Stumbling into the Food Sector with Danielle Wiener-Bronner


April 21, 2020


Business, Culture


Danielle Wiener-Bronner (Credit: CNN)

“I always loved writing, but I never planned to be a journalist. Frankly, I never thought I could get someone to pay me to write.” Danielle Wiener-Bronner said of her entry into the world of journalism. Currently a CNN Business writer in the food sector, she went to school for economics and American history before landing her first internship at HuffPost. 

During her last semester of school and into the summer after graduation, she worked at a publishing house, which is where she envisioned herself working full-time after her internship there. However, life had different plans. While she was looking for her next move, a friend connected Wiener-Bronner with her boss at HuffPost who ultimately ended up hiring her as an intern, much to her surprise. 

She’s been living in the world of journalism ever since.

After polishing her craft through gigs at Thomson Reuters, The Wire, and Fusion Media Group, Wiener-Bronner began her work at what was formerly CNNMoney. When it was relaunched as CNN Business, she was assigned to the food beat. 

“It’s been a real treat to delve into the food sector,” she said. “I get to write about something that touches everyone’s lives, cover brands that people feel emotionally connected to, and sometimes, get really in the weeds about how food gets made.”

With her background in economics, she brings a unique angle to her writing, zeroing in on the intersection of food and business. Most of her work focuses on why companies in the food industry make the choices that they do and what the business drivers are behind those choices. 

That convergence could quickly turn into a business school text, however, her work is smart and crisp. In one of her recent pieces, Forget plastic straws. Starbucks has a cup problem, she explains the motivating factors behind Starbucks’ swift action to remove plastic straws, while they struggle to address a much more significant environmental drag: paper cups. 

She covers everything from What the pandemic means for your Easter food shopping to Dairy Farmers of America putting in a bid on Dean Foods’ business, with the same goal of “helping readers make sense of the world we live in.”

While some of her topics are smaller scale, like highlighting the ongoing fast food breakfast wars, she doesn’t shy away from big topics, like understanding the impact panic has on food sourcing and keeping grocery store shelves stocked during a pandemic.

Wiener-Bronner says her favorite piece — so far, she emphasizes, hoping her best work is ahead — was a highly collaborative piece that delved into addressing the root cause of needing to recycle by creating reusable containers for products through a “modern milkman” solution called Loop. The data-heavy yet interesting narrative of the story shows off Danielle’s expert ability to learn deeply about a complicated topic and then translate that into a captivating and digestible story for a reader to enjoy. 

“One of my favorite things to do is tackle complex subjects by asking experts and sources a lot of questions,” she explained. “And to present my findings to my readers in the clearest possible way.”

So where did she learn to do that so well?

Having studied econ may have helped a bit, but her previous jobs — and co-workers — are what best prepared her for the job she does today

“I am still learning at CNN Business. I have amazing, talented colleagues who are generous with their time and expertise, and I am very grateful to them.” she explained. 

Wiener-Bronner’s best advice for young journalists is to be flexible and make friends.  

“It’s a constantly evolving industry, which makes planning ahead difficult and possibly unproductive,” she said. “I met some of my closest friends at the jobs I’ve had and have leaned on them over the years both personally and professionally.”

So what’s next for her?

It’s tough to say. Wiener-Bronner considers herself subject-agnostic and can get “really jazzed about pretty wonky things.” But, she explained, she would love to get into narrative nonfiction to find a way to write longer, reported pieces on things that are important and interesting. And weird.

But for now, she’s happy where she is. The food beat may not have been where Danielle intended to be when she started out her career, but she found her place in it quite comfortably.

“I just landed there!” she said. “But it was a really good place to land.”

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