This is how the people who bought the newspaper I used to work for in Fort Wayne are running things now:
On their birthday, Fort Wayne journalists get a little — and I do mean little — gift from Fort Wayne Newspapers CEO Mike Christman: It’s a $1.25 vending machine token.
This is offered via a three-sentence email, one of which is “Happy birthday!” The token isn’t even delivered to your mail slot; you have to come down to HR to pick it up.
I’ve worked with some cheapskates in my life, but this might be a cake-taker. People will cut your pay, trim staff, fire staff and basically squeeze until the people left fully understand the new reality, and then? Flip ‘em a few quarters and wish them a happy birthday. You can almost admire it.
My prediction: The management is hot on the trail of who leaked their birthday letter to Romenesko.
I don’t have much today, alas. It’s shaping up to be one of those weeks. But I do have some bloggage:
I’ve gotten back into the habit of checking in with Gin & Tacos regularly, and was struck by this piece. The writer, a college professor, notes:
Post-1980 America is a land in which it is impossible to engage in a discussion about a System with college-aged people without inevitably and almost immediately devolving into mini-soliloquies on Good and Bad choices. Why have so many kids? Why did he start drinking? And they signed a contract without reading the whole thing! Everyone knows not to do that.
This is what I mean when I describe college students, when I’m forced to generalize, as extremely conservative. They aren’t necessarily hardcore political conservatives in the context of Washington politics, but they have thoroughly internalized the message that their parents and the media have been hammering them with since birth: everything that happens to you is your fault. There are no innocent victims of anything. This is a coping mechanism / cognitive bias called the Just World Phenomenon, wherein people victim-blame as a means of coping with the random cruelty of the world. Rather than accept that horrible things happen to good people – and, thus, that a horrible fate could befall them at any moment – people choose to retreat into the comforts of believing that everyone Had It Coming.
I always call this “the distancing,” everyone does it, and the best you can do is be self-aware enough to know when it’s happening. There’s an element in it of the dust-up over Emily Yoffe’s rape-prevention advice. You saw it during Hurricane Katrina, where everything bad that happened in the Gulf of Mexico was because a) it was stupid to build a city there; and b) those people should have left anyway.
Anyway, an interesting observation.
I read this story in the Sunday NYT magazine, but I should have read it online, as the bells-and-whistles presentation of this account of international conflict in the South China Sea is truly remarkable. (Not recommended for slow connections or anyone using Internet Explorer 6, heh.) I was pretty outspoken in the ’80s and ’90s about not letting the design tail wag the content dog, but every so often it all comes together, and it’s worth the effort. If you want to know what longform journalism will be in the 21st century, look here.
Here’s a story by me; the tea party at the local-local level.
OK, I have to be off. Sorry for the late arrival. We’ll try to do better tomorrow.