I Have So Many Ideas, I Have No Ideas At All

Whenever I talk to students or aspiring journalists there is one question I dread. It’s also a question I can almost guarantee someone will ask. And it’s this: “Where do you get your ideas?” I usually answer first, with a performative groan. I hate this question, I say. It’s a good one of course. It’s […]

A Case of J-Shame

I’ve been working on a couple of essays over the last week, knowing I had to fill this space. But when the time came to post one of them, I couldn’t do it. The subject was too irrelevant, too glib in the shadow of yet another sick fuck shooting innocent people. It didn’t belong. This […]

The Story I Never Wrote

Last year, I abandoned a story. It happens, journalists don’t write every story they think they might. But this one I still think about. It started innocuously enough. A paper caught my eye about looting and archaeology. The premise was somewhat counterintuitive: the author argued that in places where the economic situation was particularly dire, […]

Conversation with Michael Balter: On Not Teaching

Michael:  Hi Ann! After six years of teaching in NYU’s science journalism program (SHERP), and a year before that teaching at Boston University, I have decided to take a break and hand over my beginning writing, research and reporting class to someone else. What a tough decision. I love my students–so many of whom have […]

Window Seat

At 3 a.m., a quiet settles like fog around the neighborhood, freckled by a few bursts of sound. Sometimes there’s the whistle of an incoming train. An acoustical trick might carry sea lion barks from distant buoys, the deep buzz of fishing boats, even a wave pummeling the rocks. Occasionally, a single too-loud bird call […]

What’s in a Word?

Next week, in the July issue of Scientific American, you can read a story I wrote about the fascinating archeological site of Teotihuacan. You may remember it as the Mexican site I wrote about in 2012 with an almost magical ability to draw in hippies. The story focuses on our growing understanding of the politics […]

A Lungful of Quiet

I’m writing to you from inside an artificial lung. Really. I’m sitting at a desk in a cylindrical, windowless room, 180 feet across. The floor and walls are concrete, and the ceiling, several stories above, is rimmed with an enormous black rubber gasket which sighs gently—up, then down—every time somebody opens the door. No one […]

Holiday Review: Why Blog?

On a recent episode of the literary podcast All Write Already! Susan Orlean said, “I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs.” While I agree with her arguments in favor of writing for pay and under the guidance of an editor, I’ve also come to believe that under the right circumstances (i.e. you are not blogging […]