Newspaper reporter tells readers not to email him...
January 2, 2007 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Newspaper reporter tells readers not to email him, because "I don't want to talk to you". Nice long rant by frustrated reporter. Sounds like MeFites should drop him a line.
posted by Argyle (132 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't want to talk to him either.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:53 AM on January 2, 2007


I agree with everything he says.

But how do I tell him?
posted by slixtream at 8:54 AM on January 2, 2007


OK, I wont email him. I also wont read his column or his slumping newspaper.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:54 AM on January 2, 2007


1. Wow, it really is true. The opinion page of a newspaper has no worth, as I can easily get clumsily argued rants for free.

2. The person needs to follow his own advice:

Part of the problem is that no etiquette has yet been established for the hyper-interactive world. And I, born before MySpace and e-mail, don't feel comfortable getting a letter and not answering it. And then, if I do, suddenly, we're pen pals, with all those pen pal responsibilities.

This means he answers every letter he gets. Jeez, I'd be cranky too.
posted by zabuni at 8:55 AM on January 2, 2007


At least SOMEone gets it. "What you are reading isn't a conversation starter. I'm reporting/giving my opinion on something... take it or leave it."
posted by wfc123 at 8:55 AM on January 2, 2007


I agree, also. But I'm kinda pissed off that he knows about Simone in Grenoble.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2007


Do you think Joel Stein and 60 Minutes already have a signed contract, ready to be enforced at the time of Andy Rooney's death?
posted by billysumday at 8:58 AM on January 2, 2007


We have a major daily, SvD, in Sweden that allows you the reader to comment (selected) articles. Although discussions tend to digress at times, I often find the comments more interesting than the news itself. News is becoming an ubiquitous commodity, real peoples' opinions and ideas are not. By sharing facts, anecdotes and opinions with others, new dimensions are added to "objective" articles.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:58 AM on January 2, 2007


How old media of him.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2007


WOW.

Just... WOW.

I mean, I'm flabergasted. What world does this guy live in? (well, clearly, one without email) He thinks he can just stand on the bully pulpit and preach with NOTHING coming back at him? That if he engages people or enrages them or whatever, they'll just sit back and swallow whatever it was they're thinking?

Welcome to the real world, pal.

Rather than getting mad at his readers - which is, historically, a really good way to tank your career - perhaps he should vent his spleen at his corporate lords in Chicago for insisting on budget cut after budget cut at his paper. (and who've now fired TWO Chief Editors in succession because of their refusal to cut more) Because if he's getting 4 or 5 hours worth of emails every day, it's MANAGEMENT'S fault for not helping him with that burden.

Not the public's fault for (gasp) wanting to write to him.

His anger is real, and probably justified, but it's directed at about the worst target possible.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:01 AM on January 2, 2007


I suppose it's only natural that the LA Times's fade into irrelevancy should coincide with its slide into bankruptcy.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:03 AM on January 2, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by psmealey at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007


Sorry, Joel. Your thoughts and opinions AREN'T worth more than everyone else's. Not to me, anyway.
posted by zerolives at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007


Actuallym I found that column pretty funny. But, then, I'm a hateful curmudgeon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


the la times really is an awful paper. and that front-cover font change just makes it unbearable to look at.
posted by phaedon at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007


Jinx. You owe me a coke.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2007


I agree with him so much that I don't care if he cares. In fact, only spoiled brats would disagree with him: he writes an opinion column, not a personal ad. (All I want Mefites putting in my inbox are offers to SEND MONEY.)
posted by davy at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2007


This is the second in a series, of course, the first one dealing with Do Not Write Me A Letter And Have It Sent Via The Post Office, You Sniveling Proles.
posted by zerolives at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Emails to reporters are an absolutely terrible idea. It contributes nothing of value to the newspaper or the world and it only encourages internet fuckwads. All Mr. Stein has to do is make sure his oh-so-witty columns have nice permalinks that don't change and the web will do the rest.
posted by nixerman at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2007


That guy is a well-known asshole who enjoys spewing his "contrarian" rants. No point taking any particular one seriously.
posted by languagehat at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2007


I recently checked out an LA Times multimedia (god that word sounds so archaic in 2007, doesn't it?) piece on the dying oceans (was that posted here already?) and it was excellent. No blogger with his beer money budget could have come close to it - well researched and frightening, it was.

