“In grand Slate tradition, tell us a little bit about yourself.”
That’s the invitation that concludes every email announcement of a Slate hire.
And that’s the invitation that we’re extending to Future Tense blogger and staff writer Lily Hay Newman, who muses on blogging, her predestined byline, and the downsides of being New York office’s snack guru.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? And where did you work before you came to Slate?
I grew up in New York City and moved back after college, so I’ve been here for most of my life. Before Slate I was a weekend editor at Gizmodo and a freelancer. As a result, I was also a professional pajama-wearer.
What’s your favorite Slate piece and why?
Out of the entire canon it’s pretty much impossible to choose, but my favorite recent Slate piece is definitely “Why Isn’t Delonte West in the NBA?” by David Haglund. People throw the word “nuanced” around a lot on the Internet, but that story really was. It’s hard for me to emphasize enough just how much I do not care about sports, but that piece was a story about mental illness, a story about the U.S. right now, and a story about the NBA that I was able to feel deeply invested in. Also David was clearly a frickin’ champ when it came to reporting it out. Maybe he should be in the NBA.
What’s on your bookshelf right now (or what are you most likely to mention)? Are you a book snob?
There’s a mix of nonfiction, classic, and modern fiction on my bookshelf. Oh, and a Little House on the Prairie cookbook, a macaroni and cheese cookbook, and an illustrated book about types of pigs. I’m not sure if I’m a book snob or not. One time in college I told a friend that I thought it was déclassé to read books that were on the New York Times best-seller list. I’ve always regretted saying that, because I don’t want to be the type of person who gives a crap about what people are reading and enjoying. Who made me king of the world? But I just think The Secret Life of Bees is a lousy book. I’m sorry, I just do.
You always have your headphones on in the New York office. What do you listen to while you write?
Often I am just using them as earplugs and not actually listening to music, because the other business and tech writers have interesting conversations about their pieces that I know I don’t have time to join. Blogging takes focus, people! If I didn’t wear the earbuds I would just yak all day. I listen to a lot of classical and roots music, and I also end up listening to “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim pretty much every day. The heart wants what it wants.
Favorite people you follow on Twitter and why?
I really appreciate the Twitter stylings of New York Times reporter Mike Isaac. I am also amused when AP Breaking News ends up having to do a million corrections in one day, though so far it’s never been bad enough that I actually judged them. Managing that Twitter must be inordinately stressful.
Favorite drink of all time?
Scotch neat is my favorite drink, but don’t start trying to talk to me about the whisky regions of Scotland because I don’t really know anything. You need to spend money on good scotch or have a parent who drinks it to learn that stuff. I like peaty notes, OK? That’s all I got. I also really like seltzer.
Favorite karaoke song?
“Some Nights” by Fun. Is it a great song? No. Do I kill it every time? Yes.
Favorite office snack?
The snack lifestyle is all about grazing so it’s hard to choose, but I would probably say blue corn chips.