How the 19th’s Editor-at-Large Gets It Done

A black woman poses for a portrait. Her long dark hair is loose in braids, and she's wearing pearl earrings and a long pearl necklace.
Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Vanessa Cerday

Journalist Errin Haines is living a life her 23-year-old self could never have imagined. At that age, the Georgia native wrote her first article for a small Black newspaper, the Atlanta Daily World. Today, at 46, she’s the editor-at-large for the 19th News, an independent, nonprofit publication covering the politics and policies affecting women and LGBTQ+ people. For Haines, it’s about “changing the narrative around how we talk about political journalism and how we talk about half the population and half the electorate, namely women, in this country.” 

Before she landed at the 19th, Haines worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, becoming a national writer on race for the Associated Press in 2017. In 2006, the National Association of Black Journalists named her its Emerging Journalist of the Year. Throughout her career, those moments have served as reminders that she was meant to tell stories and amplify Black voices. “That was the only job I ever wanted, and that was the job I was doing before I even officially got that title,” she says. “To do that at the time felt like my best and highest use.” 

Haines’s impact in the newsroom evolves each day as she finds herself stepping into the spotlight more often. As the face of the 19th’s newsroom, she appears regularly on MSNBC. Right now, she’s also promoting the 19th’s documentary Breaking the News, a story of the outlet’s early years, at the same time as she hosts its newly released podcast, The Amendment. On it, she interviews people from marginalized communities across the country, highlighting their varied perspectives on America’s political landscape during a critical election year. Although her younger self couldn’t have envisioned such a multi-hyphenate career, the ability to “go out and ask questions” for a living “has always made me feel like I was winning,” Haines says. “Because, I mean, what a job.

Although that job keeps Haines on the road much of the time, she looks forward to the days when she is home in Philadelphia with her boyfriend and their dogs. Here’s how she gets it done.

On her morning routine:
I wake up before my alarm clock goes off, which is my favorite thing because I get to go back to sleep. It could be an hour before I’m supposed to get up or 17 minutes; I will lie back down, and when the alarm goes off, I’m going to hit the snooze button. I’m like a car that has to warm up. I have been known to hit the snooze button for an hour straight.

Then I start my workday in a horizontal position under the covers. I’m reading my newsletter in bed, and I’m scrolling social media. I get up because I need my caffeine. I’m not really a breakfast person on weekdays, so breakfast is usually a cup of coffee. I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC because I may have to be on TV that day, so I need to see what’s happening in the world.

On what keeps her grounded:
I am a meditation person. I have a very chaotic life, so taking a few minutes for me on a regular basis is a way to manage stress. It is a way to rest, a cheap luxury. I’m a huge fan of Tricia Hersey of the Nap Ministry. I like the idea that rest is radical and that, for Black women, we have to reclaim it. Rest did not always come naturally to me. It was something I used to feel guilty about, but now it’s something I take much more seriously, especially on the other side of this pandemic.

On the most stressful parts of her job:
If I could sit and just think about journalism all the time, tell stories all day, that would be ideal. But of course, that’s not real life. There are certain administrative things I’m terrible at: Follow-up stresses me out a lot; there are always so many people to get back to. I envy and also can’t stand those zero-inbox people. That’s not me. That’s never going to be me. If you were trying to reach me, I’m really sorry.

On bouncing back from professional failure:
In 2012, I was hired at the Washington Post to cover Virginia politics. I was very excited about this job. It was a big deal, and it was the first time I did not thrive in a professional role. It made me think, Wait, am I really as good at this as I think I’m? I didn’t stay much more than a year.

The thing that’s so incredible about being a Black girl raised into a Black woman is that we have been given a very strong sense of self by our mothers, grandmothers, and other women in our lives who love us and who look like us. All the things the world may tell us we cannot do or are incapable of, these women say, “No, that’s not true.” That is what fortified and sustained me in that moment. If I had not been grounded in who I was and how I was raised as a reminder of what I was capable of, I would not have recovered as well.

On being told to wait her turn:
If you’ve earned something, it doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had or how much experience the other person has. If you do the best work, you should be rewarded for that. If you earned something, you should get it. Being denied something because somebody thought I still had time really burned me. It just made me work harder to prove that person wrong.

On who helps her get it done:
Jesus, he takes the wheel every day. My therapist. My mom keeps me humble, which is hilarious. My boyfriend is supportive and encouraging, and my group chat keeps me going: Tiffany Cross, Joy-Ann Reid, Sunny Hostin, Jemele Hill, Cari Champion, Angela Rye, Alicia Garza, LaTosha Brown, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham. These are Black women I can trust with my whole self, who laugh with me and support me. We cheer each other on, we amplify each other’s work. We sharpen each other, and we can relax together. I can’t tell you how priceless it is to have that sacred sisterhood, and I know so many Black women would agree that the group chat is getting folks through.

On the advice she would give aspiring journalists:
Bet on yourself. You don’t know what will happen with these companies; you don’t know what will happen with this industry. But if it is in you to tell stories, then that’s what you should do. Count your lived experience as an asset to your storytelling, not a liability. You are uniquely qualified to tell the story you were meant to tell, so don’t let the industry beat that out of you.

How the 19th’s Editor-at-Large Gets It Done