Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

Journalism Is So Exhausting Right Now

Sigh: 

Fundamentally, transparency elements are designed to tell your audience what you want them to know about you — your processes, your people, your motivation, your ethics and your values.

Sometimes with those elements, we’re answering questions we’ve seen our users wonder about publicly (in a comment, in an email, etc.): How do I know you were fair in this story? Why did you use this survey data rather than this other one?

Sometimes, though, we’re adding information that users might not even know they need but will actually appreciate. We might want to tell them, for example, that a group of editors debated which word or photo to use for 15 minutes. Or that we left out a source because we were worried about repercussions if they went public with their story. (Your users aren’t assuming that level of thoughtfulness or concern.)

Look, there’s nothing wrong with this exactly. It’s … nice. Harmless. I suppose it’s helpful, if you think most attacks on journalists are genuinely motivated by good-faith misunderstanding of what journalism is and how it gets done. Then these measured, sober addresses of common complaints make all kinds of sense.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. Explain who you are, why you’re doing what you’re doing, how many minutes you debated using a particular photo (Christ). It doesn’t hurt anything. It sounds really nice.

It just doesn’t have anything to do with any of the problems you have.

Look. Journalism doesn’t have a credibility crisis, at least not in the way this solution presumes. Journalism doesn’t have a crisis of good-faith actors who just Misunderstand what journalism is All About. Journalism doesn’t have a transparency crisis. Here are the current crises in journalism:

The financial one, where three decades of hedge fund ownership thinking in quarters instead of centuries squeezed all profitability out of local print news while humping the digital paradigm into the ground and refusing to spend on any of the things that kept the actual news afloat. Things like delivery drivers and advertising the fucking paper and oh, yeah, the journalists.

The political one, where a major party’s wealthy allies saw an opening to create a network and then a conglomerate of media screaming to Baby Boomers that Democrats, black people, women and gays were the devil and needed to be prevented from scrounging all the good welfare, and any news that told them different was biased because WE REPORT YOU DECIDE UNLIKE THOSE OTHER BASTARDS.

Journalists, of course, called anybody who said this was shady as shit hysterical and invited a literal Fox into their henhouse. They spent two decades interviewing and hiring people who hated them to tell their audiences that journalism was Inherently Liberal and Bad. They didn’t just tolerate these people. They put them on their op-ed pages.

At the same time, old people who didn’t know how to use the internet got their brains sucked out by Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg wanted to sell shit to the parents of the college kids he signed up for his girl-fuckability index. In between sharing videos of their grandkids and the cakes they bake, an entire generation is now reposting viral resentment porn about someone who overheard someone else who spoke in Spanish at the grocery store while buying expensive soda.

This all culminated in the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump, who got up and screamed at journalists at his rallies and encourages the commission of violence toward anyone he doesn’t agree with and taught his people the words FAKE NEWS and how yelling that completely owns anyone no matter how great their arguments are.

It’s a fucking tsunami of bad faith, racism, rage and stupidity, literally none of it motivated by the kind of innocent confusion that things like “transparency tools” and “fact checking” and “truth-o-meters” and “cartoon character scales of Pinocchio-pants-on-fire that insult the intelligence of a five-year-old” can address.

We are not where we are because journalists just haven’t been transparent enough. Jesus Christ, nobody will flagellate themselves in front of the public like journalists will, and all of it so useless and embarrassing. HERE IS A 45 HOUR SEMINAR ON WHAT WE DO AND HOW WE DO IT. Everyone attending is already convinced of the importance of your very important important-ness. Everyone you think needs to hear it is over at the bar watching Glenn Beck interviewing Alex Jones about jet fuel and steel beams while Maria Bartiromo’s boobs give out stock tips.

Those people? That audience that so desperately needs your transparency tools and explanations? They know how journalism works just fine. They know journalism is going to tell them about racism and corruption, about the savage legacies of slavery and segregation, about their comfortable lives being financed on the backs of the poor, about the politicians who pretend to appeal to their morals being child-molesting freakjobs, about their beloved churches being rapist protection rackets, about the favorite movie stars being perverts, about their priests being criminals, about their banks being thieves, and everything else that they think makes them upright crumbling beneath them.

