I've been a journalist since 2009, writing feature stories and covering major events like the Sandusky trial and Bill Cosby trial. I currently work for The Hustle, a business/tech newsletter with 1.7 million subscribers. My recent stories have included a piece about a con artist who sold investors a fake country and the reason why the Univ. of Florida still gets a cut of Gatorade's profits. I have freelanced at places like the New York Times, WIRED, and Texas Monthly, and I'm also working on a history/sports book for the publisher Dutton about the resurgence of Kansas City because of the impact of Patrick Mahomes.

You can subscribe to The Hustle newsletter here and get daily business/tech coverage and my longform feature stories every Sunday (like the family business behind James Bond movies and the economics of Broadway). You can also check out my website and my Twitter.

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/rq73jrnwrbb81.jpg

Comments: 136 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

najing_ftw104 karma

How much of your material do you get from Reddit?

thehustledaily134 karma

A decent amount, actually. It depends on the topic, but once I have a good story idea I'll often look for reddit threads related to that topic for background research. Sometimes, I'll reach out to people on Reddit who have interesting posts and see if they'd like to be interviewed. Lately, for instance, I've been talking to restaurant workers who have left their jobs and have found a few people for that story via Reddit. --Mark

FrankFrankson61 karma

Which current business enterprises, similar to Glamour Shots, do you see going extinct or at the very least, having to undergo a massive shift?

Which stories do you see yourself writing 10 years from now?

thehustledaily70 karma

I love this question. For starters, I'm sad that there aren't as many brick and mortar businesses out there, a la Glamour Shots, that rose up to meet the demands of a fad/trend and then wear off. It seems like with the biggest fads of the 2010s -- fidget spinners, avocado toast come to mind -- there isn't like one store or one business that encompasses the entirety of that fad. It's spread out, so there's not one major enterprise that we'll see falling off a cliff in a few years.

However, I think the biggest shifts or extinctions we'll be seeing are with companies that provide services in the gig economy/ecommerce world. There's already been consolidation in food delivery, and Uber and Lyft have yet to find steady footing. For years, people have been talking about ghost kitchens rising up and there will be lots of winners and losers there. So I think the new companies/industries that undergo shifts and may no longer exist are those in this newer wave of ecommerce. And the weakest links will just get subsumed by a few bigger powers. Which is kind of depressing!

And not nearly as fun as thinking back on Glamour Shots... --Mark

Holgrin31 karma

What's the most contrarian piece you've written wrt business interests?

Are there barriers or pressures that you've experienced, witnessed, or otherwise felt in the industry regarding what kinds of "negative" information makes it to print?

Are people trying to write more pieces from the perspective of labor interests, as opposed to generally framing the economy with traditional metrics like GDP and market gains, and what are the hurdles to more of this, if any?

thehustledaily33 karma

Recently, I'd say this is my most contrarian piece https://thehustle.co/to-reinvent-work-we-have-to-destroy-the-clock/ -- on the need for us to reconsider the traditional relationship of time and work.

I've never worked anywhere that I've been pressured to not write certain stories. Journalists usually have free reign to report and write and are unencumbered from corporate interests (with some exceptions; every so often you hear of a story being spiked by a major organization but then it usually surfaces at another). I really don't think labor interests influence most business reporting, and that journalists oftentimes intentionally try to steer away from labor interests or at least take anything gleaned from them with a grain of salt.

NeoWereys22 karma

Hey, I'm an ecological economist and I really am interested in story telling. Yet, when I imagine anything close to my field, it feels really boring to write about for the general public in my eyes. Any tips?

thehustledaily52 karma

The key for any great story, no matter the topic, is good characters. I'd recommend trying to find somebody really interesting or eccentric or who is studying something really cutting edge in your field. You can use that person to drive the narrative of your story -- and then bam you can have an entertaining read. --Mark

NotVerySmarts20 karma

Any truth to the rumor that Gatorade took off at the University of Florida because Florida State failed after no one wanted to drink Seminole Fluid?

thehustledaily30 karma

From the reporting I did, I saw the Florida State drink was called Seminole Fire Water. And it definitely existed before Gatorade and was being ingested by FSU football players and written about in local newspapers. But I couldn't find any record of the makers of Seminole Fire Water or FSU trying to sell the drink. Robert Cade and the other Gatorade inventors were not the first to make a sports drink; they were just the first to really sell it.

