I’ve been a business reporter at USA TODAY since 2015, based in the Washington, D.C. area. Before that, I was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.
At USA TODAY, I cover a wide range of business news with a focus on short-term enterprise and some breaking stories. My coverage areas include business change, the auto industry, bankruptcy and the business of personal health. I am also responsible for writing and leading the “Daily Money” newsletter – our M-F roundup of the day’s personal finance, business and tech news.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
I am constantly looking for fascinating stories on how business is changing. I don’t cover the economy as much as I do companies and issues affecting business. We are primarily focused on stories that affect the consumer. So, for example, we’re less interested in stories about automotive executives and more interested in stories about the culture of cars and how it’s evolving. Our readers are very interested in what’s happening with self-driving cars, electric vehicles and automotive safety.
Whenever there’s a major bankruptcy happening, I’ll probably be covering it, given my history of covering bankruptcy cases like the city of Detroit, Puerto Rico, Sears and J.C. Penney. I find them fascinating. And recently I began increasing my coverage of the business of personal health, which includes everything from how companies are handling COVID vaccines to how dentists are grappling with the pandemic.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
The most dynamic story I’ve ever covered was the Detroit bankruptcy. It had incredible implications, amazing history, fascinating characters and impressive scope. After covering it for the Detroit Free Press, I wrote a nationally published book telling the inside story: Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
In 2018, I co-authored a project on the nation’s pedestrian safety crisis. We exposed the fact that the SUV boom has contributed extensively to the crisis, and that the government has been aware that SUVs are much deadlier for pedestrians than cars but has done little about it. That project also had the unusual effect of changing my own behavior. I’m now much more aware of how vulnerable we are as pedestrians and so, for example, I make sure never to be on my phone when crossing the street.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
We’re looking for fresh angles on stories that affect the average consumer. Anything that’s actionable for them will be notable to us. I love stories on business trends.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
My journalism career actually started in high school in Saline, Michigan, when I joined the school paper and concurrently began working for the community weekly. I was fortunate enough to get a part-time staff writing job at age 17 for The Saline Reporter and continued working there through college. So I guess that means I’ve been in journalism for about 20 years now!
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Reading news, reading books, watching the Green Bay Packers (I’m originally from Wisconsin!), playing and watching golf, attending musicals and plays and writing on the side.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
The most effective PR people have a great grasp of what I’ve been covering and are able to explain how their pitch fits into the arc of stories I’ve written recently. They also usually recognize that the best way to go about their pitch is to explain how it fits in a trend that’s gone unnoticed or little reported. I’ve had times where a PR person points out a story I was not aware of – so don’t assume that we see everything! Also, of course, whenever we get offered a genuinely impactful exclusive, we always give that serious consideration, too.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
In general, please don’t send numerous emails about the same pitch. I get 400 to 500 work emails a day, so it’s hard enough to keep up. Also, you can certainly send non-customized pitches if you want to, but your chances of breaking through the clutter with a pitch that’s not personalized are not very good.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
In addition to my job at USA TODAY, I’ve also written a few nonfiction books, including Detroit Resurrected, which I mentioned earlier.
I’m very excited about my new book coming out on May 21, Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together in a Polarized Age. Basically, I went out beginning in late 2018 and visited people who are bringing others together despite their differences, whether its politics, race, religion, class and culture. I think there’s a lot we can learn from them. Fundamentally, this is a book about leadership and the principles of effective communication and relationship building – and how they present a path toward combatting polarization.
You can follow Nathan on Twitter at: @NathanBomey
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