And they don’t want to hear it. They’d rather be mad and they have license, granted by one of the two major political parties and the president of the United States, to be loud about how mad they are. They have an excuse to ignore what they don’t like to think about.

But all of this is going to be fixed if journalists just explain themselves the right way.

I swear to God it is like watching Tiananmen Square all over again only instead of a guy out there against the tanks it’s fucking Bambi. Blindfolded. Bleating “debate me.”

I was vague-tweeting about this nonsense yesterday and Jessica here nails the hell out of it:

Yeah. Journalism is indeed at risk, and does indeed need defending, but not with a bowl of beige oatmeal disguised as an earnest explanation of What We’re All About. This isn’t how you react in a crisis. This isn’t how you react in a war. Journalists are being shot and killed in their newsrooms and I don’t think a proportional response to the current moment is to add and infographic about How We Report This Story.

A.

The Ones She Has Found: Game of Thrones Thread

That was sincerely, no shit, no cynicism, no joking, one of the loveliest hours of television I have ever seen in my entire life.

Spoilers within:

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Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible for Fixing This

So it took about ten minutes after the Mueller Report for people to start screaming at Democrats for being spineless worthless cowards who lacked the political will to impeach Donald Trump immediately. People spent the rest of the week losing their shit at Nancy, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer and all the rest of the leadership, demanding they do the right thing and IMPEACH OR GTFO.

Meanwhile the national press began autowittering gibberish about the optics for Democrats of impeaching or not impeaching. Every Clintonista who’s been looking for a paycheck found one opining about what it did to their president when Newt Gingrich stuck his head up his own ass and decided he liked the view. The OP EDS ALONE. How would impeachment impact Bernie’s or Biden’s or Warren’s chances in 2020? How does this play in a MAGA dipshit diner in Iowa? There are head-to-head national polls! Nothing makes these losers orgasm like completely baseless speculation and insane hypotheticals and this was a banner week for both.

And spare me the ‘splain. I am not defending Nancy or Steny or Chuck. And I do know the Democrats have the House majority and we gave it to them at great cost, so don’t mistake anything I’m about to say for a gesture of sympathy for highly paid people being asked to do their literal job.

I just have a question.

Why is impeachment being discussed as if only Democrats can do it?

Why is all the pressure on THEM to impeach or not impeach, to come out for removing Trump, to deal with the political implications of impeaching or not impeaching, to make a statement or take a stand or release a strongly worded press release? Where is the call to get on the record every single pudsucking suburban rep from the Party of Lincoln saying why THEY don’t want to impeach?

I mean it. Yes, the Dems have the House majority and could do this on their own if they wanted and they don’t want to which is insane, but why does that allow Republicans to not even get a question about this. And speaking of political will and Nancy’s lack of it, if 20 Republican reps suddenly went to Nancy and Steny and Chuck and said look, we want the motherfucker out of here today, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t make a difference in her eagerness to move.

If 10 Republican senators came out in the press and said we would vote to convict Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t change the game.

Why isn’t anyone in the national press calling for THAT? Why aren’t our favorite Twitter screamers mad at the silence from the GOP? Where’s the running tally of GOP statesmen and their positions, opposite the one keeping tabs on what AOC and Elizabeth Warren are up to? Where’s the holding of their feet to the fire? If democracy’s out here dying in darkness why are we only asking one party to light the goddamn match?

And if we’re not going to expect the same things from them, why don’t we even bother to PRETEND anymore that the GOP is an actual party with the same job and obligation as the Democrats? Why do we have to do fucking everything? Clean up their mess AND worry about how cleaning up their mess makes us look? You’ve got to be kidding me with this.

