Regrets, Remainders, Deleted Scenes, and Bridge Burning: The Immolation of Press Clips
Well, here we are. The final Press Clips. COME ON, POOKIE! Let's burn this mothafucka down!
A LONG TIME AGO, in a media climate far, far away, Jessica Coen was once the lead writer of Gawker.com in what is still to this day my favorite iteration of a blog (other than this one) ever.
On her last day, she wrote about an encounter with a certain editor that she'd been holding fire on until she left. Well, I don't have a story about him. But I never did this at Gawker, and well, now, I'm doing it. I've got a few things I've got to get off my chest. I'm done writing about media for money. Finished. Forever. It's the best gig I've ever had, but god willing, I'll never do it again. With that in mind, we've got some unfinished business to close out, some unsolicited advice to administer, some apologies to make, some confessions to spill, some regrets to share, and some fire to cleanse ourselves with. Press Clips, Day 28, The "Dolce Post" Edition. Let's get the less exciting things out of the way first. If you're not interested in anything but me burning bridges, skip to that part right here. But you're an asshole.
I regret not writing more. For one thing, because Jen's had to hold up this blog on her back for me to write the things I've been able to write about. I owe her a trip to a Mexican border town. Or an anesthesiologist. But mostly, I regret not writing more things I worried about writing. For one thing, doing your job without hesitation will never cost you another job, especially if you do it well. I'm not entirely sure that's been the case with me, but it's certainly something I've found to be true. For another thing, there's no New York Media Conspiracy, but there is a New York Media Set, a few of whom generally go completely protected from criticism. This is either because they're friends with everyone, and -- because they do not have jobs to offer you and do not care about what is and isn't your job when it comes to writing about them -- will make it known when they do not like something you write about them to others, some of whom one may overlap with professionally and/or socially. Hamilton Nolan nailed it: this is The Favor Economy, and it's thriving all too well. That said, I don't regret writing this at all, but the person it was written about is generally as guilty of having disclosure issues as way too many people who work in New York, including myself. It didn't make it any less of a post to me, but I could've done my part to stay further away from many of these people socially. The shit you talk is only as good as what you can back. Also, I deeply regret this post, because it looked like I was questioning the integrity of a guy I respect. I wasn't, but I was lazy in the wording and didn't make the call first. Bloggers and reporters are like bourbons. Not all reporters are bloggers, but all bloggers can be reporters. All it takes is a phone call.
I also regret not writing more about people who went under-recognized for their efforts, because unlike me and many of the people I've written about, they were too busy doing their jobs to promote themselves. More great things happen in media than shitty things. Things like this, for example.
But that said...
I don't regret everything else.
The animus I've received from trying to do this job to the best of my very limited ability is incredible! So many people in New York feel as if they've earned a shield against being written or talked about, despite the veracity of an item, and feel as if they're the sole determinant of the newsworthiness of themselves (see: Bill Keller vs. People Who Report on the New York Times). It's the most headsplittingly shortsighted irony in media. More than anything, it's an entitlement complex, and a gross one at that. I regret holding my fire for fear of more animus. I should've been a bigger asshole, not for me, but because these people deserve to have their figurative tree limbs grabbed, shaken, and pissed on, ideally by a child who knows no better (see: me). The only reason anyone's ever paid any attention to the shit I've done here to begin with boils down to: while I've written about a group of people and for an audience no larger than 200, I am somehow the only one writing some of these things! If nobody gave a shit, nobody would've read them.
[The incorrect execution of this concept is Fishbowl DC, which is almost completely and unilaterally terrible. More on that in a moment. I'd link to it but feeding them pageviews seems borderline criminal.]
But seriously, please: from bloggers to aged reporters to the most indomitable of editors, you should know better. Don't ever tell anyone else what is and isn't newsworthy, you narcissistic quasi-divas. Let your readers decide. If you're right, nobody will give a shit. And if you're wrong, and people do care, as a reporter, you know it should probably be written about! Remember, the State Department thinks Wikileaks is bullshit. Scale that down a thousand times. You think the media story about you is bullshit? And I'm a hack for writing it? Come on, now.