Jay Newton-Small has reported stories on five continents for Time magazine, where she is currently the Washington correspondent. Previously, she covered the 2004 elections for Bloomberg News. Now the author of Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, which grew out of a popular Time article about women senators’ cooperation during the infamously gridlocked 2012 U.S. Senate session, Newton-Small visited Zócalo to deliver the lecture “Are Women Changing the Way Institutions Are Run?” In the Zócalo green room, she talked about where she goes to unwind after covering a presidential election, how babies learn to swim in Australia, and the article she’s most proud to have reported.
Q: You’re the daughter of two United Nations diplomats and you’ve traveled a lot for work. If you didn’t live in the U.S., what country would you want to live in?
A: I’m a dual citizen, Australian-American, so I guess I’d live in Australia, although it’s kind of a news desert.
Q: What story are you most proud to have reported?
A: My favorite story, I was arrested for it, was in Iran about art—“Displaying Dissent.” They were producing all this art that was totally anti-regime because there was a loophole for fine art exports in the U.S. and European sanctions. The regime needed revenue so badly it turned a blind eye. I was there in 2012 and I was arrested interviewing an artist. I was held for about 5 hours. My fixer was this wonderful woman who said, “Just cry and ask to go shopping.” I did and it worked; they let me go.
Q: Where and when did you learn how to swim?
A: I was a baby. My dad threw me in the pool. I think all Australian kids learn how to swim as babies. I don’t remember it.
Q: How do you procrastinate?
A: I watch Game of Thrones [laughs].
Q: Where would we find you the day after a presidential election?
A: That’s a good question. In 2008 I went to Cartagena; in 2004 I went to Costa Rica. So probably some South or Central American beach.
Q: Who’s one person, living or dead, you’d most like to have a beer with?
A: My mother.
Q: What was the most important year of your life?
A: This year. But isn’t it always this year? My first book and for a bunch of other reasons.
Q: What’s your hidden talent?
A: I’m a dog whisperer. I can always figure out what’s wrong with my dog and other people’s dogs.
Q: What does it take to get you on a dance floor?
A: Not much at all. [Laughs] I love dancing.
Q: What’s your favorite song to get other people out on the dance floor?
A: Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.” I’ve totally been dancing in the gym to it with my headphones on.
*Photo by Jake Fabricius.