Reporter's Notebook

Andrea Comas / Reuters
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An ongoing collection of the best things we hear from our sources. (Earlier archive here.)

Show 13 Newer Notes

Quoted: The Great Expectations Edition

Anthony Devlin / Reuters

We expect women to be primarily responsible for child care. When men ‘help out’ they get brownie points,” Christin Munsch, a sociologist.

“A 100:1 sex ratio was too good to miss,” —Greg Hurst, an evolutionary biologist, on why he chose to study blue moon butterflies, which are overwhelmingly female.

“What I don’t think people appreciate about farming is that it’s very cerebral,”—Chris Holman, who left academia to become a farmer.

“Please do not assume that you are the sole arbiter of morality,” —an Atlantic reader and comment moderator on the morality of the U.S. drone war.

John Vizcaino / Reuters

“The classroom has to be the space where everybody comes and is uncomfortable,” Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociology professor

“We thought this would be a way to help them … try to avoid interactions with large whales,” Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist, on placing a whale-tracking buoy in a Coast Guard training range.

“It’s actually very difficult to draw lines between right and wrong in an area where we’re essentially saying two things at once: Be aggressive, take risks, make money—but don't hurt people while you're doing it,” Sam Buell, a law professor, on white-collar crime.

“Rising cost of university + falling membership in the middle class equals terrified parents who create anxious kids. Guilty,” an Atlantic reader on the stress of student success.

Policemen try to remove a pig from a street in Seoul on February 12, 2007 Lee Jae Won / Reuters

Voted off the island: “It was just surprising how the necessity of removing pigs wasn’t a widely shared viewpoint,” Scott Morrison, a biologist, on recovering endangered species on an island overrun with invasive feral pigs.

All opposed, say nay: “That is 100 percent not a thing,” Josh Connolly, a congressional staffer, on the legislation allegedly nicknamed “the Gawker Bill.”

Doctor, do you concur? “[It requires] training the algorithm so it can say, ‘This is a wound that looks like it will heal,’” Jonathan Kanevsky, a plastic surgeon, on teaching computers to evaluate burns.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Keep it legal: “If our clients were doing what the police are doing, it’d be called robbery.” James King, a public defender in Washington, D.C., on property seizures

Keep on track: “You don’t just go up to a random mountain and start digging. You go up to the ones that are most promising.” Martin Elvis, an astronomer, on the search for natural resources in space

Keep it real: “What you don’t see from Chevrolet is a lot of CGI wizbangery. We are about real things. But it has to be dramatic!” Steve Majoros, the marketing director of Chevrolet, on the company’s ads

NASA / Reuters

Out of this world: “Frankly, I feel like I’ve been transported to very deep outer space,” Dan Rather, a TV anchorman, on writing a viral Facebook post.

Out of our heads: “If we don’t panic a little bit, we’ll never get anywhere,” Chris Goldfinger, a geologist, on preparing for a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

Out of patience: “At a certain point you kind of have to pay for your own sanity, you know?” Dulce-Marie Flecha, who taught public school in New York City, on why she quit.

Jason Reed / Reuters

Unwanted advice: “Hawaii [is] a great place to come vacation before you go to prison,” Andrew Snyder, a therapist who preps white-collar criminals for prison time.

Unneeded advice: “When I first saw that, I remember saying: Stop, you will kill your own egg!Niclas Fritzén, an entomologist, on how wasps sew spiders’ nests over their eggs.

Unheeded advice: “We’re all pretty glad that Monet and Da Vinci didn’t go to a school that said, ‘You need to [paint] in this way to meet a rubric,’” Timothy Brophy, a music professor and assessment expert.


Wind, fall: “Treats and vices. Last month, I bought a yo-yo,” Adder, who lives in a utopian community, on how he spends his money.

Buying time: “I do worry that this will be an excuse for a big spend-fest,” Stephen Moore, a conservative economist, on Donald Trump’s ambitious infrastructure plans.

Over budget: “That might fly in Scandinavia, but not here,” Peter Muennig, a professor of public-health policy, on the cost of replacing lead pipes in homes across the U.S.

Jorge Adorno / Reuters

When you don’t know what you don’t know: “[It] is too easy to say, ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing. Everything is magical and I don’t understand it,’” Samuel Arbesman, who studies technology.

When what you don’t know can’t hurt you: “It’s one of the few times in medicine that it’s far more important to begin treatment and ask questions later,” Jason Persoff, a professor of medicine, on cardiac arrest.

...and when it comes back to haunt you: “What’s been going on with the presidential discourse has allowed this alligator to crawl out of the swamp. It’s been living there. We haven’t been seeing it. We haven’t been focused on it much. But now it’s back,” Caroline Fayard, who is running for U.S. senator in Louisiana, on her opponent, white supremacist David Duke.

Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Going down: “It’s becoming a Titanic situation, where everyone wants to grab a lifeboat,” Ben Howe, a conservative Republican who supports Hillary Clinton, on the Republican Party.

Non-starter: “The education system in this country has never worked for poor people and people of color. We’re not calling for the status quo,” Hiram Rivera, an author of the Black Lives Matter education platform.

Not started: “It’s crazy how much they could have done in advance and nothing was done,” Christina Frigo, a pregnant woman in Miami, on the region’s response to Zika.

Donald Trump eats a pork chop at the Iowa State Fair. Charlie Riedel / AP

Hungry for attention: “He’s like mayonnaise on a ham sandwich! Donald is the ham,” Becky Bost, who supports Donald Trump, on vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

Hungry for business: “It’s not just about the share of stomach anymore. ... It’s about share of attention,” Ben Miller, an analyst at Taco Bell, on attracting customers.

Hungry for change: “You create difficulties to sell solutions,” Paulo Sotero, a Brazilian journalist, on how bureaucracy fits into Brazil’s economy.

Hillary Clinton jumps at the chance for a test on July 29, 2016. Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters

Trying times: “You’re not going to have people jumping up and down saying, ‘Test me! Test me!’” Glenda Gray, a doctor and scientist, on the stigma of tuberculosis.

Clinical trials: “We try it on one human being. Well, that didn’t seem to kill them. Then we try it on another,” Mary Foulkes, a former FDA director, on the process of testing drugs.

Trial by fire: “When you climb inside the belly of the aircraft, it's like climbing inside of a tin can sitting out in the sun,” Paul Mozeak, who loads baggage into planes.

What’s the verdict? “Enacting these kinds of state laws shows that the world doesn’t collapse when we create additional protections against gender discrimination,” Ariane Hegewisch, who studies women’s earnings, on a Massachusetts equal-pay law.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Who can you count on? Definitely not Donald Trump. As President Obama said in a press conference about the candidates he’s run against: “I never thought they couldn’t do the job. … But that’s not the situation here.”

Hillary Clinton’s trusty pantsuit. As Megan Garber writes, it’s the kind of outfit that says, “Please stop talking about my clothes.”

The Bachelorette’s choice. As People magazine headlined it: “I Know I Can Trust Him.”

Expert advice. As political scientist Walter Stone’s mother asked him in 1992: “Can you guarantee that Ross Perot will lose? Because if you can, I’m going to vote for him.”