But mister PUBLIC DISCOURSE IS NOT A TWO WAY STREET here can eat a bowl of dick. What does he have to offer me other than condescension? Insight? I think not. Humor? Well, no. If there's an archetypal victim of the information revolution, he is its avatar.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:09 AM on January 2, 2007


I think perhaps he needs a new job.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:11 AM on January 2, 2007


I agree with him.
posted by dobbs at 9:13 AM on January 2, 2007


I've stopped reading links and comments here.
posted by srboisvert at 9:13 AM on January 2, 2007


What AZ & davy said, even though I don't care what they say.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:14 AM on January 2, 2007


Hey, here's an idea. Let's treat this guy as representative of all that we hate about newspapers! Just for the one thread, you understand.
posted by dhartung at 9:14 AM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Asshole? It sounds like he's just being contrarian.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2007


Yeah, I second languagehat: Joel Stein sucks the Platonic Ideal of donkey balls. Fuck him and his paper.

Of course, by saying that, I'm only giving this dead tree troll what he wants: people talking about him and his oh! so! biting! wit and wisdom.

All the same: fuck Joel Stein and Los Angeles Times both.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2007


Actually, I think that he makes sense.

If you want to counter my opinion publicly, write a letter to the editor. If you want me fired, write a letter to the publisher.

He is not writing a personal opinion to you personally via email; he is doing it openly in a newspaper. All he asks is that you do the same. If you have something important enough to say about a columnist's column, then you can damned well say it publicly--just the way he did.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:16 AM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Christ, what a... oh, never mind
posted by Acey at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2007


OH GOD THE NERVE OF THIS OLD MEDIA BASTARD. REST ASSURED I WAS ON THE INTERNET WITHIN MINUTES, REGISTERING MY DISGUST AROUND THE WORLD.

Good for Mister Stein. The fact that a columnist is described in a headline as a reporter is an apt demonstration that the nu media is a piss poor source for quality journalism.
posted by keswick at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2007


I get that you have opinions you want to share. That's great. You're the Person of the Year.

It's like he really knows me.
posted by hermitosis at 9:18 AM on January 2, 2007


I, too, agree with him
posted by A189Nut at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2007


To be fair, I thought his whole War on Hannukah column from two weeks back was pretty amusing.

I'm with AstroZombie...the mild mannered Denis Leary routine doesn't stir the least bit of outrage for me. [shrug]
posted by edverb at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2007


leftcoastbob: You may be right, and he may be right, but he's doing it in the worst way possible, as InnocentBystander said.

Also, if you want to email him, his address is still at the bottom of all his other pieces.
posted by danb at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2007


Great column. Gets people reading, gets people angry, gets people convinced that the columnist really means what he's saying. Panties twisted all around.

Why do people get it into their heads that public discourse isn't really public discourse unless there's a "comments" field at the end? MeFi is for comments. Newspaper websites should be for comments, too. But newsprint isn't, and that's okay. We get talked at by a thousand different one-way public organs each day, from advertisers to tax returns to freaking BoingBoing, and we digest it. Why the uproar when somebody speaks the universal truth - applicable in old a new media alike - that really, he just doesn't care what you think?
posted by bicyclefish at 9:23 AM on January 2, 2007


"...some of the theses would have gotten all watered down..."

I hate him for that phrase alone. I don't care if it is (arguably) acceptable english. Just because he has a blackboard doesn't mean he has to screech his fingernails across it.
posted by peacay at 9:23 AM on January 2, 2007


And he's not a reporter, he's an opinion coulmnist. There's a difference. As on preview Keswick already said.
posted by davy at 9:28 AM on January 2, 2007


bicyclefish, you're missing the point, which is that he's missing the point. The man is 95% irrelevant, working at a dying newspaper in a dying medium, and he's incensed at the evidence that his last few readers are still paying attention to him. It's beyond clueless - like a cartoon character sitting in the middle of a hole he's busily sawing in the floor.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2007


[I meant C-O-L-U-M-N-I-S-T of course.]
posted by davy at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2007


That was funny. The many outraged, angry people on this thread make it even funnier.
posted by dydecker at 9:31 AM on January 2, 2007


Hilarious column, made much more hilarious by the earnest outrage here.

