Please welcome Megan to BLND!
Hi! I’m Megan Hernbroth, and I am a senior reporter at Business Insider covering startups and venture capital.
How did you get into journalism? Was this always where you saw yourself?
I studied journalism in college and always wanted to make it into the industry, but I had student loans to pay off and rent was due, so I ended up taking an internship in public relations right out of school. I spent the next 4 years switching between agency and in-house communications jobs. It was an incredible learning experience, and I largely credit those years with some of the biggest professional growth spurts I’ve had!
I had an early-career crisis and decided I wanted to get back to writing, so I DM’ed an editor on Twitter to ask for what I should do to break back into journalism. I didn’t have any clips to speak of, so I wanted to know if I should freelance, start a blog or substack, or just get really noisy on Twitter. It just happened that this editor was hiring for a startups role at BI, which became as smooth a transition as I could have imagined.
From your experience, what makes a great story?
At the end of the day, people want to read about other people. There will also be hard news, new products, or fresh funding, but if the founder or investors aren’t interesting, the story is much harder to write. I love founders that are willing to stick their necks out a bit and make big, bold predictions or statements. Everyone has opinions — it’s a natural part of being human! That is one of the biggest elements to a story that I find is missing more often than not, mainly because founders and execs feel like they have to play it safe.
Sometimes I will take notes about stories I find myself sucked into, whether that’s in the New Yorker or The Atlantic or GQ. They all tell someone’s story in a way that’s uniquely compelling and humanizing, and that’s what I strive to do for folks I interview. Being a founder or investor or executive is incredibly hard! I want to show the struggles and challenges that have gotten them to where they are as a testament to their hard work and ingenuity. That’s a story I would want to read.
What’s an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career so far?
To be totally honest, I consider having this job to be an accomplishment in and of itself. I was told ‘no’ by professors and mentors for so long that I started to believe I would never make the switch. I’ve had to overcome so many hurdles just to get here that I recognize how privileged I am to have this career. It’s really hard most days, but I still wake up excited and eager to keep doing it.
My dog is a morning person. He likes to wake up bright and early for his first meal and walk of the day, so we’re usually up with the sun. Pre-pandemic, I usually packed up and went to the gym afterwards. Now, I get a more leisurely morning with a run or home workout and lots of coffee before opening Slack and starting the day.
What’s one piece of career advice you’d give a young person looking to follow in your footsteps?
Any experience is relevant experience when you want to be a reporter. There is no right way to come to this job, so everything you learn along the way will help in the long run! If you have to build a financial base for yourself before making the jump, take a higher paying job in an adjacent industry relevant to what you are interested in learning about.
When you’re not writing, what can we find you doing?
I’m online for most of my workday, so all my spare time is usually spent outside without screens. I love to hike, camp, and rock climb, so my weekends are typically some combination of those three activities!