I recently discovered Erin Gloria Ryan on twitter, when she tweeted hilarious and spot-on commentary during the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. Ryan was an English major at Notre Dame, but found herself working at a bank after graduation. She was, however, an avid reader and commenter of Jezebel.com and eventually managed to negotiate her way onto the staff. A little while later, she landed a full time job with the website, where she now publishes multiple articles per day. Her writing style is unique; it combines a splash of humor with intelligent and thoughtful opinions for a fun but informative read. I encourage you all to read her work and follow her on twitter as well.
Zack: Where did you attend college and what was your major?
Erin: I was an English major at the University of Notre Dame.
Zack: What news networks, blogs, newspapers, and magazines do you read or watch routinely?
Erin: I’m drawn toward things that I tend to agree with, like the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mother Jones and MSNBC, but I try to expose myself to a wide variety of opinions — Buzzfeed’s political stuff has been great this election cycle, and the Huffington Post has some good reporting, and Reddit is a great place to find pre-crowdsourced articles from corners of the internet where I may not otherwise venture. Politico and The Hill are good political news outlets. I sometimes read The Daily Caller, The National Review, and The Blaze because there are occasionally some well laid out arguments there (note that I said occasionally. TDC and TNR are useful for me because they expose me to the “other” side’s talking points, and I can’t argue against something if I don’t know what that thing is). And if you want to go SUPER lefty, there’s blogs like The New Civil Rights Movement, JoeMyGod, Think Progress, Salon, The Daily Kos, AlterNet, and Addicting Info.
I also read NYMag’s The Cut, The Onion, just about anything Alex Pareene writes, Charlie Pierce’s stuff for Esquire, Vice, anything Ariel Levy or Jill Lepore or Rachel Maddow or Melissa Harris Perry touches. Also a big fan of Jess Valenti, Amanda Marcotte, Anna Holmes, Samantha Bee, a Chicago blogger named Samantha Irby who is about the funniest human being I’ve ever met, Emily Nussbaum, Rebecca Traister, and a whole host of others. George Saunders and Kurt Vonnegut are my favorite authors.
If I watch TV, I shy away from cable news because it’s just too much, although I like the way Soledad O’Brien fearlessly grills everyone. I like to laugh if I’m passively consuming media, so I stick to comedies like Parks & Recreation or 30 Rock or The Simpsons.
The Economist, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and The Atlantic are the only magazines that I buy hard copies of anymore, and that’s only if I’m in an airport and I’m not so exhausted that the most I can process is People magazine. (Although I do have a secret guilty tabloid habit.)
I have a terrible NPR addiction.
Zack: Do you consider yourself a feminist blogger/journalist? Or perhaps more of a social satirist?
Erin: I consider myself a feminist. My job is to write for a blog. And I do make lots of satirical jokes. But ideally, if I’m able to stick around for long enough, I’d like to be considered a “humorist.”
Erin: I was a commenter and had a job at a bank that I hated. Instead of doing my work, I’d just read Jezebel all day. After some goading and a few years and many weekend shifts, they hired me to work full time.
Zack: Should women be considered a voting bloc? Aren’t “women’s issues” really societal issues?
Erin: That’s always bothered me — women have such varied interests and needs that it’s almost insulting to discuss “the women’s vote,” because there are so many different kinds of women. Republican strategist and pollster Kellyanne Conway has cited a great example of why the idea of “the female vote” doesn’t work — if you took 3 48-year-old women living on Long Island, for example, you’d have no way to conclude what TYPE of women they are. Do they have 5 year old children? Are they grandmothers? Are they single, childless, and wealthy?
I think calling issues like health care, equal pay, and reproductive rights “women’s issues” ghettoizes them and reduces them to secondary issues that don’t matter as much as things like “the economy.”
Zack: In what ways do you believe social media has enhanced yourself as a writer?
Erin: It’s definitely forced my brain to work more quickly. If you’re a blogger, you don’t have the luxury of time to think things through before opining about them, otherwise you’ll end up the 101234912th person to talk about the same thing and no one will want to read it. You also run the risk that someone could independently express the same opinion you were going to express, which means that your voice gets drowned out.
Social media has also made me hate people a little bit. When you write online, and you express opinions and you’re a woman, people take that as a license to be pretty vicious. But having a thick skin can be a good thing. It’s been good for me.
Zack: Why is humor a benefit to raising awareness of issues that you find important?
Erin: There are a billion places to go to read boring crap. It’s much more easy to process information when it’s entertaining. And if you’re a consistently entertaining conveyor of information, people will come to you for information rather than more — dry — places.
I thank Erin for working with me, and look forward to following her rising career.