I got a weird email this morning…
Hi. read your article about working at the Natl. Enquirer: am working on a story that involves it and would love to get your advice. Do you have time for a phone call anytime today or tomorrow?
New York Times
917 340 —-
212 556 —-
I’ve been interviewed a few times about my stint as a freelance copyeditor and designer at the trashy supermarket tabloids, which I wrote about in 2011 for The Huffington Post.
That’s because, irony of ironies, the staffers at the tabloids are forbidden from speaking to the media. Indeed, I’ve been banned from the place because I did exactly what they hound their sources to do: Reveal juicy details.
But I’ve never been asked for an interview the way Alessandra Stanley did – a 61-year-old veteran journalist. So I replied…
At first, I thought your email was lame spam – the lack of capitalization, the weird abbreviation, the poor writing.
So I Googled you and found a Columbia Journalism Review article titled Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.
I’m certainly not God’s gift to journalism, and you’re way up the food chain from me. But I’m seriously wondering if I should talk to you about working at the “Natl. Enquirer.”
I believe it’s hypocritical for journalists to reply “no comment,” so I’m open to persuasion. But I got to say, I volunteer as the newspaper adviser at a middling university you’ve never heard of – and if any of those student editors emailed an interview request like yours, I’d rip ’em a new one.
An hour later, she replied…
Sorry you feel that way. Never mind.
Stunned, I shot back…
Seriously? That’s it? You work at the freakin’ New York Times, and this is how you approach people for interviews?
Not surprisingly, that’s the last I’ve heard from her. Here’s another irony…
The reporters I knew at the trashy supermarket tabloids do a much better job of treating the people they want to interview.
If this is how The New York Times reaches out to its potential sources, it’s no wonder the public thinks journalists are sloppy and arrogant.
When I was a cub reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel — a Top 50 daily newspaper but certainly no New York Times — an editor told me…
“You’re the face of this place. Most of our readers will never meet a Sun Sentinel employee. You’re it. Act unprofessionally, and they’re going to tell everyone, ‘I don’t like that newspaper, it stinks.'”
The New York Times certainly doesn’t stink. But this morning, it smells a tad off to me.