(I'd bet a very large amount of money Joel Stein isn't really "incensed at the evidence that his last few readers are still paying attention to him", or that he really "thinks he can just stand on the bully pulpit and preach with NOTHING coming back to him.")
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2007


Joel Stein is cute on all those VH1 "The Top Ten Things that Happened to Rich People With Shaved Coochies Last Week" shows, with his slightly lispy voice and little smirk.

Also, he used to have a wicked mullet. Have pity for the poor guy.
posted by thekilgore at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2007


I read the post and was already thinking "what an ass" as I clicked on the link. However when I read the byline my opinion changed immediately. C'mon it's Joel Stein. He's a humor columnist, not the 'frustrated reporter' the clueless poster makes him out to be. He's been on almost every VH-1 "I Love The..." This opinion piece may not be funny, but at least understand the context of who's writing it.
posted by FreezBoy at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2007


Ah, well if it was tongue in cheek, my apologies. He does a fabulous impersonation of inarticulate stupidity.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:38 AM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I actually completely agree with him on this point. Everyone in the world wants to feel as if their opinion is worthwhile, just like everyone thinks they can write a poem or tell a joke. I'm sure his inbox is a refugee camp full of personalities ranging from banal to totally nutty crackers. In my experience, most of the time people write these emails it is an exercise in self-validation or an expression of their nutsness.

There was a time when it may have seemed advantageous to make reporters and columnists seem accessible to everyday readers, but now that everyone and their senile grandmother has an email account, it is perhaps not in anyone's best interest to make the readers to feel like they can initiate a meaningful back-and-forth with any media personality just by writing to firstinitial.lastname@mediaoutlet.com.
posted by hermitosis at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2007


Heh heh, Joel's column is totally a troll, meant to get a reaction from y'all. Obviously he succeeded.

I liked the column. First for the obvious troll, but most importantly because he reminds us that there is still a difference between a professional columnist and the average person who may bang off comments on MeFi and elsewhere, have a blog, or just talk loudly in bars.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:40 AM on January 2, 2007


Does Philip Roth have to put his e-mail at the end of his book?

I know Phil Roth. Phil Roth is a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Phil Roth.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:41 AM on January 2, 2007


Newspaper reporter tells readers not to email him...

...let them read MetaFilter instead.
posted by cenoxo at 9:43 AM on January 2, 2007


Wow, when I posted the linkage I didn't expect outrage. It was supposed to be a funny first-day-back-in-the-office read.

For people to be so tweaked is a bit surprising to me.

You know there are a lot of good decaf coffees these days.
posted by Argyle at 9:47 AM on January 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


*slinks from thread, switches to decaf*
posted by fleetmouse at 9:50 AM on January 2, 2007


He's no Carl Monday, that's for sure. Hell, even ol' Carl has a blog...which is about as poorly written and ridiculous as most of his [catching masturbators in the public library] important news stories...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:55 AM on January 2, 2007


You guys are right!

I vastly prefer the total sincerity of the advice columnist (Dear Abby or Ann Landers--I could never tell them apart) who always used to say, "My readers are the best and kindest people in the world to help each other like this!" when someone would write in and ask people to send box tops to paralyzed veterans or suggest that rubbing Vicks VapoRub on your genitals twice a day cures crotch rot or whatever it is that people with too much time on their hands write to advice columnists. Do people actually believe that reading an advice column in the newspaper makes them part of an elite club or something??

Or the movie star/singer/whatever who announces, "I just love all of you! Omaha/Salt Lake City/Whereever fans are the best in the world!"

Get over yourself! No matter what they tell you, they don't care about what you (or I) have to say. At least Joel is honest about it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:58 AM on January 2, 2007


IF I WANTED YOUR OPINION ON COFFEE I'D HAVE oh wait
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:59 AM on January 2, 2007


Joel Stein is the poor man's Dave Berry. Except even less funny, if such a thing is possible.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:00 AM on January 2, 2007


he's a humor writer you dummies. i'm laughing my ass off at the people here who took that column seriously. you must have failed sarcasm and irony in grade school. joel stein and i have one thing in common, i don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut what my critics have to say about me, so there!
posted by bruce at 10:00 AM on January 2, 2007


Did everybody on MeFi make a New Year's resolution to be sarcasm tone-deaf this year or what?
posted by blucevalo at 10:09 AM on January 2, 2007


he's right about the "YOU are the person of the Year" trend being ridiculous.

