Posted on | October 22, 2012 | 11 Comments
Every newsroom is a seething cauldron of frustrated ambition. It’s been that way forever, and is true everywhere.
Nobody goes into the news business with the goal of being the headline writer on the obituary page, but somebody’s got to do it, and the phenomenon of the “disgruntled staffer” is not really interesting unless the guy shows up for work one day with a high-powered rifle, four or five clips of ammo, and a grim determination to finally get his name on the front page.
It was in this light that I read McKay Coppins’s BuzzFeed article today about “disgruntled staffers” at Breitbart.com.
To make a long story short: So what?
There’s nothing in this article that was really news to me. I know nearly everyone at Breitbart.com, and like all of them — just for example, I was hanging out with Andrew at the 2007 YAF West Coast conference where he first met Alex Marlow — and if some of them don’t like other . . . again, so what?
Is there some rule that everybody in a news operation must like each other? Or that the staff writers must always agree with the editorial choices of management? If so, nobody ever told me about it, and I’ve been in the news business since 1986.
In other words, whatever your opinion of the internal quarrels of the Breitbart.com staff — who’s right or wrong, who’s good or bad — it’s really just the typical grumbling common to all news operations.
The same backstage rivalry goes on every day at Fox News or CNN or the Iowa Hog Farmers Gazette.
And what McKay Coppins has done is to exploit that for profit at BuzzFeed, playing “concern troll,” as if he admired Andrew Breitbart and shared Breitbart’s goals or ideals. He didn’t.
Finally, to my friends at Breitbart: If you don’t like your job or you don’t like your boss, you can always quit.
If you feel that your value to the organization is insufficiently appreciated, the smart thing to do is to offer your resignation and seek employment elsewhere. I’ve often reflected with amusement that, when I resigned from The Washington Times in 2008 — after they hired a guy from the Post to replace the retiring Wes Pruden — they were willing to let me walk away.
Since then, they’ve gone through three editors, massive layoffs, a disastrously expensive blunder of a Web site re-design and, when last I heard, were about to hire their fourth editor in as many years.
That may not seem like much, but it ain’t failure, and is much better than the misfortune of folks who got laid off in the staff-cutting bloodbaths that followed my departure from the Times.
Moral of the story: If you think the guys running the operation don’t know what they’re doing, get out while the getting’s good. Otherwise, shut up and do your job.
And don’t ever tell McKay Coppins jack shit, either way.