Brian Moritz on the death of newspapers

At Scholars & Rogues, Brian Moritz shares his story of “Why I left newspapers.”

Moritz used to be a beat reporter. I used to be a print and online copyeditor. At this point that’s about like saying he used to be a blacksmith and I used to be an elevator operator.

At one point we both loved those jobs, and then, gradually, they became a lot harder to love. “It stopped being fun,” Moritz says. And that was, in large part, because they stopped being something it was still possible to do well. (I wrote about that near the end of my run in the newspaper racket, in a post called “Playoffs and Rocking Chairs.”)

Click over and read the whole thing, but my favorite part of Moritz’ post is probably this:

The layoffs started, followed by the furloughs. Wondering every six months if you were still going to have a job was bad enough. Wondering every six months if you were still going to have a job while trying to figure out how to make ends meet when you lose a week of pay each quarter. Then the job cuts kept coming. The industry still hasn’t figured itself out.

More striking — it stopped being fun.

The newsrooms I worked in used to be fantastic, vital places. There was an energy to the room, especially when news was breaking. Being a reporter could be, above all else, fun.

That was long gone by 2009. The layoffs, the furloughs, the space cuts, all of it, sucked the life out of the room, out of the industry.

For this, I blame newspaper owners. By their actions, by their slavish devotion to print profit margins at any cost, by their desire to maximize profit while minimizing the quality of the product, by their inability or unwillingness to embrace digital news, they have sucked so much of the soul out of a business I love.

It’s telling that when anyone leaves the business, my first reaction (and that of almost everyone else I know) is “Good move. Smart decision.”

Every word of that. Amen to every single word.

 

  • EllieMurasaki

    1) 87% of all statistics are pulled out of the speaker’s ass on demand and don’t actually mean shit. And even if your 63% figure has some validity to it, shouldn’t the other 37% be taken into consideration?

    2) So it’s all right to use hurtful language as long as the people who are personally offended are not, as far as you know, present? That doesn’t hurt the people whose presence you have made no effort to discover? That doesn’t in any way contribute to others feeling that it’s all right to use hurtful language whether the people who are personally offended are present or not? Or does the language have to, in your (doubtless uneducated) opinion, be hurtful enough before you will admit that it should not be used under any circumstances?

    3) If you weren’t using language that hurts people, I wouldn’t be swearing at you. Your saying that my swearing at you is the reason you will continue to use language that hurts people is cart-before-horse absurdity. As for your implication that if I had not been swearing at you then you would cheerfully amend your ways to never use this particular bit of hurtful language again, citation fucking needed.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    “I’m offended by that.” Well, so fucking what?

    I’ve never entirely understood this.

    If I say something that offends you, and you tell me, then I have the ability to make a decision. I can go on saying it, doing so in the full awareness that it offends you, because I prefer to say it. Or I can stop saying it, because I prefer to not offend you.

    If I say something that offends you and you don’t tell me, then I don’t have that ability.

    Telling me seems strictly superior. If I don’t care, then it doesn’t affect my behavior. If I do care, then it does.

    The kind of angry response your comment, and Fry’s, (and those of hordes of other self-proclaimed “anti-PC” advocates) demonstrate would make sense to me if I somehow didn’t get to make a choice… if, when you tell me you’re offended by what I say, I’m somehow forced to stop saying it, because I don’t actually have any agency. It makes sense to me when we’re talking about regulating speech, or criminalizing it, or something like that.

    But it doesn’t just get used in those contexts; it gets generalized to criticize people simply saying they’re offended.

    That seems goofy to me.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    persay

    PER SE, goddamnit.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    you just too the lord’s name in vain. that offends me

  • EllieMurasaki

    People of your religion who follow all the rules of your religion all the time are not all the people in the world. Similarly, people who are unaffected or unhurt by the statement that people who have mobility disabilities are bad or incomplete are not all the people in the world.

  • caryjamesbond

    “50% of people who identified as indigenous preferred the term “American Indian,” 37% preferred “Native American” and the remainder preferred other terms or had no preference.”
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2/gen/96arc/ivatuck.pdf

    And even if your 63% figure has some validity to it, shouldn’t the other 37% be taken into consideration?
    Sure- and if they express that preference, I’ll gladly comply. But when you want to talk about making words and terms “slurs” you need a little more than 1/3d of the relevant population giving a crap. There may be black people who don’t care about the n-word, but the overwhelming statement of this group has been that the n-word is very, very bad.  I certainly doubt there are any black people at all who would just laugh it off if I used that word.

