Tag Archives: new yorker

Why can’t this be real?

I truly believe this week’s New Yorker cover should be passed into law. It’s a pedestrian-traffic solution I’ve often dreamed about (while power walking in the middle of the street, fuming and muttering obscenities), but couldn’t summon the inner Swift to bring to light. Thank you, Bruce McCall, for doing in paint what I could never do in…well…anything.

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.

What is this shit doing in my New Yorker?

Did you read this article in the current New Yorker about a philanthropist revitalizing Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park? And did you find it strange when the writer, Philip Gourevitch, used the word “shit” in describing hippos’ important ecological role?

It really caught me off guard. Not that I think it’s inherently inappropriate to use expletives¬† (fucking obviously), but it’s jarring in a quasi-scientific context. I studied wildlife management and ecology in East Africa, and I don’t remember ever discussing “shit.” (Unless we were talking Typhoid and pit toilets.) Just sayin.