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November 10, 2009 8:26 AM   Subscribe

When the Toronto Star announced that they were outsourcing in-house editing jobs, the union wasn't too happy. Neither was this disgruntled editor.
posted by Saxon Kane (81 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
He's outsourcing to the US.
posted by Decimask at 8:34 AM on November 10, 2009


That's a pretty good markup.
posted by brain_drain at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2009


The disgruntled editor's creative response is *brilliant*.

Considering editors an outsourceable commodity? You've gotta be kidding.

With management like this, The Toronto Star should fall and fail. Good riddance.
posted by cleancut at 8:36 AM on November 10, 2009


**head:deck**

Great markup, yeah.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on November 10, 2009


Then raise the scarlet standard pen high,
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying
pen editing here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:40 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


First they outsourced manufacturing and I did not speak out -- because I do not live in Detroit.
Then they came for the call centers and I did not speak out -- because those jobs are already shitty.
Then they came for IT and I did not speak out -- because I had no idea what they did.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to read my sharply worded editorial.
posted by geoff. at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2009 [41 favorites]


This is all pretty sad - these people are fist-fighting on the decks of the Titanic. Good papers, bad papers, all are being swept away by the Internet. I'll miss them but I haven't bought a paper newspaper in years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


one of these days people will finally realize that if communities aren't locally supported there won't be any communities worth living in
posted by pyramid termite at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Cliche. Find something fresher.
posted by rokusan at 8:59 AM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is all pretty sad - these people are fist-fighting on the decks of the Titanic.

Sad, hell! That sounds exciting!
posted by The Deej at 9:01 AM on November 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'll miss them but I haven't bought a paper newspaper in years.

True. Though I daresay you've enjoyed the work of newspaper journalists over those same years, being lifted, posted, re-posted, and re-re-posted across numerous blogs and aggregators. More than likely, most of those pieces were worked-over by an editor before being lifted and disseminated.

Personally, though, I can't wait for a future where the news reads like the assembly instructions written by Assembler #217 at the Glorious People's Coffee Table and BBQ Grille Factory 4.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Cliche. Find something fresher.

look, someone's outsourcing their comments, too
posted by pyramid termite at 9:02 AM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize until just now that I really miss proofreading marks. Any editing I do is in document files these days, and it's just not the same.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


one of these days people will finally realize that if communities aren't locally supported there won't be any communities worth living in

Community support has always been largely a byproduct of living in a community. We've made the community much, much larger through globalization. Now we're supporting community of editors overseas.

There's gonna be some suck-ass lag time in globalization. Like decades of it. We don't create new consumers as quickly as new producers. So Asia and Eastern Europe have opened up (paging all the celebration over the fall of the Iron Curtain?) and the result is that our global standard of living averages out. Their top producers get pulled into our system, and our bottom producers (based on the assessment of consultants, at least) get sucked into their poverty. This process is only going to continue for the next two generations: "average" Americans (and Canadians, etc) loosing their jobs because "exceptional" Chinese, Indians, etc. take those jobs over. So the "average" Americans end up just as S-O-L as the "average" workers in other countries were before globalization. Lesson? Don't be average.

Ideally the Chinese and Indian and etc. producers will begin consuming on a scale that can demand greater production from the USA. But never of TVs, tax returns, assembly-line automobiles, or generic "news" content.

If you want to see the future of America, look to France. Small, cottage industries that thrive because what they produce has a gravitas. You can make pastuerized, processed American cheese anywhere. But if you want a fine French brie, you have to get it from the source.

Everyone should read The World is Flat. If you have a college student, force him or her to do it upon pain of death. The world is changing and not going back.
posted by jefficator at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Toronto filter: Meh, I stopped reading the star in 2007, when I found 3 errors in the front section alone. Ignoring quality, their content was (in 2007) similarly horrible, I doubt it has changed. If they sink to the level of 24 / Metro they will not have gone far.

