By Brooklyn Wayland
Growing up, Erin Griffith always knew she wanted to be a writer, whether it be essays or novels. Realizing as she entered the world that she didn’t have quite the interesting stories she once thought she had to tell, she pragmatically decided to major in journalism in college rather than English lit.
Leaving the University of Ohio with a magazine journalism degree and no job, Griffith set off to New York in hopes of landing one of her dream jobs.
After months of applying, she finally got an offer with MergerMarket. She had no idea what the publication did or what she would be covering. Nevertheless, she was a cheap, new journalist who needed a job.
It was at MergerMarket that she learned the basics of finance journalism. She did a lot of research, read Fortune and Forbes and learned more from her peers on what the field entailed.
“In my early days, I relied on sources a lot to explain things to me,” Griffith said. “That’s what is fun about journalism: You get to ask people to explain things to you and learn in the process.”
Admittingly, she recalls that as a young journalist, she was a little more shy about this than she is now. She refers to being a journalist as her “superpower” when it comes to just being able to go up to people you never could before and just ask them for their stories.
After a few scoops that led her to a couple new magazines, she ended up at The New York Times. Griffith attributes where she is as a journalist now to the mentors and editors she has had throughout her career that have taught her so well. It was an editor at The New York Times who encouraged her to get the ball rolling on “Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?”
When the call for pitches went out for business features, Griffith knew what she wanted to pitch. She had noticed this idea of hustle culture in the world of tech and business – her current beat at The New York Times – which she found silly and rubbed her the wrong way. She decided to explore further.
“I had been seeing this thing and seeing these types of messages, and I think they’re absurd,” Griffith said. “Maybe that’s because I am cynical which is typical among journalists.”
One example of this messaging Griffith used in her New York Times piece was a tweet from Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, “There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” This along with countless other examples have created a culture obsessed with the hustle and grind.
Cynically, Griffith stumbled over any one singular piece of advice she could give young, aspiring journalists. She recalls that any piece of advice she received when still in school was never taken into consideration.
“It was always well intentioned, but I never felt it applied to me,” said Griffith. “I don’t want to be that out of touch person trying to give advice when the job landscape has changed so much.”
She then conceded to say the most helpful piece of advice she has gotten and would pass on is to learn: learn from peers, learn from editors, learn from sources.
“Ugh!” said Griffith. “That’s terrible advice, but I guess it’s true.”