maradydd: (fail)
The source of the "Collateral Murder" video, which caused a great deal of grief for the U.S. military earlier this year, has been leaked -- by none other than former "homeless hacker" turned wannabe-reporter and government stooge, Adrian Lamo.

Hey, Lamo, hope you enjoyed your stint with the Fourth Estate. The internet can debate whether you've violated journalistic ethics till it's blue in the face, but I look at it from a pragmatic perspective: do you really think any source with an even potentially controversial story is ever going to trust a known snitch?

It takes a pretty special kind of stupid to deep-six yourself out of two completely different career fields in a mere seven years. Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] enochsmiles is sitting back and saying "I told you so."
maradydd: (Default)
So, I know everyone and their retarded cousin's three-legged dog reads BoingBoing these days, which is why I don't typically repost stuff I find there, but Paul di Filippo's The Joy of Corporate Journalism, by J. Ives Turnkey is sheer, unadulterated frothing brilliance. [livejournal.com profile] czarina69, please make sure [livejournal.com profile] sclerotic_rings reads it -- apart from the kind words for Science Fiction Eye, I expect it'll give him quite the warm fuzzy.

His description of what it's like to work in the world of corporate journalism is pretty much par from the course, but the part that really stands for me is the bulleted list that appears on page 4, his description of the unwritten dicta that make a Wired article a Wired article. "All references to 'the little people' are minimized." "The past is dismissed as unimportant." "Quotidian matters are de-emphasized." Welcome to the world of modern media; it's not just Wired. This is Slashdot, this is NBC/CBS/ABC, this is your local newspaper, this is what you and everyone around you is being told the road to success and coolness looks like.

This makes me sad. See, I remember reading things that glamorize not just the completion of some achievement, but the struggle it took to get there too. My Side of the Mountain, and how it encouraged my belief that if the kid in that story could work through any situation he faced, so could I. Walden, with Thoreau's lovingly detailed accounts of how he settled into his little corner of the woods. Atlas Shrugged -- my memories of the passages about Dagny falling asleep at her desk as she works to save the railroad have kept me company on many of my own Long Dark Nights of the Code. And I guess it's really no surprise, but also rather ironic, that books champion the journey as much as the destination while articles are all about the flash and bang -- after all, writing a book is a case study in being in it for the long haul, and what was the last news article you read that stayed with you for years? The mark of a non-professional journalist these days, sad to say, is that he actually gives a damn about what he's writing; it's the guys who are just starting their careers who polish everything till it shines, fact-check obsessively, develop a characteristic voice, and turn each article into a little gem. I've known a lot of pro journos in my time, and sad to say, no matter how much one might hope that their work would be a Spider Jerusalem-like labour of love, for the ones who make it a job it just ends up being a matter of punching the clock.

Which I suppose is a long-winded way of saying I've frittered away enough time today and it's time for me to get back into the trenches. But, really, look, it's like this. Some of you reading this seem to be under the impression that I've done one or two things which are actually vaguely important. Maybe that's true, maybe it isn't. The point is, everything I've accomplished that I've ever given a damn about has been a long hard slog. No matter how much I've loved it, there have been nights I've also hated it, wanted nothing more than to be working on something else, but I've gutted through and finished it anyway out of some delusion that it mattered for something. (Which is probably why I was never any good at homework, come to think of it.) The only way anything important ever got done was because somebody got up out of their chair -- or planted their ass in their chair, depends on what the thing in question is -- and did it. Here endeth the lesson.

But I still wonder what lessons people are learning.

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maradydd

September 2010

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