Posted on | March 10, 2013 | 42 Comments
“I remember walking down Barlett Street in the Mission and saying to myself, out loud, ‘I’m a writer. I’m a writer! I’M A WRITER!’ It was all I’d wanted to be since I was 16 years old. And I was making it.”
— Alexis C. Madrigal, “A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013,” The Atlantic
You need to descrease your Red Bull intake, kid. And your dream? Too small, really. Certainly too small to pile up student debt for the tuition at Harvard ($54,496 a year). There’s a book about that.
An Ivy League education is not a prerequisite to being a writer, yet I have long noticed that The Atlantic has a fetish for Harvardians, so there is this sense of clubby cliqueishness about it. This is not mere elitism and it’s not “meritocracy.” It’s credentialism, is what it is.
And it is impossible to imagine that any Harvard alumnus ever would have walked into the offices of the (now defunct) Cobb News-Chronicle on Love Street in Austell, Georgia, on a spring day in 1986 and walked out with an assignment to cover the City Council meeting that night.
While I don’t recall saying out loud, “I’m a writer,” I was happy to have a job, and the pay was $4.50 an hour.
This was less than I’d been paid to drive a forklift in a warehouse on Fulton Industrial Boulevard for the past year and a half, but I didn’t have to wear a hard hat, there was no heavy lifting involved, and this entry-level gig offered hope that one day at the Jax State reunion, I’d have a respectable answer to the question, “What are you doing these days?”
Being a reporter — or, subsequently, a sports editor, etc. — was at least the kind of coat-and-tie job a college graduate was supposed to have. Whether journalism is an altogether respectable profession is a subject of much debate lately. Apparently, everybody in this racket is now either (a) plagiarizing, (b) working for shady foreign dictators, or (c) hustling for peanuts while competing for page-views with LOLCats.
Would it be wrong to blame this on Alexis C. Madrigal, Harvard ’04? Yes.
But we need someone to blame, kid, and you’ll do for now. So . . .
This self-indulgent and arguably self-aggrandizing rant of yours about what it’s like to work as Web editor for The Atlantic? I’m not saying that there is anything factually inaccurate about it, but the general tone of the thing is insufferably smug, Harvard Boy.
Like you invented the fucking Internet or something. We took a vote, Alexis, and it was unanimous: We all want to stab your eyes out.
How dare you — who have never been down range, as it were — presume any standing to lecture Nate Thayer as having done something “nasty,” about which you have any right to be “incensed”?
Whatever stuff you were flinging over the digital transom circa 2004 that made you say, “I’m a writer,” I’m reasonably certain it wasn’t the kind of work Nate Thayer does, which involves traveling places where news is happening, seeing it with your own eyes, and taking notes.
As I say, I’m reasonably certain you never did that kind of work, Alexis, because if you had paid those kind of dues, you certainly would have shared the universal umbrage at the disrespectful way your “global editor” Olga treated Nate Thayer.
Your pious sermonette about how hard it is to do your job, and why Olga couldn’t have at least offered Nate $50 for the 1,200-word article she solicited from him, would never have come to my attention, Alexis, if I hadn’t been monitoring my Site Meter and noticed incoming traffic from liberal economist Brad DeLong’s blog.
“Oh, shit,” I thought. “What have I done this time?”
Generally speaking, liberal blogs never link me except in scornful outrage, but this time — “Noted for March 10, 2013” — I found a link down at the end for my take on the Juan Williams scandal. Thanks, Professor DeLong, and thank you also for linking Alexis C. Madrigal, Harvard ’04, because my blood pressure probably wasn’t high enough already, and there’s nothing like aerobic cursing to get that cardiovascular thing going.
DIE, YOU FUCKING HARVARD PUNK!
And I say that not merely on my own behalf, but on behalf of every other doomed soul hustling for nickels and dimes without benefit of a Harvard diploma or a staff gig or an academic/think-tank sinecure. Because here’s the thing, Alexis: It ain’t like you didn’t have a choice.
“I asked myself whether I should have stayed at the hedge fund job that I took right out of college and hated so much I quit before the summer ended.”
Show of hands?
Yeah, it’s unanimous again, Alexis. We all wish you had stayed with that hedge fund job you took right out of college, because none of us ever got that kind of offer. We didn’t go to Harvard.
You quit a job that none of us ever got offered, Alexis, and now you’re over here telling Nate Thayer how to do his job — and do it for free?
What part of “fuck you” is so hard to understand?
Anyway, I don’t have time today to thoroughly fisk your article, so I’ll have to crowd-source it to what some guy called the Army of Davids. And like I said, it’s not that you got anything factually wrong.
It’s your punk attitude — your lack of respect — that is the problem.
Did you know Bill Quick at Daily Pundit named the blogosphere? Because I’m thinking he might have a thing or two to say about this.
Journalism is not rocket science. You didn’t invent the Internet, Alexis. And if Ace of Spades decides to rip you apart, hey, stuff happens.