Anne Helen Petersen

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Anne Helen Petersen
EducationWhitman College (BA)
University of Oregon (MA)
University of Texas at Austin (PhD)
Occupation(s)Writer, journalist, culture critic
EmployerBuzzFeed News

Anne Helen Petersen is an American writer and journalist. She worked as a Senior Culture Writer for BuzzFeed until August 2020,[1] when she began writing full-time for her newsletter "Culture Study" on Substack.[2] Petersen has also been published in the opinion section of The New York Times.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Lewiston, Idaho,[4] Petersen first graduated from Whitman College in 2003 with a BA in Rhetoric and Film Studies.[5] She then completed an MA in English from the University of Oregon in 2007, and a PhD in media studies in 2011 from the University of Texas at Austin where she studied the history of the gossip industry.[6]


While a visiting professor at Whitman College, Petersen began writing about popular culture topics for online news and entertainment sites (including the Scandals of Classic Hollywood series at the Hairpin)[7][8] and found that she enjoyed non-academic writing.[9] In May 2014 she moved to New York to write for BuzzFeed News.[9]

In 2014, she published her first piece for BuzzFeed, "Jennifer Lawrence and the History of Cool Girls."[10] She also authored her first book, the non-fiction Scandals of Classic Hollywood, based on her Hairpin series. Informed by her scholarship, she continued to write about celebrities throughout her time at BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News, including Adam Driver,[11] Keira Knightley,[12] Taylor Kitsch,[13] Charlize Theron,[14] Justin Timberlake,[15] Kate Hudson,[16] Margot Robbie,[17] Jennifer Aniston,[18] and Kim Kardashian.[19] In 2017, Petersen wrote a piece about actor Armie Hammer, "Ten Long Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen", analyzing Hammer's star image from 2007 to 2017.[20] The article became controversial and provoked criticism and backlash from Hammer, film industry figures, and other journalists.[21] Subsequently, Petersen received online harassment.[22]

Her work at BuzzFeed was not limited to celebrities. She reported on the COVID-19 pandemic,[23] student loans,[24] Native Americans voting in elections,[25] expanding Medicaid,[26] refugee resettlement,[27] religion,[28] the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases,[29] and bachelorette parties.[30] Being a native of Lewiston, Idaho, she was credited with being able to bring a Western small town and rural perspective to a national audience,[4] on issues such as Antifa,[31] gun politics,[32] 2017 Montana's at-large congressional district special election's relation with national politics,[33] and the COVID-19 anti-lockdown protests in the United States.[34]

In 2019, Petersen wrote a piece on millennial burnout for BuzzFeed News that has had over 7 million views.[35] She then expanded that piece into a book that was published in 2020, Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.

In August 2020, she quit her job at Buzzfeed News to pursue her Substack newsletter Culture Study as a full-time venture.[36] Along with her partner Charlie Warzel, she wrote the book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home, published in December 2021.[37] A 2024 Forbes profile described Petersen as "the voice of a micro-generation," those born between 1977-1985.[38] The piece reported that Culture Study is "one of Substack’s top newsletters," with 184,000 subscribers.[38]

From October 2022 to October 2023, Petersen hosted the Work Appropriate podcast on the Crooked Media podcast network. She launched a new podcast, Culture Study, in December 2023.

Personal life[edit]

Petersen lives in Lummi Island, Washington[39] with her partner Charlie Warzel, a former New York Times Opinion writer who now writes the newsletter "Galaxy Brain" for The Atlantic.[40] The couple have two dogs named Steve and Peggy[41] and previously lived in Brooklyn[37] and Missoula, Montana.[1] As of September 2020, Petersen is 39 years old.[42] She is of Norwegian descent.[43] Her younger brother, Charles Petersen, is a senior editor of the magazine n+1.


  • Petersen, Anne Helen (2014). Scandals of Classic Hollywood. New York: Plume.
  • Petersen, Anne Helen (2017). Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud. New York: Plume.
  • Petersen, Anne Helen (2020). Can't Even. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Warzel, Charlie; Petersen, Anne Helen (2021). Out of Office. New York: Knopf.