However, if he had anything useful to say, he would go ahead and say it while ignoring his reader emails. He is an opinion columnist, not a "reporter." His job IS basically the old-media equivalent of any jerk on the internet- he gets to spout off on any tiny crap that annoys him and not be held to any journalistic standards.

This kind of reminds me of musicians getting outraged over "boy bands" or Paris Hilton or whatever. The ones who want to call attention to themselves throw big fits about how horrible this fake, manufactured music is.

The good ones just shut up and make good music.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:10 AM on January 2, 2007


Joel Stein is the poor man's Dave Berry. Except even less funny, if such a thing is possible.

Twenty years and two or three marriages ago, Dave Barry was very funny. Check out Dave Barry Talks Back or Bad Habits. He's aging poorly, but then so do a lot of people.

I like Joel Stein too, but I don't take him very seriously, and I wouldn't notice if he were stung to death by angry bees and never wrote another column.

Your favorite old media humorist sucks.
posted by Kwine at 10:11 AM on January 2, 2007


That was awesome. Very well said, well written. It made many fine points. I seem to have a small glimmer of hope for the future quality newspapers and their continued survival.

Wait, no, I don't. That was the hangover and lack of coffee.

Yeah, it's a pretty wicked hangover for it to be mistaken for hope. I do mostly agree with him but let me reread that post-coffee and we'll see how it goes.
posted by loquacious at 10:17 AM on January 2, 2007


I tell you else he's not. James Thurber. There was someone who made cutting down trees worthwhile.

And what's with all the excess coffee drinking? Where I am it's generally the season for excess alcohol and so on.
posted by imperium at 10:22 AM on January 2, 2007


Has anyone else noticed an upsurge of OMG LOLZ YOU MORANS DONT GET IT HES A TROLL comments on MeFi lately? Disconcerting.

At any rate, as far as the lack of irony/sarcasm detection around here goes, the reason why some columns and blog rants can be so confusing for a lot of people is that sarcasm largely depends on tone of voice and context for it to be an effective form a communication. Absent those things, it's a very poor and lazy device.

And by the way, the piece isn't sarcastic. It seems that the writer is sincere about what he wants, even though trying to express his feelings in a somewhat backhanded self-deprecating kind of why.
posted by psmealey at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2007


Yeah what Blucevalo said. Is everyone still crakny and hungover from New Years Eve or what? I mean I feel like shit and I was ready to read the op-ed of a pompous blowhard, which he might very well be, and go to town with my laser beam like-snark scalpel, but fer CHRISSAKES PEOPLE LIGHTEN UP, ALREADY. Thanks.


*Pops an Alleve*
posted by Skygazer at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2007


I'm not seeing outrage here. All those people outraged by the outrage are clearly misinterpreting everything, all the time, and I'm outraged that they continue oh nevermind.

Joel Stein's writing always reads, to me, like he's truly upset about something, is trying to be funny about it, but doesn't pull it off.
posted by smashingstars at 10:27 AM on January 2, 2007


MetaFilter: a fabulous impersonation of inarticulate stupidity
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:29 AM on January 2, 2007


I want to be a columnist.
posted by petersn1 at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2007


His real problem -- although he seems not to realize it -- isn't that people can send him email; it's that he feels compelled to read and respond to each one.

And I, born before MySpace and e-mail, don't feel comfortable getting a letter and not answering it.

Get comfortable, dude, and everything will be all right.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2007


what congressional district did he represent again?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2007


If I was a newspaper columnist, I wouldn't want to read all the dumb email either.

Do not respond to this comment, I don't care what you think.
posted by jefbla at 10:32 AM on January 2, 2007


And he's not a reporter, he's an opinion coulmnist.

More specifically, he's a humor columnist.

I was in Joel's class in college (I think), and his weekly student newspaper column eventually elicited as much love/hate. It seems like he used to be a lot funnier, but I'm always glad to see him succeed.

This column is less funny than he usually is, but again, he's the one writing it first.

You, sir, are no Phil Roth.

Now there's a real asshole.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:44 AM on January 2, 2007


jefbla, I'd say check your email but you don't have one listed. Trust me and put on your best imagining cap and attempt to imagine how utterly awesome it would have been.

I have, however, decided to nuke Austin from orbit, since it's the only way to be sure.

Don't bother listing an email now, it's already too late. You have no chance; Make your time.
posted by loquacious at 11:00 AM on January 2, 2007


I like dealing with high tech editors and journos who refuse to accept email or even faxes. They want press releases and company info sent by regular mail.

