Tag Archives: journalism

Journalism, by the Numbers, by the Wayside

For a quick by-the-numbers lesson on the sad state of current media affairs, read the opening sentence of media guru Ken Auletta’s column in this week’s New Yorker:

In the past three years, newspaper advertising revenues have plummeted, a fourth of all newsroom employees have been laid off or have accepted buyouts, and more than a hundred free local papers have folded.

The industry’s unlikely hero, Auletta continues, is AOL, which has hired 900 journalists in the last year, adding another 40 each week to its mushrooming Patch local newsroom network. Or should that be anti-hero? The compendium of online newspapers in small, affluent communities numbers 700 in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and each is run by an editor who makes, Auletta reports, between $40,000 and $50,000 a year.

Just a few short years ago, $40k was the starting salary for a bottom-of-the-masthead magazine reporter. Not, certainly, what an effective Editor-in-Chief should even consider. Honestly, I don’t know what Patch writers make, but I know it’s not much, and that it is a source of much nervous and angry chatter among journalists who are hungry for work but unwilling to chew and swallow their pride for sustenance. It’s no wonder we’re all so fucking bitter.

Other, funnier numbers from the story include:

  • 50% of internet surfers logged on using AOL pay-per-minute dial-up service in the late 1990s
  • 35 million AOL users in 2002
  • 4 million AOL users today (and falling precipitously)
  • 75% of current AOL dial-up subscribers have DSL or cable hook-ups and don’t need AOL — but don’t realize it
  • $9.99-$25.90 per month: price of AOL’s dial-up plan options [not in the story; I added that one]

Still being able to subscribe to the New Yorker and read it in print on the subway: Priceless.

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I’m Writing a Story — Bring Me a Blond

There’s a little something I’m trying in the new year. It’s writing for other women, instead of exclusively nerdy pubescent and octogenarian males. Some time next month my first articles in a couple major women’s magazines will start to appear on newsstands, adding some softer edges to my portfolio — and some rougher ones to my personality.

Though writing for chick rags has been a welcoming entree into a world of puffy stories and exclamatory emails, I’ve also come up against the industry’s Spanxed underbelly, a cavern of cantankerous cuntery and fantastically unreasonable expectations buttressed by some of publishing’s most solid ad numbers and reader loyalty. The video above is frighteningly accurate. It’s not as much of an exaggeration as you think. I have received some of these very instructions from automaton editors. Get me three whiteshoe professionals from the midwest, one told me, no temps. From another:  I get most of my story ideas just talking to my friends and turning it into a trend piece.

Hit play for a glimpse into the terrifying trials of freelancing for the ladymags. It gives a good sense, too, of the general humility and humiliation veritably wrapped up in the freelancer’s job description.

[From Slate. Thanks, Jolene.]

Techy Wordplay Suggests Corporate Ass Play

Headlines like this one on News.com.au make me wonder if web editors are too pressed for time to see the big picture, or if web writers are quiet geniuses exploiting the 24-hour news cycle to publish subversively hilarious copy:

Possibly related posts:
RIM’s Balsillie Tears Jobs a New One;
Unimpressed, Jobs Turns Other Cheek
RIM Market Share Comes up on Apple from Behind
BlackBerry Claims It’s Not the Size of the Chip, but the Research in the Motion

BlackBerry Makes Reach for Jobs’ 10-Incher, Apple Could Take a Licking in the End

New Blog Post Shows Most Blog Posts are the Same Shit

This rather brilliant post from Martin Robbins’ The Lay Scientist blog on the Guardian website basically sums up what I (try to) do for a living. Those who can’t do teach and those who can’t hack it in the lab write… formulaically.

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of “scare quotes” to ensure that it’s clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges”.

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