NorCalAthlete14 karma

Have you read the oddball business + economy story about how the vast majority of market gains have been made during after hours trading?


Would love to see a piece on that. Seems like some major fuckery going on.

thehustledaily22 karma

I haven't seen that piece you linked to, but I've heard a little about most gains being made after hours. It's fascinating, and I don't think there's been a really clear piece written about that.

Thanks for sharing. I may try diving into that. --Mark

Best-Doubt-337611 karma

Do you ever use a library to do research anymore? Also, what the weirdest person you've met/place you've traveled while writing a story?

thehustledaily30 karma

I do use libraries. For certain stories, I've gone to the Library of Congress or the New York Public Library and accessed their archives and special collections. This is where famous people who've been forgotten by history left all their documents and other cool info. So sometimes I read through that to include in stories that I've done. Major universities throughout the country also have the papers and documents of famous figures, so that can sometimes be helpful, too.

There are lots of weird people I've met through reporting. Sometimes I talk to them and then don't do anything with their story because it just won't work. Once when I was a local journalist in Philly I wrote a story about this woman who had like 100 animals/pets at her house. I can't even remember why I was assigned that story or pitched it, but it was a nightmare. I like animals, but the second I walk in the door like two dogs start attacking me and it just went further downhill from there. I did a write a story about that one though!

For weirdest place, I'll say Balmorhea, Texas. (You should totally go if you live at all close!). It's this very, very small town that doesn't even have a Main street or anything, but it has this beautiful natural spring pool where fish swim in it with people. Then, just on the outskirts of town is this amazing 100-year old chapel that is so beautiful it looks like the art work of a minimalist artist. (here's a story about that pool -- https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/balmorhea-state-park-pool-history)

cbarkleyOG8 karma

How do you find the inspiration behind most of your story ideas? If you had to make a pie chart with the top 5 sources where you find story inspiration, what would they be and what would the % breakdown be? Reddit, other news sites, specific blogs, library, newspaper, podcasts, YouTube, etc.

thehustledaily18 karma

I'll say this

  1. Getting an idea based on reading other media -- newspapers, websites etc. -- 50%

  2. Social media (i.e. seeing people talking about something on Twitter, Reddit, FB) -- 25%

  3. Discussing with my co-workers at the Hustle/other journalists I speak to -- 10%

  4. Having some weird memory from long ago and somehow translating that into a story idea -- 10%

  5. Having conversations with friends and random ideas pop up -- 5%

batstrike7 karma

Can you talk some about your perceptions of journalism and news have changed over your decade plus in the business? Has your career path changed at all based on these shifts?

thehustledaily24 karma

Concerning the various ways people get news and the ways news outlets make money, it has changed a ton. Newsletters were considered nonexistent a decade ago, podcasts were only listened to by hardcore obsessives, and everyone thought ad-driven Huffington Post-style websites were the future.

I think the biggest change since then -- in a positive way -- is people have realized the true sign of success for any journalism enterprise is quality and building an audience. The quick-hit, clickbait stories that drive insane page views can't be monetized in a meaningful way. Success comes from providing content that gives you a sticky, stable audience. There are many people and publicatoins doing this, both for profit and nonprofit. The downside is it's still hard to make money, especially for large organizations that want to do investigative reporting.

My career path has changed a lot and followed a very winding path -- local newspapers, startup local news website, and now a national business/tech newsletter. But I think the norm is to have a winding career path now, and I've tried to just learn as much as I can and be versatile to keep going in this industry.

TheGreatSwissEmperor7 karma

Hi! I am a journalist myself but never tried freelancing.

How do you go on about it; do you sell the finished story to an outlet, do you approach them first with an idea or how do you do it?

thehustledaily29 karma

Hey! Yeah freelancing can be difficult and confusing. But 99% of the time I go to an outlet with an idea for a story but not the full finished story. Before I pitch the story idea, I usually do enough reporting -- including research and interviewing 1 or 2 sources -- to be confident I can actually complete the story.

For the pitch, I send an email that includes a really good subject line that reads like the headline of a story. Then I give a quick introduction and a one-sentence or so synopsis of the story idea. Then I'll usually write about two paragraphs describing what my story idea is about and the reporting I've done so far. For more in-depth stories, sometimes I'll go a bit longer than 2 paragraphs, but it's best to be short and sweet.

