August, 2020

Three Questions with...
2020 Fellow Josie Duffy Rice

You are president of the Appeal, a news publication that publishes original journalism about the criminal justice system, for which you also host the Justice in America podcast. Are there stories that lend themselves better to one form or the other?

Our podcast isn’t about stories as much as it's about individual topics—things like, the death penalty, bail, etc. So while it will include stories to highlight the issues at hand, often it’s more like an explainer than many criminal justice podcasts, which tend to be very narrative/story based. But I think good storytelling lends itself to both reading and audio, if it’s done correctly. One thing that can be difficult is that sometimes at the Appeal, we are relying on paper records or data to undergird our story, rather than having a plethora of direct voices doing the heavy lifting. That can be for many reasons—the prosecutor doesn’t want to talk to us, the case in question is old, etc. So certainly those stories are better for the page. But if I could, I’d love to do a video/podcast version of many of the stories we tell—very often that’s resource prohibitive, though!

When it comes to writing about sensitive topics, such as an individual’s involvement with the justice system, what steps do you take to help them or their families feel comfortable talking to you? What are those conversations like?

This can be very difficult, because families don’t just worry about the press, they worry about retaliation from the system. And they worry about being seen or their loved ones being seen as one-dimensional, just as the thing they are accused of doing and not as a whole person. So when I write those stories I spend time just trying to get to know the person and their loved ones. Who are they, separate from this incident? What do they like to do? What matters to them? What are their dreams and aspirations? And I hope over time that lends itself to trust and honesty. It requires more effort, but it also makes for a better story and stronger relationships, which is more important.

You are very active on Twitter. How do you think about using the platform to promote your work and to affect change?

Oh boy! I’m not sure Twitter is the best use of my time, so I try to limit the time I spend on the platform. But I also think that, at its best, Twitter does engender the ability for ideas to get presented, discussed, and parsed in real time. And it allows me to reach a lot of people with takes that may be out of the Overton Window, but follow the same path we’re currently on in criminal justice reform. The criminal justice community on Twitter is also incredible—it provides access to so many people who are directly affected and previously incarcerated, for one, but it also allows academics and advocates to talk about issues in real time. It makes the criminal justice system less opaque, which I think is always a good thing. It’s really democratized a lot of the access. But it can also be terrible, of course. Everything in moderation, especially Twitter.

Hot Off The Press

OK Boomer, Let's Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind

Baby Boomers are the most prosperous generation in American history, but their kids are screwed. This eye-opening book breaks down the massive problems facing Millennials.

Publication date: August 11.

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Jill Filipovic, Class of 2019

Learn More

What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World

A fascinating and provocative new way of looking at the things we use and the spaces we inhabit, and a call to imagine a better-designed world for us all.

Publication date: August 18.

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Sara Hendren, Class of 2018

Learn More

Two Cents

Mo Scarpelli, Didi Kuo, and others on listening to music while they work.

1: Electronic music of all variations, but I mix it up throughout the day with different tempos so as to change my headspace. — Mo Scarpelli, Class of 2018

2: When writing, I listen to classical music or showtunes. I'm very excited that the New Yorker just published an interview with Patti LuPone. — Didi Kuo, Class of 2018

3: These days, when I'm organizing research, I like to listen to folksy style music to replicate being in a coffee house. When I'm actually writing or doing close reading, I listen to classical or jazz. If I listen to lyrics while I write, then the songs end up in my writing. — Marcia Chatelain, Class of 2017

4: Music is an ABSOLUTE MUST when I'm writing. When it's administrative or light editing, it's usually hip hop or 90s R&B. But when it's substantive new writing, soul is the go-to—almost always from the 70s and early 80s. — Ted Johnson, Class of 2017

5: Never. I don't know how people do that! — Suzy Hansen, Class of 2020

Two Cents

Nikole Hannah-Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Lionsgate and the New York Times announced plans to adapt "The 1619 Project" (created by Hannah-Jones) into film, TV programming, and more. Hannah-Jones was also named a Fellow of the Society by the Society of Professional Journalism.

Julian Zelizer’s new book Burning Down the House was reviewed in the New York Times.

Clint Smith will join the Atlantic as a staff writer.

Chase Purdy was interviewed in Civil Eats about his new book Billion Dollar Burger.

David Rohde was interviewed on Lawfare's podcast about his book In Deep.

Mara Hvistendahl spoke on an episode of NPR's Planet Money about her book The Scientist and the Spy.

Marcia Chatelain was interviewed on the 99% Invisible podcast, Heritage Radio Network's Eat Your Words, and in Jezebel about her book Franchise.

Josie Duffy Rice was interviewed on NPR's Code Switch about how qualified immunity shapes the criminal justice system.

Clint Smith and Vann R. Newkirk II were interviewed on Slate's Slow Burn podcast about New Orleans's history.

Go To This

The top 3 New America online events we recommend you check out. Now.



Jill Filipovic, OK Boomer, Let's Talk

Jill Filipovic, Class of 2019, will discuss her new book, OK Boomer, Let's Talk, with Josie Duffy Rice, Class of 2020. Learn More


Sara Hendren, What Can a Body Do?

Join the Fellows Program in welcoming Sara Hendren, Class of 2018, for a a conversation about her new book, What Can a Body Do? Learn More


LSX Summit

Join the Education Policy Program for the first-ever LSX Summit showcasing early learning projects and innovations from LSX fellows across four sectors. Learn More

Reading this month

Read The Inheritance because it's a thought-provoking play tackling what it means to be gay in the modern, post-1980s era.

— Chase Purdy, Class of 2019

Learn More

A poignant exploration on how we think of both family and citizenship, and how precarious each of those things can be.

— Clint Smith, Class of 2020

Learn More

A brilliant history of Black radicalism and the way that it has been written out of the history of progressive politics in America.

— Molly Crabapple, Class of 2020

Learn More

footer logo


We are storytellers who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

The three who put this together

Sarah Baline + Sophie Nunnally + Awista Ayub

Join the Conversation

Subscribe to this newsletter

Thoughts or questions?

Privacy Policy|Email designed by Iced Coffee Please

You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive newsletters from New America. Click to update your subscription preferences or unsubscribe from all New America newsletters.