A Sellout's Samizdat
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fresh off a bruising loss in the Hobby Lobby birth control case last month, told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview that she believes the male Supreme Court justices who voted against her have a “blind spot” when it comes to women.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fresh off a bruising loss in the Hobby Lobby birth control case last month, told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview that she believes the male Supreme Court justices who voted against her have a “blind spot” when it comes to women.

Register Offers Buyouts | New Haven Independent    ⇢

Always take the first buyout offer. Subsequent buyouts (and there will be more) are never as generous as the first. Take it and get on with your life.

Too Late

My LinkedIn account started crackling a few weeks ago. I avoided looking at it (really, it’s the most boring social media out there) but I finally peeked yesterday.

Several journo friends are trying to link to me, looking for jobs or just now starting  to take the whole social media thing seriously. They didn’t even offer a greeting - just a canned request to connect. So I ignored them.

I feel bad. But not that bad.

The Boston Phoenix Does Not Rise Again ⇢

Check out Susan Orlean’s nice remembrance of the newly defunct Boston Phoenix. It was a good scrappy paper that managed to turn out unique, enterprising stories in a town already covered by the Brahmin bible Boston Globe and the beer-and-pretzels Boston Herald.

Props to the Times for Coverage of Hackers ⇢

The New York Times today detailed how Chinese hackers systematically and repeatedly have hacked into its computer systems following its reporting on corruption among some Chinese political leaders. 

Good on you, Times.

To be sure, reporters and news organizations love it whenever they’re the targets of retribution. Once when I got a subpoena to testify at a trial, my editor bought me a beer. A colleague who was almost jailed for refusing to reveal a source got a party when she was finally let off the hook.

The story says the Chinese hackers were looking for info about the Times’ sources on the corruption stories. The paper notes that reporters built the stories from public information sources, not from undisclosed sources. But I imagine the hackers got reporters’ notes and records of sources for all kinds of stories. What will happen to them, and what’s the Times’ obligation to protect those sources now?

Here's Why the Media Thinks Occupy Wall Street Is Lame ⇢

This Slate piece by Dahlia Lithwick is the biggest piece of bullshit I’ve read about Occupy Wall Street. Apparently, everyone, the movement is really cool and meaningful, and it’s the media who are lame and stupid.

Any reporter with the tiniest bit of experience and brain knows that the movement is a joke. Here’s why.

Any time there’s a protest of any kind, the same people show up. In my journalism career, I probably covered 150 protests and demonstrations and sit-ins and marches, from groups of 20 people standing on a street corner to thousands temporarily occupying a park or plaza. The messages varied from strikes and other labor demonstrations to protests against war, capital punishment, budget cuts, police brutality, animal cruelty, abortion, etc. Any seasoned journalist has done the same, if not many more.

Know what? The same damn people showed up at every protest. I’d see the labor activists, the red-diaper babies, the college students, the artist types, the trust fund kiddies who took up social justice to make up for the way their great-grandfather’s business raped the planet and abused the workers 100 years ago. 

At any protest, you’d always get a few committed people - people who were moved to demonstrate because they really believed in the cause. But most of the protesters were just people looking for something to do. They took up protesting the way some people take up religion or spectator sports or clubbing. They simply get high off the collective experience of being with a bunch of like-minded people, in public, acting in one mindless way.

I did a story about these professional protesters. I remember I interviewed one college student in requisite beard, flannel and jeans who bemoaned the fact that he was not a student in the 60s, when protests really meant something. How sad, I thought, that this kid - born on the cusp of a new millennium - was yearning for an idealized past.

Sure, there were lots of protests in the 60s. I imagine they were effective. But you know what most people did in the 60s? They went to work or school. They paid their bills. They brought up their kids. They lived lives just like people today. 

11 Journalism Jobs You May Hold in the Future ⇢


  1. Headline Optimizer. Headlines aren’t what they used to be, especially in the online world. Once you could be witty or silly or clever, depending on the story. And once you didn’t have to worry about keywords. Today, headlines are often the way people find and decide to click on a story. Good headlines are still an art, yet they are a completely different style. To brush up on your headline-writing, you could start by reading Poynter’s 10 questions to help you write better headlines.
  1. Social Media Reporter / Aggregator. Andy Carvin is well-known for his unique news role using Twitter to fact-check information. (See our interview with Carvin.)  Other media organizations are finding useful ways to make sense of social media noise. Storify is one tool being used by journalists.
  1. Story Scientist. This job is about investigating data to make digital content. New York Magazine talks about therole of a data scientist at Buzzfeed. Basically, he uses analytics to determine ways to make stories more shareable, when to share the stories and how.
  1. Data Detective. This one is also about data, something that is becoming increasingly important to journalism. Here is a video report produced during a Knight Journalism Fellowship that explores issues in this area.
Do any of you guys already have one of these jobs?

And Now, the Other Side of the Steve Jobs Story ⇢

Gawker has a good piece today about the not-so-nice side of Steve Jobs. Speak no ill of the dead, yes, but the dude was kind of a prick in some ways.

I personally have avoided media these last few days because I am so sick of the Jobs stories. Yes, he was a visionary. Yes, his company produces some useful, beautiful and powerful toys. I really don’t see how Apple’s changed anyone’s life, outside of people who actually use Apple technology for real work.

Yahoo and ABC News Alliance, So 1996? ⇢

Yahoo has joined forces with ABC news. Sounds a bit like the 1996 deal that formed MSNBC, and we all know how well that turned out.

What I really wonder about is how this bodes for The Associated Press, which struck a similar deal with Yahoo in 2005 (as I recall). Does this mean the AP deal is dead, or is the ABC deal supplementing it?

Sports Journalism Is So Easy, a Robot Could Do It ⇢

This story in Slate by Farhad Manjoo ought to help news outlets cover the World Series. A robotic journalist can write short stories about the outcomes of baseball games, using nothing more than some clever programming and fresh data. It’s chilling how the sample stories usually mimic flat, AP-style sportswriting.

When I was at the AP. we paid freelancers $15 to call in a brief story about college football and basketball games and minor-league baseball games. The freelancers were usually reporters for local or college papers. They’d dictate a few grafs of info, and the AP desk would type it up and send it out on the wire. Those stories read EXACTLY like the ones the robot journalist produced, down to the tired sportswriting verbs and the emphasis on individual achievement in what’s supposed to be a team sport.

I remember that once a freelancer who’d covered a minor-league baseball doubleheader got all pissed when I told him he’d just get $15 for the story, even though it covered two games. One story, one chit. That $15 meant a lot to the guy. It means nothing to a robot.

About A Sellout's Samizdat

My journalism career sucked, and that ship's headed for the deep anyway, so I sold out. My corporate job is a joke by comparison, but it's fun in many ways to be a drone to capitalism. Here's my story of what it's like to be a sellout - published in modern-day Soviet samizdat style. If my boss knew, I'd get sent to Siberia. And while I'm at it, why not poke fun at the dumb behavior of my former tribe?

Ask me anything How Did You Sell Out With Style?