Dan Baum’s serialized account of his firing from the New Yorker is garnering a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The New Yorker is interesting, period, and Baum is an engaging writer.
But his side of the story is not the only one. Former Salon editor Scott Rosenberg speculates on the other side.
I really liked this bit, because everybody needs to understand it:
“The biggest disappointment was learning that, after all, it’s not only about the work on the page. That the writing life is not a pure meritocracy, or a refuge from office politics. All that crap still matters. Even at the top of the heap. Perhaps especially at the top of the heap. Who knew?”
My reaction to reading this observation is: If I were your editor and you ever said anything like that to me, I’d seriously consider firing you on the spot. No reporter can afford this level of naivete, and no editor’s budget should be spent on it. Reporters have to understand the world pragmatically, as it is, in all its mess and compromise; how can you trust a reporter who doesn’t even understand how his own profession works?
It’s not just reporters who have to understand the world pragmatically if they want to succeed.