    So it’s all right to use hurtful language as long as the people who are personally offended are not, as far as you know, present?
    That really, REALLY depends.  ”Hurtful language” is an EXTREMELY broad term. I won’t say “Jesus Christ” in front of my grandmother, because it offends her. On the other hand, I won’t say the N-word anywhere.

    That doesn’t hurt the people whose presence you have made no effort to discover?
    There is a wee box labeled “comment.  

    Or does the language have to, in your (doubtless uneducated) opinion, be hurtful enough before you will admit that it should not be used under any circumstances?

    People think taking the Lord’s name in vain is hurtful. People think disparaging their religion is hurtful. People think the  N-word is hurtful.  Three different cases, three different levels of hurt, three different reactions.  

    In one case, I limit what I say for the feelings of my grandmother, but just because my christian friend says “don’t say Jesus freakin’ Christ” doesn’t mean I’ll stop. In the next, my friend’s feelings may be enough to make me not say certain things, but I feel free to say them when he isn’t there. In the third, I don’t say that at all.  In all three cases I’m deciding what is “hurtful enough” when I mitigate or do not mitigate my behavior.  

    I’m assuming that you made the exact same decision when you thought “well, saying “fuck” is offensive to some people, but in this case…”

    As for whether your cursing made the difference-  I can say I’ve made an effort (not a perfect one, but an effort) to not say “crazy” and “retarded” as much, because people asked me nicely. Actually, while writing these comments, on at least one occasion I deleted the word crazy because that thought crossed my mind.   Now, however, every time I say “that’s so lame” I’m not just using a word, I’m sticking it to that schmuck what cussed me out for it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You have no grounds to try that ridiculously asinine attempt at logical judo when you’ve asserted you will continue to use a term you’ve been asked not to use around people on this here blog, Chris Hadrick.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    caryjamesbond: As much as I get that there are personality types (yours
    apparently among them) who will purposely do something they’ve been told not to do if they haven’t been ~asked nicely~, could you just this once not try rationalizing the use of “lame” from your one-person data point and just… not use the word?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ‘yawn’ pretty lame thread

  • Lori

    Why are you here? It’s not as if you’re an actual participant in this community.You’re just a troll. You contribute nothing of value and you learn nothing of value. Is your life so empty that you really get that much benefit from trolling?

  • caryjamesbond

    As much as I get that there are personality types (yours 

    apparently among them) who will purposely do something they’ve been told not to do if they haven’t been ~asked nicely~,

    “having curses shrieked at you” is hardly the same as not being asked nicely.But sure, IV.   I’ll add  it to my mental list  of words not to use. Won’t promise perfection but I’ll make an effort.

    See, Ellie? Not that hard*, is it?

    *Is it ok to say this? Seems like it might be insulting to the impotent.

  • Lori

    You do know that we remember that this is not the first time this issue has come up in this community, right? We do. We remember that folks have been asked, with no cursing involved, not to use “lame” in a derogatory way. We remember that at least one member of this community has spoken up to say that A) she is lame and B) finds the use of “lame” in this way to be insulting and hurtful. Your charming display of “no one specifically asked me nicely enough to suit me” special snowflakeness is not your finest hour here. 

    Also, being a dick while promising to try  not to be such a dick isn’t clever. (See what I did there?)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I have to use this phrase now to Chris Hadrick:

    There is no palm large enough to encompass the magnitude of my facepalm.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I’m more offended by your attempts to act as the language morality police than you are by me using the word lame.

    Lori- she started it. I was talking about the topic. till she “called me out” for a using a word that millions of people use everyday in the context in which I used it.

    and which I will not stop using it. Sorry Ellie, you’re just going to have to learn to lame with it.

  • Lori

    What? Are you 12? Mom, she hit me first.

    Also, since when is the participation of millions of people every day your standard for moral acceptability? You’re constantly whining at us about how you’re the last moral man because everyone else is such a bunch of war mongers. By your standard the fact that so many people engage in, support or are at least indifferent to war must mean that it’s OK. You many want to take another look at your work there, big guy.

    Also, if you think you’re making Ellie look bad or unreasonable, you seriously need to jump on the clue train. Or more precisely, you need to crawl back under your bridge and stay there.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh god, not the “I’m offended that you’re offended” thing.

