Jackie Valley is a reporter at the Las Vegas Sun. In 2013, she published a seven-part series called “Grace Through Grief.” The series followed Arturo Martinez and his two young sons as they dealt with the brutal murder of their wife and daughter, their mother and sister. The murders happened in April 2012, and Valley covered it as breaking news on her cops beat. She got to know Martinez through her reporting, and he eventually allowed her remarkable access as he recovered from the murders, both physically and emotionally.
This was Valley’s first foray into a large project. She studied journalism at Kent State University, and completed a Dow Jones copy editing internship at the Virginian Pilot in 2009. She joined the Las Vegas Sun one year later.
Mike Sager is a bestselling author and award-winning reporter who has been called the beat poet of American journalism. He currently works as a writer at large for Esquire Magazine, and is also the editor and publisher of The Sager Group, a consortium of multimedia artists and writers.
Sager recently co-edited the book, “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.” He’s also released a collection of his own magazine stories called “The Someone You’re Not,” as well as a novel titled “High Tolerance.”
Sager began his journalism career in the Washington Post newsroom, working for Bob Woodward. He went on to write for dozens of high profile magazines, including GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Spy and Interview, among many others. In 2010, he won a National Magazine Award for profile writing for his story on former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich.
Flinder Boyd is a former professional basketball player who now writes longform journalism. For 10 years, he played as a point guard in the lower and upper levels of many professional European basketball leagues.
Now he’s writing, often about basketball. His story “20 Minutes at Rucker Park” profiles a young man’s cross-country journey on a Greyhound bus to New York City’s streetball Mecca.
That story was published on SB Nation Longform. It was subsequently a Longform selection and named by Longreads a Top 5 Longread of the Week. It was also a Nieman Storyboard recommended reading selection and earned Boyd Longread’s Favorite New Writer Discovery in 2013. Finally, Sports on Earth called the story a Top 20 sports story in 2013. To top things off, the story was anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2014.
He’s written two other stories for SB Nation Longform; a profile of NBA player Chris Copeland and a first-hand account of the corruption and chaos of playing professional basketball in Slovakia.
Since joining the podcast, Boyd has started writing for many other outlets, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Fox Sports, where he wrote about Rafael Palmeiro in April 2016.
Boyd has also written for The Classical, Sports On Earth and BBC online among others. You can follow him on Twitter @FlinderBoyd.
Susan Dominus is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. She’s written about everything from higher education to organizational psychology. She also writes celebrity profiles. The most recent focused on Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter Fame. The other was about Stephen King and family of writers.
The Radcliffe piece — “Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick is to Make Harry Potter Disappear” — followed the Harry Potter star as he promoted the independent film “Kill Your Darlings.” The story shows just how much life as Harry Potter has affected the young actor.
“Stephen King’s Family Business” centered around a family get-together in Maine, where the King family of writers got together to discussion the early days of Stephen’s career and the new generation of writers he raised.
Jeanne Marie Laskas is a correspondent for GQ and the director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of seven books, including “Hidden America,” as well as the award-winning trilogy of memoirs: “Fifty Acres and Poodle,” “The Exact Same Moon,” and “Growing Girls.”
Since joining the podcast, Laskas turned her story about concussions in the NFL, “Game Brain,” into the book “Concussion,” which has since been turned into a feature film starring Will Smith.
On this episode of the podcast, we talk with Laskas about her profile of Vice President Joe Biden, “Game Brain,” and her most recent GQ story, “Oops, You Just Hired The Wrong Hitman.”
Formerly a contributing editor at Esquire, and a weekly columnist (“Significant Others”) at The Washington Post Magazine, she has been writing for national magazines for twenty years, with work appearing in The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Allure, Ladies Home Journal, and many others.
Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Magazine Writing and Best American Sports Writing.
When John Woodrow Cox talked with Matt Tullis on the podcast, he was working at the Tampa Bay Times and writing short narratives. Since then, Cox joined the Washington Post, where he is an enterprise reporter who has written about a flawed sexual assault investigation in the Marines and about a 10-year-old who has HIV.
At the Times, Cox was a general assignment reporter in Pinellas County. He covered breaking news and led long-term investigations into frivolous government spending, military contract fraud and Florida’s prescription pill epidemic. He also wrote feature stories, including the “Dispatches from Next Door” series for the Floridian magazine. These stories are very short — just 500 words long — but painstakingly reported. They tell a full story in a very short amount of space.
We talked with him about two such stories, one about a woman who is only able to find peace on the ocean. The other is about a senior citizen always on the look for that special young woman who will save him from loneliness. We also talked about writing cops and crime stories and how it can help form a narrative sense.
Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Thompson is widely regarded as one of the top literary sports journalists in the country. His work has been featured in seven editions of “Best American Sports Writing.” This year, his story “Urban Meyer will be home for dinner,” was included in the anthology.
2013 was an epic year for Thompson, who reported and wrote several memorable stories, including a profile of Michael Jordan as he turned 50 years old, a story about Italy’s racist soccer thugs, a story about a paralyzed fly rod maker in Montana and a profile of legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable in the wake of the International Olympic Committee cutting that sport.
Since joining the podcast in October 2013, Thompson has written an incredibly in-depth piece on Tiger Woods as well as a piece on New Orleans on the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That piece took up the entire feature well in one issue of ESPN: The Magazine.
Thompson also took part in the Gangrey podcast episode that focused on the work of Michael Brick, and the book “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name.”
In this podcast, we talk about the Gable story, which Thompson says he wouldn’t change a thing about, and the Jordan story. Both are intimate profiles of people you wouldn’t think would ever open up to anyone, let alone a reporter.