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Ezra Klein’s death of journalism

Ezra Klein just posted a response to Felix Salmon’s reality check regarding journalistic careers. In it, he offers journalists some positive tips on making it in the journalism business. Sadly, his argument boils down to “hard work is a successful strategy”.

All the president's men
Can you believe the shit he’s saying, Bob?

It’s a classic example of the knee-jerk ‘just roll up your arm-sleeves’ reaction so often trotted out by brigades of work-ethic defenders.

To tell aspiring journalists, who often get paid close to minimum wage, and work in a profession where exceptionally long hours are the standard, not the exception, that they’re not working hard enough, is simply a dick move.

Journalists aren’t paid by the hour these days. Nor are they paid anything close to a reasonable wage per letter, word, paragraph, line, column, or whatever bean-counting, Taylorist indicator of output their bosses have decided upon.

Klein’s solution is to tell these kids with essentially no bargaining position to put in ever more hours for the same meager pay. To take part in an even faster race to the bottom in hopes of some vague pay-off in the distant future.

The simple fact is that a meager increase in your relative hourly productivity is not going to change the fact that you and your colleagues (or is that competitors, according to Ezra Klein?) will collectively keep making shit money.

Despite this well-meaning advice, the simple fact is that there’s no proper living to be made in journalism.