Category Archives: media industry

johns hopkins’ sexist column

There are really no words for this “opinion column,” i.e. misogynist screed, that Jezebel unearthed from The Johns Hopkins News-Letter. I’d hesitate to give it even more page views, but it’s already been taken down. (You can get the gist of it from the Jez post.)

I’ve written before about the lessons I learned as a college paper opinion editor, but you can be sure this wouldn’t have run on my watch — or even that of my least enlightened male colleagues. Also, what’s up with the use of “bear” instead of “bare” in the headline? Stupid mistake or stupider joke?

ETA: Here’s the cached version.

Update: Ah, the old “satire” defense

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columbine and phoebe price

One of the best books I read last year was Columbine by journalist Dave Cullen. It eviscerates much of the conventional wisdom about the school shooting — that the killers were outcasts, that the massacre was a means of settling the score for a lifetime of bullying — and paints a much more nuanced picture of what motivated Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Most compelling is the argument that Harris was a psychopath, and the implication that as an adult he might have done worse.

I thought of this book a lot while reading a great piece posted on Slate yesterday: Emily Bazelon’s investigation into teenager Phoebe Price’s suicide, for which six of her classmates have been indicted. Bazelon, who has been reporting from the Massachusetts town for much of the year, raises a lot of questions about the rush to lay blame, and whether the bullying of Price was severe enough to warrant criminal prosecution.

It’s a delicate subject, and it’s disturbing that we seem to have less of a handle on bullying now than we did 11 years ago, thanks to technology. But we also haven’t seemed to learn that these meta-narratives we construct following a tragedy often obscure the real issues. ‘The untouchable Mean Girls’ sure makes a grabby headline, but does it really contribute to the dialogue — or just stand in its way?

journalism in the age of twitter

It was inevitable — a journalist has been fired thanks to Twitter. Specifically, CNN’s Octavia Nasr, a 20-year reporter, lost her job over these 140 characters: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

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the daily show’s snarky response to jezebel

Recently, Jezebel’s Irin Carmon wrote a thought-provoking piece about the lack of women on The Daily Show. I thought it relied a bit heavily on an interview with disgruntled former correspondent Lauren Weedman, but overall the story was balanced, with several former female employees defending Stewart. Frankly, the numbers speak for themselves.

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you know what they say about opinions

Writing a weekly opinion column for The Cavalier Daily during my college years was an invaluable lesson in organizing my thoughts. Editing the opinion page taught me something less tangible: Where is the line between your right to an opinion and your readers’ right to respect? Reading two pretty appalling opinion pieces recently brought those lessons to mind — Ramin Setoodeh’s Newsweek column that argued gay actors can’t play straight, and this week’s column from Time‘s Joel Stein, which lamented the influx of Indian immigrants to his hometown.

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weekly reading: taylor swift profile

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for a well-known musician to call. At the appointed hour (hopefully), my phone will ring, the Caller ID will show “Blocked” and from the minute I pick up, I will keep one eye on the upper-righthand corner of my laptop so I don’t chat for any longer than the carefully negotiated 20 minutes. Glamourous, isn’t it?

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rolling stone’s mcchrystal mistake

A popular sentiment among frustrated Gen X journalists like me is that print publications have written their own death sentence. Some of my elders may disagree, but there’s no better example than Rolling Stone‘s fumble with its Gen. McChrystal profile, which had more than just the blogosphere buzzing this morning, but wasn’t available to read on the magazine’s site. (And in a bizarrely RIAA-like move, RS sent a cease and desist to a blog that posted a PDF of the article — which tons of news sites used to report the story.) But don’t take my word for it — read Megan Carpentier’s succinct takedown at Talking Points Memo.

On a side note, I’m thrilled to see Carpentier at TPM. She cut her teeth at Jezebel, and its political coverage hasn’t been the same since she left. And the Web’s best lefty blog surely benefits from an additional woman’s voice.

Update: The full story is now up at RollingStone.com and I sincerely hope people read the entire thing instead of the soundbites. It’s about substantially more than McChrystal’s snarkiness — a troubling look at the state of things in Afghanistan.