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March 21, 2013 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Stop Making Fun of Leaked Washington Post Blogger Job and Start Applying for It, Says Slate's Dan Kois
posted by Potomac Avenue (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is, potentially, a great job. Any aspiring, driven pop-culture writer would be a fool not to apply for it. I am not saying this because Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company, but because a job exactly like this is the reason I have a career.

In 2007, through a string of coincidences and lucky breaks too absurd to relate here, I heard that New York magazine was launching a culture blog. I applied for the job and, thank God, I got it, and that spring we launched Vulture. The lead editor left for another position within weeks of our launch, so I woke up early. I stayed up late. I spent every waking moment writing and editing posts. I lived a life, that is to say, exactly like that described in that WaPo job description. Oh, except for that I was responsible for 15 posts, not 12.
it's like being the hugest tool in the universe is a job requirement to work at Slate...
posted by ennui.bz at 2:23 PM on March 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am not saying this because Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company, but because a job exactly like this is the reason I have a career.

While I understand what the Slate writer is getting, I would also expect that he would, in hinsight, recognize that it's fucking hack writing on a hamster wheel.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I understand that the world of journalism is tough, as are many fields, but by writing that long days and high content creation requirements are just part of the field validate this idea. Just like companies who laud the intern experience as a way to get ahead and disregard the fact that it's a shitty way to live, even for a few months or years, they're lowering the level for everyone.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


While I understand what the Slate writer is getting [at]...

What was he getting at? In a different universe, before the market crashed, the writer through "a string of coincidences and lucky breaks too absurd to relate" managed to parlay a hack job into a career, therefore? It's not like he's even saying buck up, work hard and you'll make it... he's saying buck up and ignore the fact that everywhere businesses are sticking people in dead end "jobs," sacking them when they feel like it, because they can hire ten other desperate young people and even then, you have to be absurdly lucky...

tool.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:31 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Setup a script that posts the top links from reddit.com/r/funny and /r/pics, that fires 15x a day, Markov text generator that throws together words based on title. Wipe hands on pants.

Cortex you could crank that out in a month right?
posted by hellojed at 2:37 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Paging Zoë
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Things got a bit better six months later, when we hired a second writer. Then we both woke up early and stayed up late and spent every waking moment writing and editing posts. That is what you do when you really love writing about culture and you want to get paid for it!

2bloggers1portal
posted by R. Schlock at 2:59 PM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


God what a fucking grind.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:00 PM on March 21, 2013


hellojed: Setup a script that posts the top links from reddit.com/r/funny and /r/pics, that fires 15x a day, Markov text generator that throws together words based on title.

Uhhh... I think I did that once. Then the script gained sentience, escaped the lab, and ended up employed at Gawker.
posted by mhum at 3:03 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Setup a script that posts the top links from reddit.com/r/funny and /r/pics, that fires 15x a day, Markov text generator that throws together words based on title. Wipe hands on pants.

Buzzfeed already exists.
posted by Falconetti at 3:10 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then the script gained sentience, escaped the lab, and ended up employed at Gawker.

Was it called Adrian Chen or Hamilton Nolan?
posted by drezdn at 3:13 PM on March 21, 2013


Yeah, the job would be great for a writer. It's just part of a terrible trend in journalism and one that makes the world a worse place, rather than a better one.
posted by klangklangston at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2013


For example, a recent Monday may have seen posts on topics including: Justin Timberlake’s rumored second album of the year; the History Channel’s controversial depiction of Satan as someone who looks like President Obama; reactions to media coverage of the Steubenville rape trial verdict; the recovery of a long-lost Rembrandt self-portrait; the new Beyonce song; a follow-up to that day’s “The bucks start here” feature in the Style section; reflections on the season finale of “Girls”; and more.

They could just link to MetaFilter?
posted by oulipian at 3:20 PM on March 21, 2013


“This is not how you recruit for journalism jobs,” groused HuffPo Politics social media editor Ethan Klapper.

I guess the HuffPo would know how not to recruit for journalism jobs. . .

is that joke too old now?
posted by Think_Long at 3:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


is that joke too old now?