By all rights, having read that report, Democrats should be able to do a victory lap on Mitch McConnell’s flopsy turtle face with their balls. I mean good God, those are some of the dumbest crimes I’ve ever heard of and I used to cover night cops in small towns. These galaxy genius brains are texting each other detailed notes of fraud and grand larceny and shit, what a bunch of buffoons.

Democrats should be able to kick back, pass those articles of impeachment along and get half of Republicans to vote with them without even trying.

Maybe some of the Clinton alumni who’ve been out here jerking it to their boss’s record for the past 20 years can explain why the media they flooded only ever demands Democrats turn on their own. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman get advised to run away from Bill Clinton in 2000 but within the GOP it’s accepted wisdom that Truly Savvy Politicians will continue to suck Trump’s dick up to and including the day he puts their kids in a cage.

And in the face of all of that I’m supposed to be mad at Nancy Pelosi? I mean, I guess, okay, but in the hierarchy of who I’m pissed at the GOP is at the top of the list and is staying there. I am just so tired of WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS DOING ABOUT TRUMP being the headline when WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS DOING is the only question until we take the Senate back.

Where are the headlines and op-eds about that? Where is the running tally of how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump and the pressure to declare or shut the fuck up?

I am so tired. At some point I’d like it if we could ask the people who shit the bed to clean it up.

A.

Our Lady of Paris

I lit candles for Kick at every church in Paris.

I visited for the first time when I was heavily pregnant, against the advice of everyone but my doctor. An overnight transatlantic flight at seven and a half months gone, plus a week of walking nonstop, climbing stairs and taking trains and buses and cabs, in what was going to be a chilly November the week before Thanksgiving? Ridiculous.

Kick’s coming wasn’t known to anyone outside our families, then. Even among our close friends, I shunned mention of the pregnancy, fear lingering from the decade of trying before her conception. Paris was yet another way of denying the inevitable, of protecting myself. We planned the trip, rented the apartment, and I slept intermittently from from O’Hare to Charles de Gaulle.

The first morning, we walked up the hill in our neighborhood to Sacre Coeur, and I stopped in front of a row of votives. My wish for my future daughter, for myself: Courage. The strength to take up a task when it presents itself, and to pursue it despite obstacle and ridicule, failure and fear. I lit a candle there, and prayed for the child that rolled and twisted inside me: Please, let her be brave.

The second to last day, at Notre Dame, I did the same. In the shadow of the stained glass, beneath the stones as old as the city, at the shrine of Joan of Arc, I prayed for her future, for health strength love joy power, for the saints and angels to watch over her, in whatever form they took.

I am not a good Catholic. I am a practicing one, in that I make attempts, motions, that often feel clumsy and false and out of tune. I stumble over the words of childhood prayers and forget the Holy Days of Obligation and joke that Jesus and I are fine but His friends are another matter. My husband and I did not attend Mass in Paris. We were going to the churches as tourists, not faithful.

But I lit candles at every single one.

It felt fraudulent. Notre Dame was not my parish, and I was barely its parishioners’ co-religionist. It was presumptuous, and likely foolish too. But if there is a place for presumptive fools, it is the Church, and we are all unworthy at its table. If it does nothing, I told myself, if it’s only light, there are worse things than light.

Today Kick ran home from school, healthy and strong and brave and joyous. The sanctuary where I prayed for all those things is ash. The candles would have guttered out an hour or two after we left, but I have thought of them every day since, knowing nothing but that what I prayed for came true, whether through my prayers in that place or not.

Our children are brave, though the world is burning, the irreplaceable places crumbling into dust. They aren’t ours, except that we pass through them and leave our prayers behind.

A.

Joy is Part of the Fight

As we are all, rightly, quarreling over the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a reminder that when we politicize people’s faith and make them symbols, we don’t just create misery. We poison ordinary human joy: 

I wrote my second book because I wanted to read a story where a young queer Muslim girl’s story was not about pain or suffering. I wanted the things that got in the way of her love story to be the everyday kinds of things that get in the way of many of our own love stories. The misunderstandings. The fear of vulnerability. The aching longing that first love so often evinces.

