Robyn Forest thought she'd gotten her big break when a magazine assigned her to write about a famous Japanese pop singer. Instead, Robyn ended up on Japanese television denying that she and the singer were having an affair.
Radio reporter Adam Davidson went to Iraq to report on the war. He decided that rather than living in some journalist compound in the Green Zone or in a big hotel—places insurgents were more likely to attack—he'd fly under the radar, and keep safe...by renting a house in a residential Baghdad neighborhood.
Two years ago, a Johns Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate at the time and was mostly ignored.
The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.
Host Ira Glass describes the thing that we all do at some point: Talk expertly about something we don't actually know anything about. It's so common, explains This American Life contributing editor Nancy Updike, that some friends of hers invented an imaginary magazine devoted to such blathering.
Host Ira Glass interviews Lori Gottlieb about the time she sent a letter to a writer in a magazine, a letter packed with white lies. One complication led to another and before long, the writer seemed to be lying to her.
Host Ira Glass talks to Laura Mayer, editor of the New Trier Township High School yearbook, about the renegade student who jumps into as many club photos as he can. And contributing editor Jack Hitt explains how this impulse—to be remembered as someone you're not—can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin.
Host Ira Glass talks to This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt about the time he hacked into his employer's computer and found out what he didn't want to know.
Adam Sternbergh, the co-editor and co-founder of Fametracker.com, dissects the issue of People magazine which is now on newsstands — an issue which chooses the most beautiful people in the world, allegedly through purely scientific methods, somehow ending up with a list of people who have movies coming out this summer. This story first appeared at Fametracker.com.
Davy Rothbart reads from letters, notes, scraps of paper and school papers which have been lost by their original owners. He collects and publishes things like this in his magazine, Found Magazine.
Very few Palestinians speak Hebrew, and very few Israelis speak Arabic, even though most Palestinians and Israelis live a short drive from one another. Nancy Updike has this story about Nasser Laham, a Palestinian TV journalist in Bethlehem who has a nightly show where he translates Israeli broadcasts into Arabic.
A few years back, a writer named Lee Sandlin wrote a story for the weekly paper The Chicago Reader about what makes wartime different—how a country's perceptions and logic during war are fundamentally different than during peace. It was a massive historical article, exhaustively researched.
Host Ira Glass talks with Michael Beaumier, who runs the personals section of the Chicago Reader, and who functions as a kind of guardian angel for many of the singles who advertise in his paper.
Host Ira Glass talks with Marion Tanios, a classified section editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She explains that if the news section of the newspaper gives you the public life of a city, the classified section gives you a sense of people's personal lives.
"Joyce, I don't need another Housekeeper." Producer Jonathan Goldstein talks with the man who placed this ad. Joyce is the woman who left him.
Reporter Jon Ronson tells the story of how, in the immediate wake of September 11, he became convinced that a man he'd done a story on was responsible for the Anthrax attacks in America. So he did something he'd never done before, he ratted out his source to the FBI.
Ira interviews three of the people involved in making the documentary How's Your News?, about a team of developmentally disabled people who travel across the country doing man-on-the-street interviews. He talks to two of the developmentally disabled reporters, Susan Harrington and Joe Simon, and to the film's non-disabled director, Arthur Bradford.
Bill Lychak reports on what it's like to be a factory worker in the Epiphany Plant, bringing news of miracles to Christians in a magazine called Guideposts. It's a good job, he says.
Several years ago, before most of us paid much attention to the name Osama bin Laden, Reporter Jon Ronson spent a year following around a Muslim activist named Omar Bakri, who called himself bin Laden's "man in London." At first Ronson thought Bakri was on the "them" side of "us and them." But then Ronson got to know him, and changed his mind. After September 11th, he had to change his mind again.
In 1946, a man named David Boder started to investigate the Holocaust before it was known as the Holocaust. He dragged a primitive recording device around Europe and gathered the first recorded testimonials of concentration camp survivors.
Ira reports on a week he spent on the set of the TV show M*A*S*H in 1979, supposedly to do a story about the program for National Public Radio. He was 20 years old.
Adam Davidson reads from his high school diaries.
Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR.
It's another not-so-great period in Scott's life. This time he takes a job inside his profession, as a producer for a national commercial radio program.