He comes off as less funny and more bitter than anything else in that column. Not that I don't sympathize with his plight, media folks get utterly pummeled with email and phone calls from PR flacks, fans and other freaks.

But a journo who doesn't care about what his readers think risks becoming dangerously out of touch with the reality that signs his paycheck.
posted by fenriq at 11:09 AM on January 2, 2007


Part of the problem is that no etiquette has yet been established for the hyper-interactive world. And I, born before MySpace and e-mail, don't feel comfortable getting a letter and not answering it. And then, if I do, suddenly, we're pen pals, with all those pen pal responsibilities
posted by cytherea at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2007


I mostly agree with him.
posted by furtive at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2007


Garden variety idiot.
I get that you have opinions you want to share. That's great. You're the Person of the Year. I just don't have any interest in them. First of all, I did a tiny bit of research for my column, so I'm already familiar with your brilliant argument. Second, I've already written my column, so I can't even steal your ideas and get paid for them.
Garden variety arrogant idiot.
I want a pen pal named Simone who lives in Grenoble and is trying to learn English while I learn French, and teases me with vague promises to come visit over summer break even though she never does.
Garden variety arrogant idiot with issues.
posted by verb at 11:20 AM on January 2, 2007


On a tangent, I posted this same story at Digg and a guy there accused me of plagarism because I "totally stole that description from metafiler." [sic].

Maybe we netizens do need fact checking before posting... ;)
posted by Argyle at 11:20 AM on January 2, 2007


This is not about you, snowflakes, it's about the industry and his net-scared editors. The newspaper industry is going through changes/a death, and a lot of clueless people are reacting by doing very stupid things.

E-mail addresses on the end of copy is one of them, they're a stupid fucking thing to do -- they offer no value, and they don't start a "conversation", except at an exclusionary, time-expensive, one-to-one level. The letters page is the medium for comments in a newspaper, so use it.

For everyone still not getting it imagine this MetaTalk thread:

HEY everyone. I'm glad you liked my FPP on cats. However, I'd appreciate it if you put the comments in the thread, and stopped emailing me at the address in my profile.
posted by bonaldi at 11:30 AM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread is hilarious.
posted by mrbula at 11:32 AM on January 2, 2007


It's not a newspaper column, it's Rorschach test for Asperger's.
posted by dydecker at 11:39 AM on January 2, 2007


Stein's problem isn't that readers are inappropriately sending him e-mail instead of sending letters to the editor. It's that they have the audacity to think that their ideas are as important as his. And, even more to the point, it's that most of us can think of ten to 100 plebeian bloggers with no big media connections who are funnier and more insightful than Stein, and their writing is now just as accessible to the general public as his is. It's not fair!
posted by transona5 at 11:39 AM on January 2, 2007


I actually think having comments or message boards attached to opinion articles is a great idea (though slate and salon have somehow managed to do it exactly wrong).

But then, I'm the type of guy who still owns a VCR and is incensed that the New York Times is going to a five-column format because I won't be able to fold it in half on the train anymore.
posted by thecaddy at 11:46 AM on January 2, 2007


Stein's problem isn't that readers are inappropriately sending him e-mail instead of sending letters to the editor. It's that they have the audacity to think that their ideas are as important as his.

No, that's the strawman that's confusing everyone here. He even said it: write to the letters page!

their writing is now just as accessible to the general public as his is. It's not fair!
That's another strawman, and I keep hearing a version of it whenever editors and editing are defended. "We don't need gatekeepers anymore! Anyone can publish!" Yes, but we do need editors and editing, because they turn Yahoo answers into AskMe.
posted by bonaldi at 11:47 AM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


If this were just about how readers should direct their very important thoughts to the letters page because, as wonderful as they are, he doesn't have time to read all of them, he wouldn't have much of a column. This is about how readers have nothing worthwhile to say.

Editors and editing are great for producing a certain kind of media. People are voting with their feet and saying that they find other kinds valuable as well.
posted by transona5 at 11:54 AM on January 2, 2007


Dear Mr. Stein:

Thank you for taking the time to write your column of January 2, in which you express precisely how little you value my opinion. I am grateful for your consideration, as I find most columnists overly preoccupied with news and world events, and it is rare that a member of your profession addresses me directly to inform me of the worthlessness of my own ideas. Please allow me to return the favor, and state that I, in turn, have absolutely no interest in anything that you have to say. It pleases me greatly that you and I have reached this meeting of the minds. Thank you again.