To be carefree and Muslim is no easy thing.

But I do write stories in which it is. Because while that world may not exist yet, I get to play by my own rules in fiction. And I want to give the next generation of Muslims stories where they can see themselves, not just as the victims of hate, but as the instigators of love.

After 9/11 and the wave of local Chicago hate crimes that followed it, I spent about a week with a Muslim family, doing my favorite kind of journalism, the kind where I just sort of hang out and write about what’s happening in a life not my own. I wrote about their prayers and their struggles but also about their pet parrot who was loud and rude, about the kids teasing each other around the dinner table. About how even in that dark time, they were happy.

I’ll be forever grateful they let me see them in those moments. They didn’t have to. It was a recklessly generous act of faith.

The times when my own prejudices have been challenged have not only been times when I’ve recognized someone’s misery as my own but when I’ve recognized their joy. We are fully in each other’s lives when we are a part of their celebrations AND their struggles, when we are as at home at each other’s weddings as at each other’s funerals.

We need to remember to be in solidarity with each other not just when times are difficult but when they are transcendent.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

It’s become clear to me that while you all are somewhat here for the cursing and cock jokes and thirst pictures of politicians, you also demand quality cat content. Here’s Ada, the prettiest kitty-witty in the entire universe:

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Who You Could Be

Jeffrey Toobin is an idiot, okay, and is rightly taking all kinds of .gif heat for this bullshit, but there’s something else at work here that overshadows the majority of the coverage of the Trump administration and the equally infuriating rehabbing of the Bush administration:

The sickness here is in Toobin’s ability to empathize and identify with Nielsen over the immigrant parents she ripped from their children. Nielsen is, after all, a pretty blond white lady, who appears at hearings and podiums dressed in a suit and nice shoes, who speaks in an even tone, so Toobin can see himself in her.

With very few wardrobe changes Jeffrey Toobin could be a nice capable bureaucrat who goes along to get along. Who spouts the party line for his boss and defends the indefensible and tries to make everyone believe that everything is fine. With very little effort — it doesn’t take a Trump to turn you, most people would do it for two quarters and a strawberry milkshake — he could be exactly where Nielsen is.

That should scare the shit out of him. The similarities between them should make him want to BRILLO HIS OWN SKIN OFF. And instead he’s casting her as some kind of innocent who’s been done wrong by an evil man and will now be unfairly punished. She deserves to be remembered for minimal competence at an office job!

If she’ll be remembered instead for her worst actions, what will Toobin be remembered for? If minimal competence at an office job and the ability to mouth complete sentences aren’t enough to buy you a spot in The Good Place, what on earth is? It’s a world gone mad.

A.

Sunday Catblogging: Look at These Two Dumb Butts

Spring has sprung in the neighborhood and there are birds everywhere so Thing One and Thing Two here are constantly tearing through the house going window to window to chase them from inside because they are the dumbest cats alive.

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Mitch Mitch Mitch, OUT OUT OUT

I wrote this back in 2016 and I’m still on that shit, as the kids say. 

In fact, I’ll go one further: The entire Resistance ™ should focus much less on ousting Trump and throw its entire weight behind ruining Mitch McConnell’s existence into and through the afterlife. 

Without Mitch, Trump couldn’t do jack dick.

Without Mitch and his pets in the howler monkey sanctuary we call the Senate, we wouldn’t have Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. We’d have Merrick Garland and yeah, probably some borderline fascist but COME ON.

Get rid of this turtle fuck and a few of his circle-jerking fascist-curious Klan buddies and suddenly Trump’s a neutered dillhole yelling at the TV instead of all that plus an imminent threat to the Republic.

We are spending all of our time yelling at Bernie and Joe Biden and Mayor Pete and I’m not saying who they are, and the media biases inherent in raising them above Kamala and Professor Zero Fucks, should be irrelevant, but Mitch McConnell is the problem.

Defeat Trump and leave Mitch in place and you have Obama’s second term which, in case anyone has blocked it out, sucked second-hand donkey sack.

With Mitch around nothing gets solved. We should be throwing ourselves at him like White Walkers at the fucking Wall. Who’s running against him? WHO YOU GOT? We’ll take anybody. They’re problematic as shit and too conservative? OKAY, HERE’S SOME MONEY THEN.

And like this is nice but I want to see party money, celebrity money, dirty sexy money, not just spent on ads for another celebrity but on voter registration and ground volunteers and GOTV and like-minded issue-oriented efforts like LET’S HAVE A DEMOCRACY AGAIN and I KNOW THIS IS KENTUCKY BUT CAN WE PLEASE TAKE SOME OF THE GUNS and OUR ROADS AND BRIDGES ARE ALL FUCKED UP. I want this fight fought like it matters.

We can spend the next year all of us having yelly angry high dudgeon about Bernie and Kamala and shit, or we can focus for once in our party’s lives and send this foreskin-headed hijo de Putin into retirement or indictment.

I’m not picky. It’s all fine so long as at the end of the day he’s gone.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Some people are making newspapers for people in prison: 

It was the publication of that essay that led to me walking through the office doors of The Marshall Project two months later—having finally won parole—to talk with their staff about my experiences. That conversation led to me joining their team and to the creation of News Inside—a collection of TMP’s award-winning journalism that relates directly to incarcerated lives. In the past month, we began distributing the pilot edition of this print publication to prisons and jails; to date it is circulating in 30 facilities in 19 states.

I wanted to share our rich articles with my information-poor former community, particularly those who believe study is a chance for redemption, who sacrifice sleep and risk a misbehavior report to pore over textbooks under shaded lamps after lights-out, who struggle to find resources to expand their minds.

A.

People Cared About Their Newspapers and Newspapers Pissed That Away

This is making the rounds of journo Twitter and everybody’s all HEE HEE HEE but honestly, it illustrates the saddest thing about the newspaper debacle currently grinding its way to a miserable end:

People cared about their newspapers. They always did. Newspapers had generational brand loyalty that most companies could only DREAM about. Time was you had a whole IDENTITY built around being a reader of X paper instead of Y. Yeah, everybody bitched but everybody bitches about their baseball team, too, and here we are every opening day. The Milwaukee Brewers have ruined my dad’s life for more than six decades and he still went to spring training to watch them fuck around pointlessly in the Arizona sun because that’s how he loves them. Enough to complain.

People cared about their newspapers and the newspapers’ owners pissed that away. They fired the good reporters, flailed at every internet trend, moved the copy desk to Texas, ran reams of wire copy, cut the paper’s size and shape and delivery schedule, outsourced the distribution to their competitors, and finally just gave up.

For the 20 or so years it took them to accomplish all that they counted on older reporters to yell at younger ones for “taking” jobs, counted on lazy industry hacks to blame the Internet, counted on nobody to watch the money, and counted on never having to market themselves because their customers would never move or die. And all the while people cared about the newspaper.

They complained when the paper wasn’t on the porch. They carped when a section got dropped or a listing got moved. They were enraged when, having paid for seven days of a paper, they got three and no refund. It mattered to them. It mattered to them and they got corporatespeak mishymashy nonsense about embracing the digital future. No wonder they tuned out in record numbers. No wonder they fled.

A.

So We Mailed Some LEGOs to Alaska, Guys!

Every time I ask you guys I think this time it’s not gonna make a dent and oh boy did you ever make a dent:

You’re all just so great.

A.

The Point Is To Be Mean

I’ve written before about how everything right now is designed to make you give up, lie down and quit fighting, and of course twas ever thus for those we nice white people didn’t want participating in the system, but increasingly we are weaponizing our customer service systems against ourselves: 

Elizabeth Cloinger, 47, who lives in a trailer next to her cousin’s house just outside town, thought she was complying with the new rules. She has been on Medicaid for years and already had a job, working seven days most weeks as a home health aide. Her wages — 9.25 an hour, with 50 cents more for hospice patients — and her hours met the new rules. Yet she received a June letter saying she needed to verify that her income made her eligible, or she would be cut off.

She called the listed phone number and faxed information to a state employee in Pine Bluff. She was told that, like many people, she was exempt from the work requirements — in her case, because she was caring for her 20-year-old daughter recovering from a car accident and her 3-year-old granddaughter.

But on Aug. 18, she received another letter, saying she had been terminated because she had not verified her income. In December, four letters arrived saying she needed to update her email address, then 11 more in January. Each letter told her to create an online account. She doesn’t have a computer and didn’t realize that the program requires everyone to get an email address.

A federal judge struck down these requirements recently, but of course they’ll come back, and of course the GOP and some MY BRAND IS CENTRIST Democrats will keep trying to make the poor prove they’re poor, the disabled prove they’re disabled, and everybody having a hard time will be forced to perform that hard time for the public to make us all feel better or something.

The point is to get people to give up and die already. It’s to exhaust them, the way endless appeals to insurance companies and run-arounds and “log in to your account except you need an account to log in” mechanisms are designed to do so. The point is to make people who have a limited capacity to fight struggle even harder. The point is to be mean.

And to who? To people who take care of the elderly in nursing homes and hospices, for ten goddamn dollars an hour. Hospice workers are angels on this earth and should be paid like star quarterbacks, this is already disgusting, and here come our National Scolds to make things worse. As if someone who works in a nursing home has to prove anything to anybody. If these lawmakers had to empty even one bedpan they’d faint from exertion.

I will never understand — as a person who, full disclosure, paid a healthy amount of taxes last year for the first time in my adult life — what I am supposed to get out of punishing people like that. Atrios says all the time that the health care system can be wildly complicated and expensive on the back end but should be absolutely free and simple on the front end and I absolutely agree but for EVERYTHING.

Yeah, people are gonna game the system. Somebody’s gonna be a welfare queen. Get the hell over it. If the choice is between “a system that can be gamed but hospice nurses get paid and can see a doctor themselves” and “a system that nobody can game WHICH IS IMAGINARY and is also a huge pain in the ass for the people who literally care for the dying and drives such people into poverty” I will gladly, enthusiastically accept the former.

A.

In Loving and Awed Memory of Tom Butler, First Draft Krewe

You ever get shown up thoroughly by someone twice your age?

Tom Butler and his wife June did that to me in 2007 in NOLA. Longtime readers may remember we assembled a bunch of Internet people who’d never met (pictured above) to go to New Orleans to gut a house in the aftermath of Katrina. Tom, second from left up there, absolutely kicked my ass.

He and June, beside him as always, hauled out barrow after barrow, bucket after bucket, of filth from this roach-ridden rotting hulk of a flooded home in 90-degree heat and 90 percent humidity, working dawn to dusk with hardly a break to make this busted thing a home again. I needed a long lie-down after about two hours of swinging a sledgehammer and all Tom did was keep working. He smiled the whole time.

Tom passed away this morning. He was generous, kindhearted and true, and helped where he could, always. Our condolences to June and her family, and Tom, I hope, is somewhere finally resting up.

A.

LET’S MAIL SOME LEGOS TO ALASKA

I dunno if anybody else is struggling right now but I AM. Holy balls, am I ever.

The world is a dark miserable shitass place and being on Twitter is losing its goddamn charm as all I ever see is people attacking each other over who’s really a Bernie bro and who humped their cat and who has the WORST ideas for revamping local news and who I used to love yesterday who now has to be cancelled because he has revenge or rape or race-war fantasies.

And I do not have a hot take on any of it. I’m just annoyed by everything. Once upon a time I would have enjoyed laughing at Cat Humper Twitter as much as I did David Cameron Dead Pig Humper Twitter, but lately my overarching reaction is just to be really, really tired by everyone’s antics. Which is not productive. Or helpful.

You know what is?

MAILING LEGOS TO ALASKA. 

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My Fellow Honkies Acquitted Ourselves Well Yesterday

I spent Saturday at the tamest possible version of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities: the kids’ room at a local “heritage” festival.

Where people were drunk-yelling along with the Dropkick Murphys at 1 p.m. and a dude spilled an entire beer on his 6-ish-year-old’s head while in a wee babby mosh pit during “Michael Finnegan.” I can’t blame him. That’s an absolute banger, all 47 verses.

We refer to this weekend as Amateur Night in Chicago for a reason: 

5:36PM — “A highly intoxicated white male wearing a large styrofoam sombrero” is lying down in the middle of Grand and State.

Never change, my weak-livered brothers. Never change.

A.

Just Have the Journalists Do Everything

Let us sell it, at least we know what we’re doing:

In another attempt to retain local union jobs in the face of expected layoffs, members of the PD News Guild have asked the Plain Dealer Publishing Company to collaborate with them on a subscription drive.

In a letter sent Tuesday, to which the company has not yet officially responded, the Guild asked that for every 500 new subscriptions purchased, one local journalist’s job be preserved for an additional year.

With expected support from local unions, including the member unions that comprise the North Shore Federation of Labor, the News Guild asked that a discounted rate be offered to “unions, retirees and supporters.”

I know how hot it gets you people when I talk about newspaper marketing and distribution so here we go. This is actually a good idea, as sad as it is to make people’s democracy-dies-in-darkness jobs conditional on something as fickle as circ. I’d go one better: Have the journalists actually make the subscription calls.

No, really.

A lot of newspaper chains in the late 1990s and early 2000s consolidated and centralized their circulation departments. It sounds good if you’re the kind of lizard-brained consultant critter who uses words like “synergize” and “marketing space” and stuff: One call center for five small papers in a general region, with a phone tree instead of a kindly permed receptionist.

It sounds good, until you’re explaining which of the papers you want to a minimum-wager working off a script who lives four towns away and doesn’t know the 7-Eleven you tried to buy your paper at and can’t pronounce the name of your street nor explain why the paper covers your area but doesn’t sell in it.

Like this is a joke but it’s not, really:

The automation and corporatization of basic newspaper operations has as much to do with falling circ as the mobile internet does. Maybe more. I know the older I get the less patience I have for bloated heaving websites that circumvent my adblocker and I’d much rather flip through a paper with my coffee.

But they can’t get it on my porch by 6 a.m. and even if they do, it’s full of syndicated racists and bothsiders whining about civility next to four pages of wire copy about celebrities and a “what’s trending on Twitter today” box, along with reminders to go to the shitass website for the interesting stories and striking photos.

Papers aren’t ever-present anymore, so it’s possible to ignore them. While the tough dirty children were out there yelling (and the downtown boxes were filled, and the racks were in every bodega, and the neighbors were doing the delivery) it wasn’t as easy to overlook them, to flip to TMZ or spend your commute playing Candy Crush. Now, even if you’re looking for the paper you often can’t find it.

Journalists might be the last people on earth who care about that so if they have to be the ones to fix it, well, shit, nobody else is gonna do it. Even the PD’s union admits this is a long shot:

Given how the company has responded to Guild bargaining requests in recent weeks, it’s unlikely that the letter will be met with support or good faith. (The company’s goal is to employ less of them, ultimately.)

I’ve been saying it for a while now: Ain’t nobody coming to save journalism except you and me and everyone we know who cares about it. I’m about done listening to people complain about the way the world is when some of us are out here trying to build something new.

And yeah, we gotta make the sales calls to do it. We gotta pass the sentence and swing the sword. We gotta work day jobs to do the writing we want to see in the world and we have to keep doing it as long as we can. You can bitch about the tree in your way or you can pick up an axe.

Or a phone.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

People are racing dogs across Alaska and other people are raising money for the schools along the way:

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