Your success is not a story

Please read this before pitching me.

The most common pitch I get goes something like this: Hi, I’m X, I think you should write about [how I or my company achieved some great success]. 

For instance, “How I went from 0 to X number of TikTok views,” or “How I build a million dollar business at 25,” or “How I built a great amazing company that is changing the world and making everyone’s life better in every way.”

These are not stories, they’re PR.

Unless your story ties into some larger cultural trend, or holds some type of important wider significance, I am not interested in covering it. And frankly, it’s not newsworthy. 

It’s my job to tell compelling stories that inform and reshape how people view the world. Stories without a larger narrative don’t travel and they’re a waste of both of our time. Look at how many Forbes Contributors out there post stories of people’s successes (often in exchange for money). They never resonate.

These stories aren’t interesting to readers primarily because they have no tension aside from the subject (who is only framed positively), overcoming some perceived obstacle. They pretty much always gloss over what’s really going on and they don’t leave the reader with any surprising revelations or tangible ideas to think about.

Just to be clear, I don’t want people to stop reaching out to me. I love when people introduce themselves or share a little bit about who they are and what they do. But, I’m much more likely to work with you if you reach out offering to help me, rather than ask for free promotion.

Flag an emerging new trend to me, send me a funny meme, give me a tip on a big breaking news story or trend. I love all of these things! You can always find me at or on DM. Even if I can’t respond I try to read every message.

I’m also always here to help students or any young person with any questions about journalism, media, the NYT, whatever! Just don’t ask me to write a puff piece on your great success.

The Green vs Purple GTA Gang War Taking Over TikTok

You've probably seen this all over TikTok

I did a Twitter thread on this, but since I’m trying to be better about sending this newsletter and I wanted to have a link for posterity, here’s a little explanation of a trend that’s blowing up right now on TikTok.

You’ve probably seen the zillion TikToks cropping up about green vs purple, here’s what it’s about:

In Grand Theft Auto there’s an online mode where you play with other people. You can choose outfits to wear, sort of like Fortnite.

A short time ago, a bunch of kids put on the green alien looking suit outfit and made “green alien gang.” Other kids put on purple outfits and created a “purple gang” as rivals. They all play in one world and record their battles and post them with “green team” or “purple team” usually to Travis Scott audio.

The top videos for a lot of rap songs on TikTok have become completely dominated by green gang vs purple gang content. It’s inescapable.

In order to spread the content and go viral, hundreds of kids have begun making green or purple gang TikTok pages, many of which are getting tens of thousands of followers. The pages usually link to green or purple Discord servers for ppl who want to join the team and coordinate plays.

In addition to the green and purple gang, there are also kids who play in hazmat suits and monkey outfits. Recently, another gang of kids put on suits to capture members of the green gang, then kids put on monkey outfits to fight the suits. That’s why a lot of TikToks feature people in monkey suits. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the most popular gangs on GTA currently.

According to one TikTok, green gang and purple gang leaders recently “sat down to discuss the turf war.” Sadly, an agreement could not be reached. The warfare continues and lots of kids have begun changing their TikTok profile pictures to green or purple aliens in solidarity.

Green vs purple fight videos are raking up hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok, which is only getting more kids involved. The meme has also crossed over to normal TikTokers who have begun creating content around it simply because it’s trending. They don’t play GTA or really know what’s going on, but they want to ride the viral wave. This is a similar thing to what happened when LEGO Star Wars took over TikTok and members of the Hype House joined the LEGO Star Wars army by changing their profile pictures.

The green gang reigns supreme for the time being at 14.2 million members, per one gaming commentator.

For a look at more of these videos just search #greenaliengang, #purplegang, or any #gta5 related hashtag on TikTok. My thread also has a lot of TikToks.

Famous Birthdays Is A Wikipedia For Gen Z

Famous Birthdays has become a go-to database of teen culture—and is ushering in a whole new generation of stars.

Hi! I wrote about Famous Birthdays.

If you want to know who the biggest TikTok star is right now, who is in Emma Chamberlain's squad, or where Baby Ariel grew up, there's only one website that will give you the answers: Famous Birthdays.

Despite its name, the site contains more than just birthdays—it’s more like a constantly updated, highly detailed map  of who matters to the teen internet, featuring a mix of biographical information, photos, videos, rankings, and detailed statistics on every social media star you could think of. And to teenagers, it's a Bible. "They have everything you want to know about everyone who is important," said Grace, a 14-year-old in St. Louis.

READ MORE: Famous Birthdays Is A Wikipedia For Gen Z

Emma Chamberlain and the Rise of the Relatable YouTuber

Teens are abandoning hyper-produced personalities for people who seem just like them.

I wrote about EMMA CHAMBERLAIN and how she's transformed YouTube and why teens love her.

Emma is a complete homegrown YouTube star, she literally started with 0 followers two years ago and now has over 8M. Unlike the current class of big YouTubers, she didn't get big on another platform first or come up through collabs.

Chamberlain is best known for pioneering an editing style that it feels like literally every teen girl on YouTube has adopted. It's super fast moving, tons of cuts, lots of face and voice distortions, floating images, basic text, and just a very lo-fi vibe.

While Chamberlain is the biggest and most notable "relatable" YouTuber, she's part of a whole rising class of young women on YouTube who vlog in that style including Joana Ceddia, Summer McKeen, Hannah Meloche, Hailey Sani, Ellie Thuman, Haley Pham, and more.

READ MORE: Emma Chamberlain and the Rise of the Relatable YouTuber

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