Joanne Griffith is managing editor of California Newsroom, a collaboration of public radio stations around California that launched in 2020. Previously, she edited and produced for the BBC, NPR, Southern California Public Radio, and American Public Media’s Marketplace. Before moderating the Zócalo/Center for Social Innovation event, “Can Local Media Restore Trust and Destroy Disinformation?,” the U.K. transplant to Southern California talked about her favorite Britishisms, what London and L.A. have in common, and her pandemic silver lining.
What did you have for breakfast today?
I had a raspberry fig bar because I couldn’t be bothered to cook anything, and it was in our little tin of cereal bars.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, always, always, always. I grew up in the U.K., and we lived very close to an airport, and we’d see these airplanes flying overhead. If you stay in an airplane, you can kind of just carry up to the moon—you know, kid logic. For the longest time I wanted to be an astronaut and conduct experiments, and then I realized the amount of math and science you needed to know, and so I became a journalist instead.
What is your favorite Britishism or the one you find yourself using most often these days?
[Laughs.] I think I say “blimey” a lot. Like, “That’s awful,” “That’s terrible,” or “Jeez, is that happening again?” It’s also not profanity, so I can get away with saying it around my kid, which is pretty handy. I still say “lorry” instead of truck, which can be problematic. And I still say “rubbish” instead of trash.
What’s the last TV show you binged?
Bridgerton! I think I watched about five hours straight. It was great.
What reliably makes you laugh?
A really good meme—a smart photo. Puns and what have you. A friend and I have been sharing some ridiculous memes today, which had me bent out of shape for a good couple of hours.
What do London and Los Angeles have in common?
Absolutely nothing! I say that as a joke. Actually, there are many similarities. Diversity is something that they have in common. You walk around L.A., and you see people from different places; you hear different languages being spoken; it’s very easy to get ahold of foods from around the world. In that respect, they’re very similar. I’m grateful for that.
When are you at your most creative?
Late at night between the hours of about 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. because it’s quiet, and I can just think, and write or edit or kind of put things together. Or when I’m sitting by nice bodies of warm water, like the Caribbean Sea.
What’s your favorite condiment?
Bajan Hot Sauce. My family’s from Barbados, and it’s the hot sauce they make there. I put it on everything.
What’s been your pandemic silver lining?
Cuddles with my husband and my son at random times of day. That’s been really nice.
What local story are you most proud of helping California Newsroom tell so far?
I think it would be COVID—that we’ve been able to find different ways to tell that story, either through audience engagement or Spanish-language content or program specials where we’ve given people space to call in. Also looking at the intersection of COVID and race, which really became apparent with the racial reckoning our country and industry are having after George Floyd. I literally started a year ago, and it was the California primary, then it was COVID, then it was racial justice, then it was wildfires, then it was more pandemic. So I kind of feel like there hasn’t been one story. Oh yeah, then the election, I forgot about that!