Sarah Maslin Nir, 32, got her start at The New York Times in 2009 after she stayed up for 24 hours straight to cold pitch one of the editors. She sent him almost a dozen stories in one night and the next morning received word that two had been accepted.
In May Nir published the shocking two-part investigative series “Unvarnished” in the Times, uncovering the poor working conditions and health dangers of nail salons throughout New York City. It resulted in swift actions from Governor Andrew Cuomo to conduct investigations and change the rules in salons.
In the intervening six years, she told the Forward, she worked her way up from freelancer to columnist (as “The Nocturnalist” she covered lavish parties and nightlife that included “being chased by Alec Baldwin around the Hamptons”). She now covers Queens as a staff writer on the Metro section.
Nir grew up in Manhattan, graduating from Columbia both as an undergraduate and from the journalism school. She attributes her audacity to her late father, Yehuda Nir. He was a Holocaust survivor who escaped persecution by posing as a Roman Catholic in Poland. He would tell Nir to erase the divide between “them and us,” which became one of the mantras she brings to her work.
“It’s dangerous when there’s us and them,” said Nir. “And there never really is, there’s humanity. As a journalist, I set out to make the world a smaller place.”
“It’s a daily chutzpah,” Nir said of journalism. “It’s a creed we follow and I love it.”