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2.5 Minutes With Ann Friedman

If you pay any attention at all to current media, it’s hard to miss Ann Friedman’s work. She’s a freelance journalist with a ubiquitous online presence. We’ve recently been obsessing over her New York Magazine piece on Barbie sex, her interview with Miranda July for COS, and this pie chart about white feminist men that we forwarded on ad naseaum. Oh, and we can’t wait to sit down with a glass of boxed wine and enjoy her upcoming essay on drinking alone, appearing in the Spring/Summer print issue of The Gentlewoman.

Ann Friedman is a journalist of many hats. She’s a pie-chart crafter for The Hairpin, a curator of women’s work in journalism for her tumblr Lady Journos!, a columnist for New York Magazine’s “The Cut” and an all-around freelance hustler for The New YorkerELLELos Angeles MagazineNew Republicetc. etc. She pumps out a weekly newsletter to her friends, fans and fellow writers, where she passes along industry wisdom á la recommended readings, tip-offs to events and “GIFspirations” (think a Conan O’Brien slow-mo’ hair flip).

Before all of this, she was a journalism student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, an executive editor at GOOD and a founder of Tomorrow, a crowd-funded, collaborative, one-shot magazine that celebrated those “who are tearing the old world down and starting it anew.”

We spent 30 minutes with her so you could spend 2.5. While we didn’t ask her how many hats she owns (because that’s cliché and personal), we did ask her to describe her bedstand. Get ready for some serious Annsplaining.

ON BEING A JOURNALIST OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK CITY

Ann writes for New York Magazine’s “The Cut,” yet she lives in Los Angeles. In September, she gave some context with her “Why I’m Glad I Quit New York at Age 24” column. In it, she says it’s ok not to do journalism in NY, even though the entire journalism industry is seemingly stationed there, and she relates to other writers who “broke up” with the city, like Joan Didion.

Bottom line: Just because your industry is there doesn’t mean you have to struggle to make it your thing. If you are a sociable person, you can be in that world professionally and not physically.

MORE ON GEOGRAPHY STUFF

Defining myself as a Midwesterner (Ann grew up in Iowa) in the journalism world means I have an outsider status, like, “I’m from a place none of you have ever been. Cool.” I’m not defining this as all Midwesterners, but my parents were conservative. My dad didn’t read. Everything I liked, I went out and found it. There’s a feeling like I had to earn my intellectual and cultural background.

 ON THE BEDSTAND QUESTION

1. iPad

2. Lorrie Moore’s collection of short stories, “Birds of America.”

3. Her journal. At various points in time it is a Moleskine, but not right now.

4. “The Emperor’s Children

Ann calls journaling “doing creative work for herself.”

ON WHY WE NEED MORE JENNIFER GONNERMANS

Jennifer Gonnerman is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and contributing writer at Mother Jones. She writes about juvenile prisons, immigration, poverty and suicide.

Her beat is the “bummer beat.” She spends time with people and humanizes them. Tragic policy is a thorny issue. But we have to figure out why we’re so afraid to report on these issues

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF READING PHYSICAL BOOKS

I read books not on the Internet, because I’m a margin-writerSusan Sontag’s journals let my brain settle into another rhythm. It’s important to be able to make space where you are not being responsive to things – basically stepping away from the computer. I get depressed sometimes when I compare myself to other journalists. There’s value in comparing yourself to others, but ultimately you have to realize you have a different voice.



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  1. Tina Casagrand

    This is a so much more fun than a straight Q&A. Thanks, Paige! I got to introduce the idea of Ann Friedman to a classed called “women in media leadership” at OU. The kids loved her. Wish this article had been out at the time because it also ties well with my assertion to them that you can do what you want from anywhere (paired with perusing http://www.worstroom.com). Anyway, this is a riveting little article. Keep ‘em coming!


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