Derek Thompson (journalist)

American journalist and author

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Derek Thompson
Born (1986-05-18) May 18, 1986 (age 36)
McLean, Virginia, United States
  • Journalist
  • podcaster
Alma materNorthwestern University

Derek Kahn Thompson (born May 18, 1986) is an American journalist. He is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction.

Early life

Derek Thompson was born in McLean, Virginia, the son of Robert Thompson and Petra Kahn, both deceased.[1][2] Before graduating from high school, he appeared in several theatrical productions at the Folger Shakespeare Theater[3] and the Shakespeare Theater.[4] Thompson graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.[5]


Thompson has been a writer at The Atlantic since 2009.[6] Starting in November 2021, Thompson began hosting a weekly headline podcast entitled Plain English, part of The Ringer Podcast Network.[7] In 2018, he became the host of the technology and science podcast Crazy/Genius, which was nominated for an iHeartMedia Best Podcast Award in its first year.[8]

Thompson has written two cover stories for the magazine. The first, "A World Without Work", is a widely referenced[9][10] essay on the meaning of work and automation's threat to the labor force. The second was a lengthy profile of X, the research and development division of Alphabet.[11]

In 2017, Thompson published his first book, Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction. It was a national bestseller[12] and winner of the American Marketing Association's Leonard L. Berry Marketing Book Award for the best marketing book of 2018.[13]

On July 27, 2020, Thompson coined the term "hygiene theater" when referring to hygiene measures being taken during the COVID-19 pandemic that have done little to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and have provided a false sense of security.[14][15]

Personal life

Thompson lives in Washington D.C.[16]

Since 2016 he has been a member of Giving What We Can, a community of people who have pledged to give at least 10% of their income to effective charities.[17]


  1. ^ "Bob Thompson Obituary".
  2. ^ "Petra Kahn Obituary". Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  3. ^ "For Grandy, No More Gopher". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Fleshing Out King John". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "Author Derek Thompson Returns to NU to Discuss New Book". The Daily Northwestern. 4 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Derek Thompson Author Page".
  7. ^ Thompson, Derek (2021-11-11). "Introducing 'Plain English with Derek Thompson'". The Ringer. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  8. ^ "iHeartMedia Podcast Awards".
  9. ^ "Derek Thompson - A World Without Work". YouTube.
  10. ^ "Challenges loom as tech takeover grows".
  11. ^ "Google X and the Science of Radical Creativity". 10 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Hit Makers". Penguin Random House.
  13. ^ "The Leonard L. Berry Marketing Book Award".
  14. ^ Thompson, Derek (2020-07-27). "Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-02-22.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Landsverk, Gabby (2020-10-14). "5 bogus coronavirus protection measures that are just 'hygiene theater' — and 2 things that actually do work". Insider. Retrieved 2021-02-22.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town". 15 October 2018.
  17. ^ "[Interview] Why Derek Thompson of The Atlantic took the Giving What We Can pledge". Retrieved 2022-04-13.
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