    What’s next? The “OMG Professionally Offended Language Police” crap?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Has anyone bothered to ask the actual Indians how they feel about having to share a name with a group of people on the opposite side of the planet?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    neutrino- your screen name offends me. please change it. It makes light of the plight of the invisible peoples of India

    lori- apples and oranges. war kills people, no one has died of theuse of the word lame

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ok, now you’re just trying to be an ass for the sake of being an ass.

    It’s people like you who behave like that which almost make me believe that theory I saw that people protesting the use of certain words in English, way back in the 1990s, were really right-wing trolls masquerading as social justice advocates, because that kind of infantile crap is something I’ve seen people on the right do.

  • Lori

    People have died because of the othering of the disabled.

    Your issue is not what kills people, it’s what you like and don’t like. You don’t like that war costs you money. You do like othering the disabled for your own amusement. Once again demonstrating why no one with a lick of sense take you seriously when you attempt to play the morality card.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There are more purposes to the word ‘invisible’ than the one you mention. The only purposes to the word ‘lame’ are to describe mobility disabilities and to disparage by comparison to mobility disabilities.

    So no one is allowed to attempt to rectify an injustice, especially a popular injustice, unless the injustice has caused someone to die? Huh. Somebody tell everybody in the court system that they can take a few days off as none of the cases before them that don’t involve a death are going to be pursued any further.

  • Lori

     

    Ok, now you’re just trying to be an ass for the sake of being an ass.  

    Now? That implies that there are times when Chris is not an ass just for the sake of being an ass.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    are you offended by lame duck sessions of congress?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Now you mention it, yeah, there are surely ways to express that concept that do not rely on the disparagement of mobility disabilities.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Most of the time he just seems to like being dense about political complexities, which, while not a sterling quality, isn’t really availing himself of the congenital meanness which underlies a lot of the behavior of the political right.

    But at this point he’s purposely choosing to be mean, and an ass into the bargain.

  • caryjamesbond

     Has anyone bothered to ask the actual Indians how they feel about having to share a name with a group of people on the opposite side of the planet?Yes. The US Census Bureau.  50% preferred “American Indian,” 13% didn’t care, 37% like “native American.”  

    Also, being a dick while promising to try  not to be such a dick isn’t clever.

    First of all, I’m gonna presume that you’d be willing to let me use “pussy” in a negative sense, right? since you’re fine with gendered insults.

    (LOLZ I don’t care.  Seriously, who gives a crap about stuff like that?)

    Second- trying to not be a dick to IN, trying to be a dick to Ellie.   Because IN appears to actually give a crap about getting stuff done, Ellie just wants to yell at people for not living up to her standards.  Shes one of those people who gets off on offense. 

    You can tell- the people that actually want to change things are  kindly spoken, reasonable, and understanding. Like Cesar Chavez. The people that just want to be angry are all screechy and tend to jump up and down while foaming at the mouth. Like Michelle Bachmann.  Or Hitler.*

    *KNEW I could work him into this discussion somehow.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’d rather you didn’t patronizingly hold me up as some kind of “example” to EllieMurasaki or Lori or anyone, TYVM.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also:

    You can tell- the people that actually want to change things are  kindly
    spoken, reasonable, and understanding. Like Cesar Chavez. The people
    that just want to be angry are all screechy and tend to jump up and down
    while foaming at the mouth.

    This?

    Is what they call a

    wait for it

    “Tone Argument”

    So! ~The more you know~. Go forth and do not tone argument again please.

  • Lori

     

    You can tell- the people that actually want to change things are  kindly
    spoken, reasonable, and understanding. Like Cesar Chavez. The people
    that just want to be angry are all screechy and tend to jump up and down
    while foaming at the mouth. Like Michelle Bachmann.  Or Hitler.*  

    Nice selective use of examples in support of an invalid tone argument. So impressive.

    Your complaints about tone would seem a lot more impressive if the request hadn’t previously been made in a perfectly nice way and still totally ignored by you.

    Somehow I suspect that at some point in the future we will have this discussion again and that you will once again act as if you’ve never been asked nicely enough to refrain from saying something that people in this community find hurtful. Because being asked nicely isn’t actually the issue. The issue is that you want to say whatever you want to say, without ever being called on it. At least own the fact that you’re just being a jerk and stop blathering on about niceness. That lecture really lacks something coming from a person defending his right to say something that hurts other people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The US Census Bureau polled people in Mumbai?