They supported of garbage incineration when "... the data submitted by the vendors themselves showed that this new technology was one of the dirtiest imaginable ways to produce power - far worse even than coal-fired power plants in terms of heavy-metal and greenhouse-gas emissions".

Royson James was complaining about every single thing Miller did.

As for this year, they seem to continue to have anti-cyclist articles, I can only guess how they covered Bryant.

The fact they give even one word of coverage to Smitherman after he oversaw / facilitated the the pocketing of a billion dollars is contemptible.

They have been using their paper to actively destroy the city, and for that they should fold.
posted by ecco at 9:08 AM on November 10, 2009


They keep publishing shit by Blatchford, so yeah, I stopped reading the Star as well.
posted by chunking express at 9:17 AM on November 10, 2009


the result is that our global standard of living averages out

What a nice story. Maybe you can explain why real wages in Mexico have been falling since NAFTA went through.

In globalization with no labor enforceable and environment standards, and no labor mobility, there isn't any "evening out." There's just a race to the bottom.
posted by enn at 9:18 AM on November 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


We've made the community much, much larger through globalization.

6 billion plus people in a "community" doesn't scale


Everyone should read The World is Flat.

you should read "the long emergency" - i feel that james howard kunstler may have an exaggerated view, but the fact remains - your "flat world" depends on cheap gas - without it, it's not going to work

without world wide peace on a permanent basis that global community isn't going to work, either - and there's no guarantee of that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everyone should read The World is Flat.

Sure. If you need a good laugh.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:22 AM on November 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


The world is changing and not going back.

True. Give it a couple of decades and ultra-cheap transportation, and all the business models predicated on it, including JIT manufacturing and supply, will be something we tell our grandchildren about.
posted by rodgerd at 9:22 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, though, I can't wait for a future where the news reads like the assembly instructions written by Assembler #217 at the Glorious People's Coffee Table and BBQ Grille Factory 4.

Have you read the Toronto Star recently? The news reads like this now. The columnists are not this bad yet, but the news stories are atrocious.
posted by FishBike at 9:29 AM on November 10, 2009


Oh, and I missed this bit:

Lesson? Don't be average.

Ah, the great free-trader Lake Wobegon scam — "globalization is great unless you're average, so all we have to do to avoid mass poverty and unemployment is create a society where everyone is above average!" I figure if we really put our backs into it we ought to be able to knock off by lunchtime.
posted by enn at 9:31 AM on November 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


If you want to see the future of America, look to France. Small, cottage industries that thrive because what they produce has a gravitas. You can make pastuerized, processed American cheese anywhere. But if you want a fine French brie, you have to get it from the source.

what
posted by fixedgear at 9:31 AM on November 10, 2009


Editing a memo as if it were a news article makes this gag fall flat.

+5 for righteous indignation though.
posted by butterstick at 9:38 AM on November 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


So the "average" Americans end up just as S-O-L as the "average" workers in other countries were before globalization. Lesson? Don't be average.

DiBergi: Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number, and make that a little louder?

Nigel: (after taking a moment to let this sink in): These go to 11.
posted by ob at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ah, the great free-trader Lake Wobegon scam — "globalization is great unless you're average, so all we have to do to avoid mass poverty and unemployment is create a society where everyone is above average!" I figure if we really put our backs into it we ought to be able to knock off by lunchtime.

You think I like it? I think it totally sucks. I'm average in so many ways I can't count them. But when I look around and figure out that my job prospects are sinking by the minute, I figure I had better find something I'm slightly-better-than-average at and kick and scream and fight for dear life.

If someone comes up with a viable means of fixing the problem then I'm all for it. I'll vote and march and call my congressman and do anything I'm supposed to do. But I don't think I do myself any favors by sticking my head in the sand and saying "I oppose globalization!" while my job gets outsourced.

What's your suggestion?
posted by jefficator at 9:44 AM on November 10, 2009


Lesson? Don't be average.