Not as long as Arianna Huffington is still bathing in the blood of newly graduated english majors.
posted by R. Schlock at 3:37 PM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


drezdn: Was it called Adrian Chen or Hamilton Nolan?

It's Neetzan Zimmerman. Seriously, check out his posts.
posted by mhum at 3:50 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


is that joke too old now?

It will be when they start paying writers.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:45 PM on March 21, 2013


Is it true the job is paid? If so, I'm already impressed that they aren't looking for an unpaid intern ("But we can offer school credit!").
posted by theuninvitedguest at 4:47 PM on March 21, 2013


Not sure if this has been posted to the blue yet: Why I left news.
posted by msbrauer at 5:26 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is, potentially, a great job. Any aspiring, driven pop-culture writer would be a fool not to apply for it. I am not saying this because Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company.
Hey guys!
Rowdy Roddy Piper's on the phone, he says put on the fucking glasses.
posted by fullerine at 5:59 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ann Althouse (my mom), who's been blogging every day for 9 years on top of her job as a professor, reacts:
Too hard or too easy? I'm linking because this job notice is being treated as if it's horrifyingly arduous, and, in my view, it's obviously what anyone offering to blog for WaPo ought to be able to do.

I write more than 12 posts a day on the average, by the way, and I'm just reacting to stuff that interests me and writing for the intrinsic pleasure of it.
posted by John Cohen at 6:57 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having blogged for pleasure and blogged for pay, blogging for pay is a lot more fraught.

That said, anyone who took journo classes in college should be able to file three 300 word stories per day. For the equivalent words, assume that each of the 12 blog posts is 25 words on average.
posted by klangklangston at 7:00 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have a client that has requested actual "quality" blog posts, so on a per-article basis I make about twice per article what I was paid by magazines and trade association journals about 10 years ago. Kind of nice to be following Mark Twain's maxim.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:09 PM on March 21, 2013


The right person for this job could make it a great blog. 12 posts a day may be unmanageable if you're writing eight long paragraphs of background context every time, but if you mix a few lengthier posts with a bunch of clever, fluffier short posts, it's totally reasonable. Everyone works long hours sometimes. (By the by, I've heard that writing freelance longform pieces can be kind of stressful too.)

The Flock dustup doesn't prove that no one can be expected to handle this kind of work, just that she couldn't. Some people actually enjoy aggregating (on metafilter I think we call it "posting") and do it well. Anyway, arguments about quality are just turf wars. "Aggregating" is something the other guy does.

Is this the downfall of journalism? Well, show me something that isn't the downfall of journalism and I'll show you someone working long hours, having to do a bunch of shit they'd rather not do, and making mistakes.

That said, there are some things I'd worry about when filling this position.

First, make some design changes. The Post's blog design is mostly unsuited to this type of content. Everything from the fonts to the flag says "hard news." The stream/index pages on some of the blogs, like style, have gotten a lot better, but there's still work to do. That's going to be hard to overcome for technical reasons, but you can do it WaPo. I believe in you.

Second, hire someone who has some common sense about attribution, knows how to work with images, knows how to wrangle a CMS (even a crazy one), and can see formatting errors. It's almost insulting advice, but there's a surprisingly bright line between people who get it and people who don't. So really, don't gamble on this. Mistakes are going to happen, but most of this should be on autopilot.

Third, hire someone who actually wants to do this job. It can be a stepping stone, but it can't be a token stepping stone. And if other people are expected to contribute, make sure they're people who want to do it too.

Does anyone else have some constructive suggestions?
posted by wam at 9:50 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a different universe, before the market crashed, the writer through "a string of coincidences and lucky breaks too absurd to relate" managed to parlay a hack job into a career, therefore?

The coincidences and lucky breaks got him that hack job. The fact that he worked hard and did better at the hack job than he needed to is what got him the career.
posted by empath at 11:38 PM on March 21, 2013


Six about cats, four about sandwiches, one gee-whiz misinterpretation of last week's breaking science story, and one LOLREPUBLICANS. Bam, done, cocktail hour.

Slate: call me.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:00 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


now is the winter of this content
posted by threeants at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2013


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