Sincerely yours,
Faint of Butt

(And yes, I actually sent that. It pleased me to do so.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:59 AM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, it's about how the internet is changing how we interact with media, but the newspaper-owners aren't getting it so they're trying to get readers to interact in ways that benefit nobody. If a reader wants a dialogue, there's a way to do that best, and it's not by email.

Writers have never given a fuck about the reader's views. He wouldn't have written that column either.

People are voting with their feet and saying that they find other kinds valuable as well.
Yes, but it turns out that of the places they're going, all the good ones have editors. Or perhaps you'd like to try having a discussion on the MySpace forums or, heheh, Digg?
posted by bonaldi at 12:00 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope the irony in this article was intentional, because it's lovely.

He does have a point: too many people use the author contact address to flame the author, drowning out anything useful. The "comments" section linked to the bottom of articles is probably the best solution.

Thanks for the post.
posted by zennie at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2007


But he's not really criticizing the higher-ups at his company who don't understand the Internet. He's criticizing readers who somehow have the idea that they're as smart as he is.

Yes, but it turns out that of the places they're going, all the good ones have editors.

Blogs don't have editors, except for the few mainstream-media-affiliated ones. But even edited new media provide a completely different experience than traditional print journalism, and it's because of the opennness to new perspectives and new writers. In contrast with an industry where it's nearly impossible to get your foot in the door if you're not extremely well-connected or financially able to take unpaid college internships, it can't help but look fresh and exciting.
posted by transona5 at 12:08 PM on January 2, 2007


i'm laughing my ass off at the people here who took that column seriously.

Yeah, it's funny because it's true.

I'm sure you've all got worthwhile opinions and all, and I'm happy to read them on Metafilter, where I can respond if I want to, or not respond if I don't -- but email stopped being fun and started to be a black hole for my time around 1998. And I pretty well stopped reading it regularly about three years ago. Now, I just use it to have people send me documents, but they've gotta call me to let me know they're coming or I won't see them.

You've got something I really need to know? Call me on the phone. If you can't be bothered, then it obviously isn't that important.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:14 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the link: Here's what my Internet-fearing editors have failed to understand:. Got one that says "you're not as smart as me?"

Blogs don't have editors
Nor do they challenge newspapers, really. Blog-aggregate sites like this one, or boingboing or that do, and they do have editors.
posted by bonaldi at 12:14 PM on January 2, 2007


Nor do they challenge newspapers, really.

No, certainly not on original reporting. But opinion columnists like Stein are the closest thing newspapers have to bloggers, and it really does seem like they've been experiencing a loss of influence in the last few years.
posted by transona5 at 12:20 PM on January 2, 2007


Yes, you're spot on there. But the answer to that problem is not by getting people to email columnists privately, as I think is Stein's point. He has even asked for a blog-style comments panel on his articles, which is a better way of going about it.
posted by bonaldi at 12:28 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


s'OK, pal. I'm not really interested in reading what YOU write, either.
posted by tyllwin at 12:29 PM on January 2, 2007


Meh. You apologists can keep on apologizing for this unfunny asshole all day.

You don't go dissing on your readership and expect them to lap it up.
posted by MythMaker at 12:32 PM on January 2, 2007


*laps*
posted by Kwine at 12:35 PM on January 2, 2007


Joel, buddy, next time don't hate timid. Just come out like,

Dear Readers,

Lick my fucking nutsack.

Love,

Joel Stein

Save the rest of the page for a magnified Xerox shot of your bag pressed against the copier's glass. Have your editor draw an extended middle finger on it with a Sharpie first.

Sometimes words don't punch like big ball pictures do.
posted by The Straightener at 12:58 PM on January 2, 2007


Metafilter: I'm an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:22 PM on January 2, 2007


I get the feeling there might really be a Simone in Grenoble, although she's probably a Nigerian in Ibadan playing him for money.

Hey asshole -- that's why newspapers are going the way of the Telegram. Don't let the printing press hit you as you both try to squeeze into the trash can of history.
posted by spitbull at 1:23 PM on January 2, 2007


Nor do they challenge newspapers, really.