Well, you've certainly gotten off to a good start by being below average in compassion.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:49 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everyone should read The World is Flat. If you have a college student, force him or her to do it upon pain of death. The world is changing and not going back.
posted by jefficator at 9:07 AM on November 10


"This would be a small thing were it not for the overall pattern. Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we're not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we're not in Kansas anymore.) That's the whole plot right there. If the underlying message is all that interests you, read no further, because that's all there is.

It's impossible to divorce The World Is Flat from its rhetorical approach. It's not for nothing that Thomas Friedman is called "the most important columnist in America today." That it's Friedman's own colleague at the New York Times (Walter Russell Mead) calling him this, on the back of Friedman's own book, is immaterial. Friedman is an important American. He is the perfect symbol of our culture of emboldened stupidity. Like George Bush, he's in the reality-making business. In the new flat world, argument is no longer a two-way street for people like the president and the country's most important columnist. You no longer have to worry about actually convincing anyone; the process ends when you make the case.
Things are true because you say they are. The only thing that matters is how sure you sound when you say it. In politics, this allows America to invade a castrated Iraq in self-defense. In the intellectual world, Friedman is now probing the outer limits of this trick's potential, and it's absolutely perfect, a stroke of genius, that he's choosing to argue that the world is flat. The only thing that would have been better would be if he had chosen to argue that the moon was made of cheese.

And that's basically what he's doing here. The internet is speeding up business communications, and global labor markets are more fluid than ever. Therefore, the moon is made of cheese. That is the rhetorical gist of The World Is Flat. It's brilliant. Only an America-hater could fail to appreciate it."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:50 AM on November 10, 2009 [25 favorites]


you should read "the long emergency" - i feel that james howard kunstler may have an exaggerated view, but the fact remains - your "flat world" depends on cheap gas - without it, it's not going to work

without world wide peace on a permanent basis that global community isn't going to work, either - and there's no guarantee of that


I've read The Long Emergency. Its good, but frankly I find it too extremist. I think the central thesis that cheap oil is over is logical. I think the conclusion that the USA will split up because of it is illogical.

Globalization will not be ended by the decline in cheap oil. Certain aspects will be. The profitability of shipping strawberries nationwide from California will plummet, sure. The profitability of Walmart--which Kunstler calls "The warehouse on wheels"--will also plummet, yes. But there's still a significant amount of work that will remain cheaper to perform at the other end of a broadband connection. An editor based in Tripoli will be cheaper than an editor based in Toronto. Quality will suffer, but when your industry is about to close up shop?

The real hope for average Americans is that peak oil does result in jobs that the average person can survive on in the face of increasing global competition.
posted by jefficator at 9:53 AM on November 10, 2009


Editing a memo as if it were a news article makes this gag fall flat.

Precisely, butterstick. "Call me Ahab..." SLOWLEDE GET TO THE NEWS.

(Not that the memo could in any way be compared to Moby Dick, but...but...I agree with butterstick.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2009


It's interesting to note that this editor's best idea amounts to nothing more than "nyah-nyah-nyah-you-suck."

Clearly, this Toronto paper hired the best of the best, the most forward-thinking, media savvy editors it could find, the ones that could bring fresh, compelling ideas to the newsr...

Oh, what's that? It was all just a bunch of pedantic, calcified fools struggling to justify their flaccid existence while working for a segment of the media that's had a bullseye painted on its forehead since the mid-90s?

Oh, I see.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Globalization" will remain a meaningless buzzword until the day when people are afforded the same level of mobility given to capital investment.

Take a wild guess when that will be allowed.

Ever wonder why Republicans get to riled up about immigration? It's not just blind racism.
posted by aramaic at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


In honour of Cool Papa Bell's right-on comment:

Metafilter: a bunch of pedantic, calcified fools struggling to justify their flaccid existence
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:20 AM on November 10, 2009


Editing a memo as if it were a news article makes this gag fall flat.

