Posted on | March 23, 2013 | 30 Comments
On Thursday, New Republic columnist Timothy Noah received an email from editor Frank Foer asking him to meet at 2:30 pm on Friday. During the meeting, Foer told Noah that he was out of a job.
When Noah got to the New Republic’s lobby, on the way out the door, he decided to tweet the news himself: “I just got fired from @tnr. Don’t have a clue why. Anybody got a job?”
“All I got was your column isn’t a good fit for the direction the magazine is going in,” Noah told The Huffington Post shortly after.
Hmmm. “Your column isn’t a good fit.” Let’s imagine what Franklin Foer would have said if he had really been honest with Noah:
Dude, you’re 54 years old. Fifty f–king four, an aging Boomer with a loyal readership of aging Boomers, and that’s not where the action is these days, unless we want our advertising base to be mainly AARP, reverse mortages and Super Beta Prostate. Which we don’t, for obvious reasons. . . .
For crying out loud, Marty sold us to a 29-year-old multimillionaire. Think about that, OK?
Do you think Chris gives a damn about your Hillman Award? And so what, you wrote a book? About income inequality – as if Mister Facebook Wonder Boy is losing sleep over that.
What? . . . Well, yeah, but “quality” is in the eye of the beholder, really. Nowadays, it’s all about the clicks, Tim.
I’ve seen the analytics and, quite frankly, you’re not pulling your weight. Page-views, Facebook “likes,” re-Tweets — pick a metric, doesn’t matter. BuzzFeed gets more hits on a cute kitty video than most of your stuff gets.
Chris wants more hip, sexy content. He uses that word a lot, “sexy.” There’s basically two kinds of writing for him: “sexy” and “sucks.” And I’m not saying your stuff sucks, Tim, but it’s not sexy. I mean, when did you ever have a column go viral on Reddit, huh? When did any college kid ever re-Tweet you with an “LOL”? . . .
Sure, sure. I know you can try harder, Tim, but your salary is just too high for what we get in return, traffic-wise. I’ve got kids e-mailing me stuff every day, begging me to publish their stuff for free. These kids are desperate – liberal arts degrees from good schools, tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, working part-time at Starbucks and just trying to catch a break.
Why should I keep paying you big bucks for un-sexy columns when these kids write pretty good for free? Besides, you’ve got less than 6,000 Twitter followers, Tim, and some of these kids have 10,000 or more, so they can really drive the hits. And you’ve got, what? Fourteen hundred Facebook friends? There are high school kids with twice that.
It’s a business, Tim. Not personal. Chris doesn’t want to be the bad cop, so it’s my job to cut you loose. And trust me, you won’t be the last. There’s way too much un-sexy around here.
That’s what Franklin Foer would have said, if he were honest. But guys like that don’t get paid to be honest, do they?