    So the correct approach to trying to get people to remove hurtful language from their vocabulary is “Hey, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you any, do you mind not saying that?” Because that approach does not actually convey that there are actual people actually hurt and angered by this actual problem. That approach does not in fact consistently convey that there is a problem at all. And when it does indicate to the listener that there is a real problem here, it also indicates that the problem is not urgent, not important, an annoyance at worst.

    Which is not to say that reasonableness and respect do not have their place. They do. That place is generally in solving the problem after the people who must be involved in its solution have all been made aware that the problem exists.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    What if your request isn’t reasonable though? Should people do what you say when it is altogether possible that it’s you not them who has the problem? You’re in danger of turning right wing blowhards, ahem, into first amendment heroes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    All we want you to do is find a way to say ‘not good enough’ that does not convey that via evoking people with disabilities. In what way is that unreasonable?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     You know, for someone who ostensibly opposes war, you sure do love to create human suffering.

    Of course, that’s just based on your libertarian politics. This whole “Even though I know it hurts people, I’m going to say it anyway even though it’s absolutely no cost to me to stop, and also I will mock the pain of others” thing is just you being a super-asshole.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Yes. The US Census Bureau.  50% preferred “American Indian,” 13% didn’t care, 37% like “native American.” 

    Why would the US Census bureau be polling Indians about what Native Americans want to be called? Were they polling Indian-Americans? Again, why would the census care what Indian-Americans want Native Americans to be called?

    (The question I asked wasn’t “Has anyone asked what native americans want to be called,” it’s “Has anyone asked if *actual indians* are okay with us giving their name to native americans.”  I’d be all for calling native americans whatever they prefer to be called, but if what they want to be called is “Indians”, well, sorry; that one’s taken by the people who live in india)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I find it unreasonable because it would be feeding an unhealthy and illogical desire on your part.  I can’t be a party to that. Yes I can easily find another word to convey the same meaning but I don’t want or need to because there’s nothing wrong with the word lame.

    If you don’t want to use it that’s your choice. Perhaps one day society will realize what you’re saying is right and join you and the word lame will become taboo.  Who knows.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And my friends who cannot hear the word ‘lame’ without being reminded of the many and varied ways in which society considers wheelchair users deficient, unpersons, not good enough, their pain counts for nothing? Their pain, shared by a great many people with mobility disabilities, is insufficient to prove that there is something wrong with the word?

    Or is it just that it doesn’t hurt you and therefore cannot possibly hurt anyone?

  • Lori

    I find it unreasonable because it would be feeding an unhealthy and illogical desire on your part.  I can’t be a party to that. Yes I can easily find another word to convey
    the same meaning but I don’t want or need to because there’s nothing
    wrong with the word lame.

    You are just the worst. Smug, self-righteous, nasty and wrong. A perfect example of the Glibertarian in the wild.

    ETA: It’s people like you that make me wish Fred was a little bit freer with the ban hammer.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    What if your request isn’t reasonable though? Should people do what you say when it is altogether possible that it’s you not them who has the problem?

    My $0.02 — if I have a choice between expressing myself in ways that upset people and ways that don’t, I will generally look at how much it costs me to avoid it, and how much I care about the people. If the cost is low, I’ll usually make the change. If the cost is high and I don’t care about the people, I usually won’t.

    I don’t care too much if the request is reasonable, though, or who “has the problem.” For example, if someone has an irrational phobia of rabbits and requests that I not mention them in conversation, I’ll try to accede to that, even though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “rabbit.” They have a problem, certainly, but that’s no reason for me to make things worse for them. Quite the contrary.

    OTOH, I do make judgments about people’s good faith. If I don’t think a request is being made in good faith, I might ignore it, even if the cost is low. But I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    What do you recommend doing?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “Their pain, shared by a great many people with mobility disabilities, is insufficient to prove that there is something wrong with the word?”

    Well first, I have no way of knowing if the word lame is offensive to a great many people or anyone other than these people you knew.

    Do you know how many times a day someone says something is a “lame excuse”?  I imagine disabled people would be seething with rage and letting us know in some way if it were as painful to them as you say.

     the definition of lame as it relates not to people but to THINGS  has come to be the dominant one and thus the generally understood meaning.

    In this sense, however,  calling an actual disabled person lame would now be in bad taste even though  it was of course commonplace in the past.

    Society has chosen the new definition for lame and scrapped the old one.  I don’t know who started it. surfers?  Anyway, It’s organic and theres nothing anyone can do about it unless the ones affected really raise a big stink over it.