Yeah, my first thought was, it doesn't matter if Human Resources is capitalized or not, because this memo is not required to follow AP(?) style. But then, I have no life that way.
posted by Melismata at 10:25 AM on November 10, 2009


The Toronto Star has decided that, in the face of unprecedented competition from (essentially free) internet news sources, and the impending death of their entire industry, their action plan is to continue doing exactly what they have always done, only cheaper.
This is a foolproof plan.
posted by rocket88 at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like it when Atrios refers to Thomas Friedman as "The Mustache of Understanding."
posted by diogenes at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2009


Ahab?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't be average.

This is excellent advice. I'm going to file it with "Don't be poor", "Don't be black" and "Don't be female", since those have served me quite well.
posted by rocket88 at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


These are the editors that allowed Rosie DiManno to defame a suicide victim, after The Star had incorrectly reported that the man was charged with sexually assaulting two boys, by printing things like:
David Dewees died an innocent man.

Maybe that's reason enough to take one's own life – there will never be a finding of guilt on the criminal charges brought against the apparently well-liked Jarvis Collegiate teacher.

But was it guilt of another kind, shame and self-loathing, that made the 32-year-old lie down on the tracks at High Park subway station Saturday morning rather than face trial?
Good riddance.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 10:48 AM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


But there's still a significant amount of work that will remain cheaper to perform at the other end of a broadband connection.

Lol, because of course the internet is the exception to any and all energy crises! These servers, including the very ones we're chatting over, they run on PURE 100% MAGIC!

"Globalization" will remain a meaningless buzzword until the day when people are afforded the same level of mobility given to capital investment.

This. Thank you. As someone yelled during the November 99 (shit, 10 years ago!) WTO protests in Seattle: "I don't oppose 'Free Trade' because it's too free, i oppose it cuz it ain't free enough!"
posted by symbollocks at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2009


Oh wait, Blatchford writes for the Globe. I was thinking of DiManno, who sucks in a similar way.
posted by chunking express at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2009


"Call me Ahab" would be a very different Moby Dick. I think I'd also enjoy the one that started that way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I did that editing kerjigger on a memo one time. I was working in a fancy supermarket when one of the supervisors was promoted to some kind of management position, and one of her first acts was a great big memo on the staffroom noticeboard. It was beyond bad writing and well into the sweeping lands of bad communication, so I edited the hell out of it and put "3/10, see me after class." When the manager's superior saw it, he laughed.

And that's the story of my youthful rebellion.

Also, Thomas Friedman sucks.
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2009


This is excellent advice. I'm going to file it with "Don't be poor", "Don't be black" and "Don't be female", since those have served me quite well.

"Don't be average" is shorthand for find something you excel at and hit it hard. The sort of thing we parents try to impress on our children every day.

This is snark-worthy advice why, exactly?
posted by IndigoJones at 11:07 AM on November 10, 2009


Because in the context of the original comment it was blaming the victims of globalization for something they often have little or no control over.
posted by rocket88 at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2009


This is snark-worthy advice why, exactly?

because not everyone excels at something - or anything - or can make money doing what they excel at , if anything
posted by pyramid termite at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2009


Don't be average? Overrated. If you want to survive in the future, live near a reliable source of fresh water.
posted by snofoam at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


We can't lose the Star- we'd be left with no Toronto papers that report national news.

And yes that is a dig at the G&M.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:15 AM on November 10, 2009


Ahab?

Dammit!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:18 AM on November 10, 2009


Because in the context of the original comment it was blaming the victims of globalization for something they often have little or no control over.

I apologize for not writing clearly enough to prevent this misinterpretation. If you read my follow-up comment you'll see that I have no intention of blaming anyone. I'm just drawing a lesson for myself from the present situation, and advising others to do the same.
posted by jefficator at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2009


Funny about Canadian newspapers... yesterday I was looking for Canadian newspaper archives going back to the 1980s and came up completely empty. It seems some of the Canadian newspapers (and I think Toronto Sun was one of them) have even scrapped their archives, with dead URLs going to where they used to be. Pretty sorry state of affairs when I have to go to Washington Post or New York Times to look for things that happened in Manitoba.
posted by crapmatic at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2009


"Don't be average" is shorthand for find something you excel at and hit it hard. The sort of thing we parents try to impress on our children every day.

I am really sorry to be snarky, but this sort of attitude drives me nuts. There's a big difference between "do your best and put in effort" and "don't be average". "Don't settle for less than you can accomplish" is great, but there's nothing wrong with having naturally average (or lower than average) ability as long as you work hard. It is statistically impossible for people not to be below average and I wish we'd all accept that average is okay as long as you are really trying and doing your best. It's this kind of mentality that leads to "exceeds expectations" being the only acceptable outcome on a performance review; it all becomes meaningless.

IndigoJones I know you mean well and this is really not directed at you, but I think a lot of harm is done through this sort of encouragement. This is why studies have shown that you should praise effort and not intelligence. Please, please don't think I'm attacking you as a parent because of course this is the type of encouragement you give your kids and that makes you a good parent and not a bad one, but the specifics of this particular example seem to me to do more harm than good.

Disclaimer: I am not a parent, but I have lots of experience with kids as a teacher, a camp counselor and a school administrator.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


we Dont kneed: 'editers`.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2009


This is all pretty sad - these people are fist-fighting on the decks of the Titanic.
Sad, hell! That sounds exciting!


Celine Dion is enough to make me want to start punching people in the face.
posted by rokusan at 11:46 AM on November 10, 2009


The Taranto Mapel Leefs are my favorite local squadron
by SPORTS EDITOR

“If you want to see the future of America, look to France.”

Imagine a brie dappled thinly mustachioed beret wearing man, world wearily smoking a black cigarette in a human face, forever.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just drawing a lesson for myself from the present situation, and advising others to do the same.

But it's the wrong lesson. It's the lesson people were drawing in the 80s when they saw jobs in basic steel going overseas and decided to go to journalism school because, hey, those jobs are safe, right? It doesn't matter how good you are — maybe when they go overseas they've got to hire two people or five to do what used to be your job, but at the prices they're paying, it's still cheaper. The idea that you can somehow exempt yourself from a worldwide trend toward lower-paid labor with fewer regulatory protections by dint of sheer hard work and skill is appealing and wrong.

What's your suggestion?

Strong and enforced labor standards in free trade agreements, the willingness to respond to anticompetitive practices like dumping, as Obama did with the recent tire tariff, and Schengen-style labor mobility on par with that accorded to capital. Also, if the unions in the US would like to maybe get their fucking shit together and cut the internecine dick-measuring contest in which they are currently embroiled and begin to work and coordinate with organized labor around the world in an other than pro forma fashion that would be great too.
posted by enn at 11:58 AM on November 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


But if you want a fine French brie, you have to get it from the source.

Everything you get, you have to get from the source. That's how sources work—things come from them. And of course if you want a French thing, you have to get it from (wait for it) France.
posted by kenko at 12:06 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


But it's the wrong lesson. It's the lesson people were drawing in the 80s when they saw jobs in basic steel going overseas and decided to go to journalism school because, hey, those jobs are safe, right?

People were doing that? People who would have become steel mill workers went into journalism in the '80s? Guess that one went right over my head at the time ...
posted by krinklyfig at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2009


Oh wait, Blatchford writes for the Globe. I was thinking of DiManno, who sucks in a similar way.

Totally understandable, since they not only suck in a similar way, they have spent a good deal of time together discussing their mutual suckitude.