  1. ^ a b "Anne Helen Petersen on BuzzFeed". BuzzFeed. September 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "Culture Study". Substack.
  3. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (September 10, 2020). "Opinion | I Used to Go Out. Now I Go to The Home Depot". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Schmidt, Michelle (October 11, 2017). "Lewiston native follows celebrity gossip to NYC, returns West in pursuit of political understanding". Inland 360.
  5. ^ "Anne Helen Petersen on LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  6. ^ "Anne Helen Petersen". Penguin Random House.
  7. ^ "Classic Scandals". The Hairpin. Medium.
  8. ^ Marthe, Emalie (October 6, 2014). "What Do You Do with a PhD in Celebrity Gossip?". Vice.
  9. ^ a b O'Regan, Mary (September 18, 2019). "Anne Helen Petersen wants you to take 30 minutes to just read". Pocket. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  10. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (February 28, 2014). "Jennifer Lawrence and the History of Cool Girls". BuzzFeed.
  11. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (December 16, 2019). "Adam Driver Really Might Be *The* Actor of His Generation". BuzzFeed News.
  12. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (September 25, 2018). "A Unified Theory of Keira Knightley". BuzzFeed News.
  13. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (February 27, 2018). "How Taylor Kitsch Is Fixing His Broken Movie Star Image". BuzzFeed News.
  14. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (July 29, 2017). "Charlize Theron is Not Here to Make Friends". BuzzFeed News.
  15. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (January 5, 2018). "Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, and the Western Rehab for White Masculinity". BuzzFeed News.
  16. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (May 25, 2019). "Kate Hudson Was Destined For Hollywood Greatness. Then She Pivoted To Leggings". BuzzFeed News.
  17. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (February 7, 2020). "How Margot Robbie Changed Her Hollywood Destiny". BuzzFeed News.
  18. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (November 8, 2019). "Jennifer Aniston is Angry Now and It's Thrilling to Watch". BuzzFeed News.
  19. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (June 15, 2017). "How Kim Kardashian Pushed the Boundaries of Celebrity Pregnancy". BuzzFeed News.
  20. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (November 26, 2017). "Ten Long Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen". BuzzFeed News.
  21. ^ Sharf, Zack (November 27, 2017). "Armie Hammer Slams Anti-Armie Hammer Buzzfeed Article: 'Your Perspective Is Bitter AF'". IndieWire. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Aiello, McKenna (February 27, 2018). "Armie Hammer Revives Twitter Feud With Buzzfeed Writer: Maybe Try "Medicating"". E! Online. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (March 31, 2020). "This Pandemic Is Not Your Vacation". BuzzFeed News.
  24. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (February 9, 2019). "Here's Why So Many Americans Feel Cheated By Their Student Loans". BuzzFeed News.
  25. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen; Brewer, Graham Lee (October 28, 2018). "Why Is It So Hard for Native Americans to Vote in This Utah County?". BuzzFeed News.
  26. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (April 12, 2018). "These Volunteers Are Battling Idahos Government to Expand Medicaid". BuzzFeed News.
  27. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (May 20, 2017). "How Dallas Became One of America's Most Refugee-Friendly Cities". BuzzFeed News.
  28. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (December 12, 2019). "This Sort-of Socialist Church is Taking a Radical Approach to Christianity". BuzzFeed News.
  29. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (December 20, 2017). "How the Weinstein Revelations Became Hollywood's Biggest Scandal in 95 Years". BuzzFeed News.
  30. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (March 29, 2018). "How Nashville Became One Big Bachelorette Party". BuzzFeed News.
  31. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (June 9, 2020). "How the Antifa Fantasy Spread in Small Towns Across the US". BuzzFeed News.
  32. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (October 2, 2017). "Why Do We Keep Having the Same Argument About Guns?". BuzzFeed News.
  33. ^ "Why This New York Journalist Thinks Montana' Special Election is a Case Study for National Politics". Yellowstone Public Radio. May 18, 2017.
  34. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (May 2, 2020). "This Doctor Is Suggesting COVID-19 Lockdowns Are A Conspiracy To Take Away Your Freedom". BuzzFeed News.
  35. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen (January 5, 2019). "How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation". BuzzFeed News.
  36. ^ Twitter Retrieved January 8, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ a b "Working 9 to 5? 'Out of Office' author says maybe it's time to rethink that". Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  38. ^ a b Shoenthal, Amy. "The Voice Of A Micro-Generation: Anne Helen Petersen". Forbes. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  39. ^ "Work-related: 'Out of Office' with Anne Helen Petersen". Montana Public Radio. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  40. ^ "Welcome To Galaxy Brain 2.0!". Galaxy Brain. November 1, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  41. ^ Petersen, Anne Helen. "Culture Study | Anne Helen Petersen | Substack". Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  42. ^ "Anne Helen Petersen Talks Millennial Burnout". NPR. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  43. ^ Anne Helen Petersen [@annehelen] (January 17, 2021). "Alright, weird question for a Saturday night: I've been very diverted and delightfully absorbed by researching my Norwegian family on, and the roadblocks always come at that name transition point between Norway and the US..." (Tweet). Retrieved January 18, 2021 – via Twitter.