Work Friends

Errin Haines


In a highly consequential election year, Errin Haines believes that bringing identity—hers and the electorate at large—to work is paramount for reporting. As the Editor-at-Large of The 19th*, her work is essentially a first draft of modern history, specifically from the POV of those whose narratives have often been left out. Because, as history, and Haines, can attest, many legacy media establishments haven’t put these perspectives at the fore.

Haines’ career as a journalist spanned across The Associated Press, The Los Angeles TimesThe Orlando Sentinel, and The Washington Post, before joining independent publication The 19th* in January 2020. From its start, The 19th* was distinct in its view, taking an intersectional approach to its reporting—acknowledging the significance of the passing of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote, but also that it failed to extend the same right to all women, especially Black women. 

Today Haines’ reporting sits at the intersection of gender, race, and politics. Her work—including as host of The 19th*’s new podcast, The Amendment—centers the stories of women and those who have been marginalized. It serves as a reminder—always, but certainly this election—that women have the power to shape our democracy. But first, their stories must be told.

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"The power of the story is more important than ever."


I am not somebody who grew up with ink in my veins. What I would say is when I was growing up, when we were eating dinner, we were not allowed to watch television unless we were watching the local news. There was a local news anchor in Atlanta who was a Black woman and who looked like me. She was somebody that I could identify with. Even before I knew that I wanted to be a journalist, I knew that that was an avenue for me because I saw somebody who looked like me do it.

I also grew up reading my hometown newspaper and seeing what the people in my community were doing. That was important to me, and it was a thing that I understood grownups did: They cared about the news and they wanted to be informed. As I got older, and it was time for me to pick a career once I got to college, I knew that I was good at writing, and I knew that I was curious. The idea that I could get paid to learn about something new every day, ask people questions, and then come back and tell people what they told me—honestly, it seemed too good to be true. I continue all these years later to be amazed that people do trust me to tell their stories and that I get to go to so many places and meet so many amazing people. To hear about their experiences, and for us all to participate in the power of story together, is something that I still love to do more than 20 years after I first started asking questions.


When I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I saw it as an extension of who I am as a person. First and foremost, being raised to be a proud African-American and a proud woman in this country lets me bring that lived experience. I bring those identities to my work, and I’m always thinking about those who are not in the room, whose voices are still not being heard, and who are still not being seen in the stories about our country and our democracy. So much of my career was focused on race in America, thinking about what it means to be a Black person in this country, good and bad. Then, when we decided that we were going to launch The 19th*, it was an opportunity for me to think much more deeply about gender and its role in our democracy.

 We're named for the 19th Amendment, but it has an asterisk in it because Black women were thrown under the bus when the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. That was when I realized that was why feminism and white women are so closely tied. Because when you don't have to think about race as the thing that holds you back in society, you think about the other thing that holds you back, which is gender. Even now, bringing my lens to this work, I think about the role of race and gender together and how that affects people's ability to participate fully as citizens and as members of their community. 


Being able to cover the Black Lives Matter movement over the past decade—which is not something that I never would have seen coming—by talking to a lot of the moms about the children they’ve lost, who those children were, who they are, and who they have become as a result of these tragedies. Being able to leave behind that body of work for people who want to know what happened during that time feels like some of the most important work that I've been able to do in my career. 

Covering the presidential candidacy and then the vice presidential nomination of Kamala Harris has also felt very historic. That was not something that I thought was going to happen in my lifetime. The same goes for covering the first Black president's election, Hillary Clinton's campaign, and having a chance to meet her and talk to her about women's political leadership. In a lot of ways, for so many of the people I write for and about, our politics and our democracy feel very existential. As a journalist, I could not imagine a better time to be doing this work, a more important time to be doing this work. I feel very honored that I get to do that and to be able to say the things I'm saying, not as side issues, but as the main issues of our time, which are race and gender. That is the unfinished business of our democracy.


My now CEO, Emily Ramshaw, who I didn't know at all before we started The 19th* together, DM’d me on Twitter [in 2019]. When she told me the idea, I became so excited. At that time, where I was personally and professionally, the risk was not to start this new thing, the risk was in staying and hoping that legacy mainstream media was going to make a different choice. It didn't happen. It hasn't happened. 

 It is not often, especially at this point in your career, that you still get to do something for the first time or that nobody else has ever done before. That's exciting. Here we are four years later getting ready to cover our second presidential election, which feels even more consequential than when we launched in 2020… Think about all the things that have happened during our short time in existence: the pandemic, the fall of Roe. The biggest story of our time is related to gender. So again and again, we are seeing why we need to talk about gender and politics, not in a way that relegates women to being a special issue. We're half the population, we're half the electorate. All issues are women's issues, and women's issues can be everybody's issue if we talk about it that way. 


The main thing that excites me is the opportunity that is present even with all the anxiety people are feeling. And the opportunity for us, as a profession, is to do work that meets the moment and serves the people that we are trying to serve for whom the stakes of this election are absolutely existential. How free, how fair, or how equal do people get to be in this democracy? If we do not have a democracy after November, all the issues that we care about do not matter. Democracy is literally on the line. 


The power of the story is more important than ever and the power of your story is what is going to make you good at this job. Once upon a time, the myth of objectivity told us that we needed to leave our identities at the door when we came to do this work: who we are, the experiences that we have, the part of the country that we come from, where we went to college, if we went to college. There are so many factors that can go into the lens that we bring to the work, the ways in which each of us is uniquely qualified to tell a certain story about this democracy, and it takes all of us to do that, to show the richness of our democracy, the richness of our country. Even for somebody who is just getting started, yes, you are here to learn but also know that you have valuable knowledge.


It is cliché, but it's true: When you look good, you feel good. With the pandemic, I think that's evolved. What does that mean to look good and feel good, or what does that mean to actually put yourself together and be out in the world? For me, especially at this point in my career, it means projecting strength and confidence. If my style does not help me feel that way, I can't authentically project that. So my clothes, especially in a professional setting, feel like armor. When I am in a more casual mood, even then, they make me feel safe. They make me feel soft. I feel protected, just in a different way.

What I want people to think when they see me is, “Okay, here comes a strong confident Black woman.” And I think there are things that people may know me for. I wear rose gold aviators. I love a good pair of Jordans. The idea that you could get away with wearing sneakers and a suit? It is my dream life.


I want to become more of myself every day, but I also want to become more of the journalist that I am meant to be. I love Black people. I love Black women. I tell stories for and about them. I'm somebody who was raised with a really strong sense of right and wrong, and I think it comes across in a lot of my work. I am somebody who believes in speaking truth to power. I see myself as a witness and as a Black woman who understands that nothing happens without us and that we have to make things better because that's just what we do. So using my platform on behalf of other Black women, on behalf of anybody who remains unseen and unheard in our democracy, that's the work that I get to do now.

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"My clothes, especially in a professional setting, feel like armor."

She’s Worth a Follow

Find Errin on Instagram.