Used to be you could tell them apart, if you squinted hard enough, because Blatchford was the one talking about the gritty nobility of whichever uniformed man was involved in the story at hand while DiManno was the one beating her chest so hard in empathy with the victim she sorta became one in her own mind. After 9/11, though, they blurred into a single indistinguishable pulpy lump of sanctimony.

A little more fuel to the bonfire of the vanities here: if you fired Blatchford and invested her salary in beefing up the Globe's news coverage, you could easily employ four solid beat reporters. I don't know what DiManno makes, but I bet it's comparable.

Eight full-time reporters . . . or DiBlatcho. Not a bad shorthand way to account for the glaring managerial errors that have led to the daily paper's increasing irrelevance.
posted by gompa at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


[removed the broken link in the post - OP if you want us to fix it please get in touch.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:27 PM on November 10, 2009


People who would have become steel mill workers went into journalism in the '80s? Guess that one went right over my head at the time ...

I guess so. "Knowledge workers?" Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich's "symbolic analysts?" Wasn't that pretty much the neoliberal party line in the 1990s? — it's OK that well-paying manufacturing jobs are going away because in the future there'll be all these new Information Age jobs and we'll be the white-collar elite of the globalized economy.
posted by enn at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2009


Editing a memo as if it were a news article makes this gag fall flat.

Oh I see. So you think the memo should not be as clear and to the point as it could be.
posted by ekroh at 12:51 PM on November 10, 2009


Oh I see. So you think the memo should not be as clear and to the point as it could be.

SENSE OF HUMOR FAIL
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just wrote a letter to Rosie DiManno, when she wrote that 'Olympics will miss the Queen's touch'. She wrote 'Alas, a wonderful opportunity missed to make the monarchy relevant for young Canadians.'

Fuck me, god damned colonialist brown nosing the royalty.

I wrote that the Star and her were a joke. She responded and called me toots. LOL

The Star's management, like DiManno, are a tad out of step with the times.
posted by alicesshoe at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2009


Editing a memo as if it were a news article makes this gag fall flat.
Editors edit everything. I've not seen a newsroom that doesn't have an office sign with a little bit of red pen correcting some error or other on it. The graffiti in the bog at my last place had proofing marks on it.
posted by bonaldi at 1:24 PM on November 10, 2009


Neither was this disgruntled editor.

Having been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade, I can honestly say I have never seen a gruntled editor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess so. "Knowledge workers?" Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich's "symbolic analysts?" Wasn't that pretty much the neoliberal party line in the 1990s? — it's OK that well-paying manufacturing jobs are going away because in the future there'll be all these new Information Age jobs and we'll be the white-collar elite of the globalized economy.

OK, but did that ever come about? I guess I'm just trying to picture blue collar laborers aspiring to a formal education in journalism because of Reich's economic philosophy, and I can't quite see it.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:13 PM on November 10, 2009


because not everyone excels at something - or anything - or can make money doing what they excel at , if anything

The implication seemed along the lines of why bother even trying, especially if you start out poor, black or female. Or that because some people are disadvantaged that others should not scramble. (The female bit is a tad ironic given the higher rates of women in college and with jobs just now, presumably because they work harder to be above average)

It's a simple point, and fairness or morality have nothing to do with it. Times are hard and destined to get harder- root, hog or die.

IndigoJones I know you mean well and this is really not directed at you, but I think a lot of harm is done through this sort of encouragement. This is why studies have shown that you should praise effort and not intelligence. Please, please don't think I'm attacking you as a parent because of course this is the type of encouragement you give your kids and that makes you a good parent and not a bad one, but the specifics of this particular example seem to me to do more harm than good.

Qualifications noted and appreciated. In fact it is effort Mrs Jones and I praise in our Spawn. Not grade mongers nor do we, uniquely among the parents we know, refer to the child as "gifted". She is average. Sweet natured, happy, healthy, and scholastically average, which is pretty damn good innings to my mind.

That said, character counts, and is something open to everyone, and something we are trying to instill in her every day. That said, I hope she finds her fulfillment in something that she can excel at, that can pay well and cannot be off-shored - for globalism is a cruel mistress indeed.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:09 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry for anyone losing a job right now, but c'mon. Editing is a skill but it's not like brain surgery (I mean, even I've been paid to do it). With enough training and practice and a decent background in writing it's a portable skill and yes, there's probably somebody out there who can do it better, cheaper, and faster than you.

This is really misguided rage about the death of the newspaper industry. A smart editor would have jumped to another industry five to ten years ago.
posted by bardic at 6:02 PM on November 10, 2009


aramaic: "Globalization" will remain a meaningless buzzword until the day when people are afforded the same level of mobility given to capital investment.

Take a wild guess when that will be allowed.


It is allowed, and has been for a while, at that. Just not in the US. In other areas, however, people are afforded free movement of within, for example, (most all of) the EU.

Granted, this is regionalisation, rather than globalisation.
posted by Dysk at 6:37 PM on November 10, 2009


Granted, this is regionalisation, rather than globalisation.

Precisely. There's a (very) significant difference.

For all the hoopla, Schengen is roughly akin to being amazed that I'm allowed to walk into Kentucky without being arrested. Oh, yay, I can go a couple hundred miles and cross a political boundary between two states that more or less agree with each other, even if we've slaughtered each other in the past. Wooo!

Let me know when they let someone from Malawi walk across the border into Germany and take a job; they can't even decide if Turkey should be let in.

Hey, yay for the EU and all, but they (and everyone else) have roughly a zillion miles to go before they're even close to giving people the mobility they deserve. I just dumped ten thousand bucks into a British company, and yet moving to any part of the UK will require the extended services of no less than three legal professionals, a minimum of eighteen months (apparently) and god only knows how much money (thankfully, I do not pay for these things myself). The less said about the experiences of my Indian compatriots, the better.

Money is mobile, people are not. Guess who that benefits?
posted by aramaic at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bleating like "editing is a skill but it's not like brain surgery" or "a bunch of pedantic, calcified fools struggling to justify their flaccid existence" reminds me that journalists don't have a lock on being hackneyed.

Copy editors (sub-editors in the UK), despite being routinely shat upon by more or less everyone, are vitally important to the news-gathering system we've got now. Newsgathering and newswriting are two different skills; not many people are geniuses at both. It's the rare crack reporter who's an ace writer. And, on tight deadlines, even aces need backup.

Copy editors do everything from fixing punctuation to disassembling a broken story and putting it back together in a form that's clear, clean, and interesting. (In many instances, they also write a lot of the headlines and display copy.)

Evidently, they're tightly enmeshed in the production process, bouncing back and forth between writers and big-picture editors. Trust, personal rapport, and ease of communication are important; writers can be defensive of their copy, even if they're not Giles Coren. This makes the prospect of outsourcing copy editors - even if it's just across the road - all the more daunting.

It's hard to illustrate the value of workers whose job it is, essentially, to make sure things don't suck. It is true that it's not brain surgery. Brain surgeons make lousy editors; a lot of people do.

I know that times are changing. (I heard a rumour, don't ask me where.) The ice is melting, the waters are rising, we know that. But this represents a huge chunk of ice shelf breaking off and falling into the ocean as the slow-motion cameras roll and Al Gore makes some passive-aggressive threat in voice-over.

However we structure the media in the future, I hope we still pay people to look after words. They'll never ever be paid well - our setup doesn't work that way, and nobody's under that illusion - but we'll need them all the same.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:13 PM on November 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


People were doing that? People who would have become steel mill workers went into journalism in the '80s?

It's hard to imagine now because now factory work has been a dead end for a long time now. We don't really associate it with big ambitions.

