Meet The Team
The goal of The Sunday Long Read newsletter is simple: To put the past week’s best journalism in your hands every Sunday morning—or, as a friend said, “to screw up my Sundays with far too much great stuff to read.” You can subscribe here.
Obviously, compiling these lists is a wildly subjective exercise. How do we choose what’s “best?” If we finish a long-read article and immediately want to recommend it to a friend, you’ll find it linked here. These stories brought us pleasure, made us laugh and think and, most of all, told us something we didn’t know. No “hot takes” here.
At this point you’re wondering – who are “we”? Well, these are our founders:
Van Natta Jr.
For 30 years, Don has worked as an investigative reporter, including his current position as a senior writer for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” A member of three Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he is the New York Times bestselling author of three books: First Off the Tee, Her Way and Wonder Girl. Don was also the host and co-executive producer of ESPN’s award-winning investigative docuseries “Backstory”— all four episodes aired on ESPN and ABC and can be streamed anytime on ESPN+ and Hulu.
Before joining ESPN in 2012, Don worked for 16 years at The New York Times, where he was based in Washington, London, Miami and New York. He began his career at The Miami Herald, where he was a member of the staff that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of Hurricane Andrew and its aftermath.
His longform writing for ESPN was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and was anthologized four times in The Best American Sports Writing and once in The Best American Magazine Writing. In 2016, Don was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists as a Fellow of the Society, the organization’s highest honor for exceptional service to journalism.
In 2000, he won the Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University’s College of Communication. He is also a member of the Don Bosco Prep Hall of Fame.
Don lives in Miami with his wife, the award-winning journalist Lizette Alvarez, now a contributing opinion columnist for The Washington Post, their two daughters, Isabel and Sofia, and a black rescue lab named Bango.
Jacob is a sports business reporter at Sportico, where he covers tech, media, and fan experience. He is also a producer of the This Day in Esoteric History podcast, and a lecturer in journalism at Brandeis University.
He previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, where he covered digital media as well as the NFL, launching The MMQB’s daily newsletter, The Morning Huddle.
Jacob’s writing has also appeared in Popular Science, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, and The Charlotte Observer. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he won 1st and 2nd place Sports Story of the Year prizes from the Associated Collegiate Press while also earning recognition in the categories of in-depth news reporting and multimedia journalism. He was the recipient of the school’s 2015 Thomas Wood Award for journalism. A North Carolina native, Jacob currently lives in Boston.
The SLR Production Team
Étienne Lajoie joined the Sunday Long Read team in 2017. He also works as the Ontario bureau reporter for Le Devoir.
Senior Editor, Original Content
When he is not working on original stories with the SLR, Peter Bailey-Wells is a multiplatform editor at The Boston Globe and a frequenter of farmers markets in the greater Boston area. He also enjoys running, reading, and doing jigsaw puzzles. His goal with the SLR originals program is to cultivate a space that works (and pays) well for writers and readers alike.
Senior Editor, Social Media
Megan McDonell manages The Sunday Long Read’s Twitter account. By day, she’s a copywriter for a creative agency specializing in progressive nonprofit organizations—and loves getting to write about important causes like animal welfare and HIV/AIDS research. By night, she is a dance party starter, jungle gym, and short-order cook for her two small children.
Senior Editor, Production
Joe Levin is a writer at Religion of Sports whose work has also appeared in Texas Monthly, Wildsam, and SB Nation. He lives in Austin, TX, and in a former life was the top-ranked amateur competitive eater in the Lone Star State.
Editor, Original Content
Kiley Bense is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Believer, Catapult, Longreads, and elsewhere. In 2018, she was one of the winners of the Poets & Writers Amy Award in poetry.
Senior Editor, sundaylongread.com
Anagha Srikanth is a graduate student in the Community & Trauma Counseling Program at Thomas Jefferson University. She has managed social media accounts for Rewire News Group, The Hill and Agence-France Presse and produced websites for local mutual aid organizations and freelancers.
VERONICA DICKSON LA ROTTA
Veronica Dickson La Rotta joined SLR in 2020. She is working at an anti-corruption nonprofit and getting her Masters in international development in DC. She has lived and worked in Asia, but has a soft spot for Burlington, VT and sourdough doughnuts.
Atreya Verma is a freelance journalist who enjoys exploring the intersection of sports and culture. In his free time, you can find him watching college football and playing golf. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter @atreya_verma.
And of course, this wouldn’t all be possible without the rest of our hard-working staff.
Jack Shafer, Classics
Patrick Farrell and Jodi Mailander Farrell, Photos
Jo Piazza, Podcasts
Jacqueline Nyathi, Books
Ruth Ann Harnisch
In 2021, we were blessed to join forces with Ruth Ann Harnisch – an investor, donor activist, and film and media producer who gives boldly to accelerate equality. Her media career taught her the power of activists’ money and good storytelling to drive cultural change. Ruth Ann was one of Nashville’s female broadcast news pioneers, working at the CBS-TV News affiliate, WLAC-AM and the Nashville Banner.
Now, through The Harnisch Foundation and her personal account (whence cometh the SLR sponsorship money), she invests in leaders and creative communities working for a more equal and inclusive world. She has a heart for the underpaid journalist, as her first on-camera job paid so little she qualified for (what was then known as) food stamps. When she pointed this out to the GM, he gave her a raise that put her one dollar over the threshold for public assistance.
“When I earned my living as a journalist, I was a combo platter of poor and broke. Currently I am neither. Supporting a fair and free press is a philanthropic priority, supporting good content (whether or not it’s “fair”) is a personal passion. I’m glad to help pay journalists for their work. And I like that the SLR is a new clubhouse for journalism’s cool kids,” she told our Don Van Natta Jr.
Contributor in memoriam
Lyra McKee (1990-2019) was a journalist from Northern Ireland, a Sunday Long Read contributing editor, and the author of two books (one published posthumously), Angels with Blue Faces, and Lost, Found, Remembered. Her life’s work was unraveling and documenting the aftermath of the Troubles and she was killed in April 2019 while covering republican rioting in the city of Derry. The spring she died, she published her final story, The girl who chased frogs, with The SLR.
Susan McKay told the story of Lyra’s incredible life and tragic death in The New Yorker in July 2019.
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