I read that as "college newspapers" and found myself ferociously nodding in agreement.
posted by thecaddy at 1:34 PM on January 2, 2007


You, sir, are no Phil Roth.

Now there's a real asshole.

If Roth's unconscious or semi-conscious fears are expressed in his fiction, that would in actuality seem to be his ultimate worst nightmare. Well, maybe second-worst.
posted by blucevalo at 2:06 PM on January 2, 2007


Great piece. Why should he have to pretend like he cares? Put in his position, would you?

I don't know any of this guy's other work, but if I were one of his readers, I'd want him to be spending his time doing research and reading the opinions of experts and people who know what they're talking about rather that replying to the dozens of hastily written emails he gets from randomers every day.

Stein identifies a conflict of interest between his readers and his emailers and choses to side with his readers. Good for him.
posted by washburn at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2007


Reminds me of an old boss that refused to read my emails, saying I should come talk to him every time I had an issue. A ridiculous demand IMO, when everyone else I work with uses email to communicate effectively.
posted by Big_B at 2:25 PM on January 2, 2007


I were one of his readers, I'd want him to be spending his time doing research and reading the opinions of experts and people who know what they're talking about rather that replying to the dozens of hastily written emails he gets from randomers every day.

You have no idea who Joel Stein is, do you?

This thread is hilarious.

It sure is. You'd think the experience of reading MetaFilter day in and day out would immunize people against taking this kind of thing seriously, but no, they froth on command.

*cracks whip*

Froth, all of you! Put more spittle into it!
posted by languagehat at 2:35 PM on January 2, 2007


Quite. You get some really inane stuff on here which is praised uncritically, and then this (which is pretty funny) half the rabble hate or worse, fail to understand. Sad really.
posted by rhymer at 2:40 PM on January 2, 2007


This guy is in a real need of talking to someone, i'm not in the mood to help him

so i'll pass
posted by zouhair at 2:40 PM on January 2, 2007


You have no idea who Joel Stein is, do you?

Umm...no...
posted by washburn at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2007


I find it lame and insincere when newspapers give the reader the writers' email addresses. I just assume they are fake accounts that might be picked through on sick days.
posted by Pacheco at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2007


Actually, I've had some interesting exchanges with columnists. Try using one of those addresses sometime, if you have something to say more interesting than "You suck!" (which I presume makes up a large percentage of columnists' inboxes).
posted by languagehat at 3:40 PM on January 2, 2007


I didn't read the column...so I s’pose we’re even.

No, wait, I put less time and effort in to say this - I win.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:48 PM on January 2, 2007


So . . . who is Joel Stein, and why should we care?
posted by spitbull at 4:03 PM on January 2, 2007


Uh ... Joel Stein is a humorist who also writes a regular humor column that runs in the TIME magazine's Notebook section. His writings in the L.A. Times follow suit.

His L.A. Times bio:
"Joel Stein is desperate for attention. He grew up in Edison, N.J., went to Stanford and then worked for Martha Stewart for a year. After two years of fact-checking at various publications, he got hired as a sports editor at Time Out New York. Two years later he lucked into a job as a staff writer for Time magazine, where over seven and a half years he wrote a dozen cover stories on subjects such as Michael Jordan, Las Vegas, the Internet bubble and — it being Time and he being a warm body in the office — low-carb diets.

Being desperate for attention, he has appeared on any TV show that asks him: VH1's "I Love the Decade You Tell Me I Love," HBO's "Phoning It In," Comedy Central's "Reel Comedy" and E! Entertainment's "101 Hottest Hot Hotties' Hotness."

After teaching a class in humor writing at Princeton, he moved to L.A. at the beginning of 2005 to write a column for the Los Angeles Times. He still contributes to Time and whatever magazines allow him to. But his heart belongs to you, L.A. Times reader. Only to you."
posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on January 2, 2007


Humor, eh?

*scratches chin*

I tried some of those columns at random and I have to admit I laughed at this bit where he decribes some New Yorker cartoons that sound genuinely funny.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:20 PM on January 2, 2007


the poster fails to distinguish between columnist and reporter, which he erroneously calls Joel Stein not once, but twice. the poster and people like him are why Joel is pissed.
posted by quonsar at 5:55 PM on January 2, 2007


Meh... this article is fairly similar to a hypothetical essay written by a schoolchild who, having failed to do an essay on a given subject, writes a rambling one about writing an essay.