But back in the 50s and 60s in Detroit, say, if you were a smart, ambitious guy without much money, you got a job in a factory and then worked your way up — to a skilled manufacturing job, to some kind of union leadership position, to something in management — or saved up money to start a small business. It wasn't a sure thing, but for a lot of people it was the best, simplest route to a good solid middle-class life. (And on the other hand, going to college wouldn't necessarily have been a smart thing for those guys to do, financially speaking — the same way graduate school nowadays doesn't make financial sense for a lot of people. If you can get a good job without a degree, then why spend a lot of money and keep yourself out of the work force for N years? Just get to work!)

By the 80s, a fair number of those same sort of guys were taking out loans and going to college instead, because it was pretty much obvious that manufacturing wasn't going to give them the same leg up it had given previous generations. We're not talking about ambitionless schlubs miraculously getting all diligent here — were talking about people who were going to reach out for some kind of opportunity no matter what; they were just reaching out in a different direction now.

I was at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 2000s, and even then there were a lot of first-generation students from blue-collar families there — from Pittsburgh itself, or from smaller mill towns like Uniontown. These were kids whose fathers or more often grandfathers had been millworkers. By then print journalism didn't seem like such hot shit either, and they were majoring in things like pharmacy. But it's the same idea. A lot of them were really damn smart, and a few would have gone to college no matter what, family history of education or no. But I suspect a fair number would have stayed back in Uniontown or wherever if there was still money to be made there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:34 PM on November 10, 2009


"It is true that it's not brain surgery. Brain surgeons make lousy editors; a lot of people do."

Fair enough, but which occupation requires more training?

I'm not saying editing isn't a job (I've been happy to do it for pay before, and I'm likely to do it again for pay down the road). I'm just saying it's foolish to try and claim it's some sort of sacred calling.

I do think the move towards niche blog operations that focus on a set of issues is a game-changer. But these operations employ editors just like current media outlets, albeit people probably wear more than one hat and the wall between "writer" and "editor" is probably a lot more porous.

Does that mean their writing will automatically suck? Of course not.

They just don't tie their future wage prospects to these dying, ridiculous vehicles for print advertising called newspapers.
posted by bardic at 8:12 PM on November 10, 2009


Times are hard and destined to get harder- root, hog or die.

or raise fucking hell
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on November 10, 2009


Strong and enforced labor standards in free trade agreements, the willingness to respond to anticompetitive practices like dumping, as Obama did with the recent tire tariff, and Schengen-style labor mobility on par with that accorded to capital.

That'd be nice, but it will take a century and a half. For this generation and the next, I don't think it'll help at all. And even with better labor standards and so forth, the gap yawns far too wide, manufacturing wise.

And as for all the content generating industries....they're dead, mostly. Killed by free. Craigslist was the harbinger for more than classifieds; there are many, many aspects of information gathering, sorting and publishing which used to sustain entire industries of thousands of people who can now be replaced by about 50. Well, 50 staff and tens of thousands of individual unpaid contributors. Dead is maybe too much to say; what remains of paid content production will simply be effectively absorbed by corporations. The media is dying, but PR is alive and well. They have the money and they have the interest.
posted by Diablevert at 9:57 PM on November 10, 2009


Everyone should read The World is Flat. If you have a college student, force him or her to do it upon pain of death. The world is changing and not going back.

Wenn ich "Friedman" höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!
posted by atrazine at 12:22 AM on November 11, 2009


Whoops, hadn't realised that Thomas Friedman is Jewish. That makes the paraphrased line from a Nazi play a lot less funny.
posted by atrazine at 12:28 AM on November 11, 2009


Thomas Freidman is only one part Jewish, but he's ten parts douche.
posted by bardic at 2:46 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


To heck with the Thomas Friedman and the print-media-is-dead discussions; the markup comments on that memo was one of the most satisfying reads I've had in a long time.
posted by Spatch at 6:26 AM on November 11, 2009


Yesterday's edition contained a photo of Halifax band Dog Day (who are awesome, btw), captioned Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors come to the Opera House. Weird.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:33 AM on November 13, 2009


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