     

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Dave- theres no reason to fear rabbits. the person obviously experienced some sort of negative trauma with one that they need to get over.

    It’s like if someone has Obsessive compulsive disorder. You aren’t helping them by allowing them to wash everything, you help them by forcing them not too.

    Obviously the analogy is a little off but the point is it’s not always right to give people what they want. theres moral culpablity for helping people indulge as well.

    Lori- ban me for using the word lame?

  • EllieMurasaki

    GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND.

    The “generally understood” meaning of ‘lame’ relies on the earlier meaning of ‘lame’. The understanding that ‘lame’ means ‘not good enough’ comes from the understanding that people who are lame, that is, who have mobility disabilities, are not good enough. Take away the disability-related meaning of ‘lame’ and we are left with a single syllable that signifies absolutely fucking nothing.

    Also, ignorance is common and so is fuckwittery. Many people do not know, because no one has told them, that ‘lame’ is unacceptable. Many others, like that troll over there goes by caryjamesbond, know it is unacceptable and that is why they use it.

  • Lori

    Ban you for being a troll.

    you help them by forcing them not too.

    You know as little about OCD and its treatment as you do about economics and politics. Which is to say, shut your yap, you ignorant jerk. Also, stay the hell away from people with OCD.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I neither have OCD nor know anyone who does (or if I do know someone, I am unaware of their OCDness), but OCD is an anxiety disorder. I find it very difficult to believe that the appropriate response to OCD is to refuse to permit the OCD person to engage in their anxiety-relieving behavior. Make them put it off for fifteen minutes and see if they still feel like they need to do it? That makes sense. Do not let them do it at all? That sounds like a recipe to send their anxiety through the roof.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Dave- theres no reason to fear rabbits. 

    Sure. That’s why I picked the example in the first place. Like I said, I don’t really care whether it’s “reasonable” or not, I care whether I’m helping or hurting people.

    you help them by forcing them not to… it’s not always right to give people what they want. theres moral culpablity for helping people indulge as well.

    Sure, I agree with this.

    And it’s not always right to deny people what they want, or to force them to stop doing what they want to do, or to do things that upset them.

    If I understand the situation well enough that I’m confident that my judgment is superior to theirs, sure, I might ignore their requests and do what I think is best instead. But that’s relatively rare.

    In particular, if someone was traumatized by rabbits and asks me not to talk about rabbits around them, I don’t consider that a good reason to ignore their request and start going “rabbit rabbit rabbit, neener neener!” on the grounds that they need to get over it. That strikes me as a bad act.

  • Lori

    I know you didn’t mean it this way, but I suspect that the troll does so I’m going to point it out—–it’s not appropriate or in any way remotely acceptable for anyone to “make” a person with OCD do anything. A qualified therapist is the only one who should be working with the person to create and implement a safe, effective, humane plan for dealing with the behavior and the underlying anxiety. The fact that it would even enter the troll’s mind that it’s OK to “help” a person with OCD by forcing them to do what he believes is best is repulsive.

    Troll, this is how I know that you’re lying when you claim to care about people hurt by war—-because you have repeatedly demonstrated that you don’t care about people at all.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, absolutely qualified therapist only, I thought I’d said that but I see not.

  • Lori

    Like I said, I knew you meant it that way. I suspect Chris really does consider it acceptable to decide what’s best for people and then do his best to force it on them “for their own good”. That shit’s just evil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    You’ve been spending time with Jimmy Carter?
    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/america.png

  • lester

    Dave- I agree, but the point is they have an emotional problem about rabbits and you don’t. You shouldn’t avoid rabbits they should.

    Also, Ellie stated that in fact “To be fair, I’ve no disabilities and ‘lame’ is not personally offensive to me, and I never said it was” so this is a purely a intellectual excercise in which she is choosing to be melodramatic.

    Lori- what the therapist does is get them to overcome their OCD by touching doorknobs and that sort of thing. It’s called exposure therapy. It’s done with the help of a therapist but the person is doing it themselves.

    You help the person by facilitating them in this, not in making it easy for them to indulge in their behaviours. The goal is to cure the disaease, not just to make it more comfortable for the person experiencing it.
     

  • EllieMurasaki

    Suppose Chris is sexually harassing Pat. Alex sees this and verbally or physically warns Chris off. Is that, for Alex, “purely an intellectual exercise in which [Alex] is choosing to be melodramatic”? Or is that an attempt to help Pat and to make clear to Chris that such behavior is unacceptable?


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