D-. Try harder next time.
posted by clevershark at 6:06 PM on January 2, 2007


Metafilter: it's a Rorschach test for Asperger's.


Is this the part where I go 'Fuck (person/idea/company/object)!', now? 'cause I'm totally up for that!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:35 PM on January 2, 2007


Damn, what a dios.
posted by Balisong at 6:41 PM on January 2, 2007


This must be false. This could be the most devastating news in my entire adult life.

After spending $1 million and over eight months, finding the 10 most credible old technocrats available, retaining another 44 people for 4 separate committees, suffering the danger and expense of a 4 day trip to Iraq, consulting with 136 people prior to preparing the report, another 170 as the report was prepared, to be told that the President is not going to pay any attention to my Iraq Study Group Report?

What makes you an expert anyway, Joel? He'll listen, I know he will...
posted by joedharma at 7:22 PM on January 2, 2007


Metafilter: This Place Is Going To The Dogs, Why When I Was Your Age, They Don't Make Them Like They Used To, &c.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2007


Is InfidelZombie one of Astro zombie's sockpuppets?
posted by Balisong at 8:25 PM on January 2, 2007


I totally LOLed.

Joel Stein: I have a "Joel Stein" RSS feed that goes straight into my arteries.

Brilliant.
posted by loiseau at 8:26 PM on January 2, 2007


I skipped most of the replies, because, honestly I don't care what anyone else said. Like Stein, I only write to see my own words in print.

Stein's column is one of a standard riff by writers--that of having nothing to say or write about, but still having a deadline, so write a column that mock offends the readers in order to generate heat at least if no light can be generated.

I thought perhaps he was a humor writer or at least one who fancies himself a wit. He's no Trillin, for sure. Hell, he's not even no Gladwell either.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:53 PM on January 2, 2007


I'm surprised to see so many comments in this thread calling Joel Stein an asshole. Even if you don't find Joel humorous, surely you at least realized it was an attempt at humor.

It's as if someone forwarded you an Onion article Bush Creates Cabinet-Level Position To Coordinate Scandals and you immediately fired off an angry letter to your congressman.
posted by king walnut at 9:19 PM on January 2, 2007


So, is this a Call-To-Action against Joel Stein, or my congressman against an Onion article?
posted by Balisong at 9:46 PM on January 2, 2007


Can we gift him a Metafilter account?
posted by filmgeek at 9:51 PM on January 2, 2007


I just spent five minutes discovering that reading Joel Stein is still a waste of time. That's an excellent use of my time, so thanks for the link, Argyle!
posted by diddlegnome at 10:07 PM on January 2, 2007


Balisong: No, I'm a real person.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:39 PM on January 2, 2007


I don't understand why his RSS feed goes into his arteries. Arteries can't read! Is he saying that RSS feeds help lower your cholesterol? Or do they raise it and he's trying to die of cardiac arrest?

Either way, can we harness this for science and cure heart disease with thoughtful blogging?

My RSS feeds go directly to my spleen, where they are promptly filtered out.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:50 PM on January 2, 2007


I reckon he's got a bet on with some other columnist to see who can get the most email in a week.
posted by pompomtom at 5:31 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised to see so many comments in this thread calling Joel Stein an asshole. Even if you don't find Joel humorous, surely you at least realized it was an attempt at humor.

Surely you realize one can be an asshole and a humorist, both at the same time?
posted by languagehat at 5:38 AM on January 3, 2007


What fresh heck is this?
posted by Haruspex at 6:18 AM on January 3, 2007


Can a man be a humorist in name only? I'm not aware of any guilds or vocational schools that confer the title. Perhaps it was in his RSS feed.

(Yes, I'm still angry at him for getting my goat. JOEL STEIN PLEASE RETURN MY GOAT AT ONCE kthxbye)
posted by fleetmouse at 7:39 AM on January 3, 2007


I unsubscribed to the L.A. Times in 1995 after a brief 3 week trial; the paper's complete disregard for its readers ("I want to talk at you") was already painfully evident.

I'm so glad that technology provides alternate reading matter for those of us who don't want to be talked at. In fact, that technology may well put smart-asses like Joel Stein right out of business, and the sooner the better, as far as I can tell.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:50 PM on January 4, 2007


« Older Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow has been linked t...  |  Open Secrets... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments