“We take stories and purvey them to people with money. And in the conventions of my profession, which I try to adhere to, we can’t pay people for stories. Anyone with a conscience who does this work grapples with that reality, and if they don’t, I’d worry. I lie awake at night, and I think, ‘Am I exploiting them? Am I a vulture?’ All of the terrible names anyone could call me, I’ve called myself worse.

“But if writing about people who are not yourself is illegitimate, then the only legitimate work is autobiography; and as a reader and a citizen, I don’t want to live in that world.”

-Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, on journalism and reporting on poverty, in Guernica.

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