Episode 13: Jeanne Marie Laskas

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.

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Episode 12: John Woodrow Cox

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.

Episode 11: Wright Thompson

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.

Episode 5: Stephen Rodrick

This week, I talk with Stephen Rodrick, a writer for The New York Times Magazine. He wrote the cover story for the Jan. 10 issue of the Times magazine, titled “The Misfits.” Online, thanks to search engine optimization, the story was called “Here is what happens when you cast Lindsay Lohan in your movie.” Rodrick was embedded with the cast and crew of the movie, The Canyons, which was directed by Paul Schrader, and starred Lindsay Lohan.

Rodrick has also written the memoir “The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey into his Father’s Life.”

Check out Rodrick’s Longform page to read more of his work, including stories he’s written since joining the podcast.

Episode 3: Pamela Colloff

Episode 3 features Pamela Colloff of Texas Monthly. Late last year, her two-part series, “The Innocent Man” was published. The story focuses on Michael Morton, who in 1987, was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. In the podcast, Colloff talks about how she found out about the story, how she reported it and what it was like to shine light on a case like this.

Colloff has written a lot of stories for Texas Monthly since joining the podcast. Most recently, and movingly, though, was a piece titled “The Reckoning,” which was about one of the victims of what is regarded as the first mass school shooting in the country’s history.