And even though it's intimidating, I've cold emailed editors at publications all the time. It really doesn't matter if you don't have an existing relationship -- most editors are looking for good stories, regardless of whether they've heard of the author. --Mark

GoodCuntMcGee6 karma

Is it lucrative to do what you do?

thehustledaily16 karma

Not really, outside of a few superstars at places like ESPN, CNN, etc.

I make a good salary at my job with The Hustle but it doesn't compare to what experienced engineers or attorneys or bankers make. And I'm fortunate. Many reporters across the country don't even make $50k in a year. People who are successful in media but not superstars, working at either national or local publications, often leave the industry in the middle of their career because there's no clear path for advancement to a senior position or to a great salary. --Mark

Ichgebibble5 karma

I heard that blockbuster was going to try to make a comeback. Have you heard anything about this?

thehustledaily7 karma

I saw something about a Blockbuster DAO. But they're only trying to buy the Blockbuster name and make a streaming service, I believe. Sorry, don't know much else.

I totally want the brick and mortar stores back!

deebo9115 karma

Are you aware of naked short selling and if so, any interest in doing a piece on it?

thehustledaily8 karma

I'm aware, but not very aware. Do you know lots about it? I think it could certainly make for an interesting piece

zootnotdingo5 karma

I have always wondered if the reason why Jerry Sandusky was able to continue doing what he did for so long was in part due to the importance placed on Penn State football by the school. Based on your experience covering Sandusky and Penn State, would you say that a situation like this could happen at any school where a sports team is valued so highly?

thehustledaily10 karma

I think it could happen at just about any university with a major sports team. Since Sandusky, we've obviously had the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State and with Team USA Gymnastics, plus the sexual abuse scandal involving the (now deceased) athletic doctor at the University of Michigan.

I think what happened at Penn State was partially because of the reverence of the football program but also just from general neglect. In the athletic department, everybody thought they could just keep passing the buck or handle discipline internally, the way they had for other less serious crises. Hopefully all the media attention and new laws/guidelines will change this atmosphere at universities across the country. -Mark

BrightGold37855 karma

What was the most interesting/most memorable interview you've done so far?

thehustledaily9 karma

In terms of well-known subjects, the most interesting interview I've done, at least recently, was with Jason Kilar. He was the CEO of Hulu and more recently was head of WarnerMedia at AT&T. I spoke with him about a year ago, not long before AT&T ditched WarnerMedia and Kilar lost his job. He had really smart things to say about the future of streaming and was very charismatic.

But the best interviews are usually with people who aren't well known and are just doing something interesting, whether its research or their job, etc. And for that I'll say Glamour Shots owner Leonora Campbell. She owns the Glamour Shots store in El Paso, which is now one of like 3 left. And she was this single immigrant mother who pivoted her business in a way nobody else recommended and now still has a thriving business when it is extinct everywhere else. She was just a fun person with great insights on life, work, and business.

Royaltoolbox4 karma

What monopoly made the game monopoly popular? I’ve never heard of this

thehustledaily20 karma

Hasbro. It consolidated the board game industry. And instead of focusing on new board games, it just trotted out new versions of Monopoly every year because they knew it would sell.

Monopoly is obviously a very popular board game, but Hasbro made it even bigger by buying out everything else and prioritizing new versions of Monopoly over newer games. Here's my full story where I talked to people who used to work at Hasbro https://thehustle.co/how-a-real-life-monopoly-made-monopoly-the-worlds-biggest-board-game/

enigmahack1 karma

Without criticizing mainstream media directly, I'm curious on your opinion on how much of MSM is legitimate journalism and how much of it is simply pushing some narrative?

thehustledaily8 karma

I really think the vast majority of 'MSM' journalism is legitimate. There are certainly exceptions, but most reporters are just trying to get the story right and get something done on deadline. I think the nature of media -- having to publish news in bits and pieces as it happens -- can lead to shifts in how stories are reported and understood and can be conflated with the media going from one narrative to the next.

But most journalists do their absolute best to vet stories and not fall for some narrative pitched by political or business interests. I think the key is to have more transparency and really let readers/listeners/viewers understand what the job is and what journalists are doing. Publications are better at this than say 10 years ago, but need to get better.