The RSS Feeds Are Now Fixed

Thanks to our tech team. And if you click on the title bar of this item -- I promise, this is the last time I'll ask -- you'll see a comment I put on Ta-Nehisi Coates' site trying to explain what has happened to the "personal" pages, and why. That is all. 

From a comment on this current discussion at TNC's site:

This is TNC's neighbor, Jim Fallows, weighing in with two purposes.

The first is to admire the really dedicated and thoughtful community of readers, thinkers, contributors, occasional complainers, and overall online version of "civil society" that Ta-Nehisi has attracted and maintained here. It's a very important part of this site -- "this" meaning both TNC's blog and the Atlantic's broader presence -- and the recent change in web environment creates a moment to emphasize that.

How can I say that I admire this community, and still decline to have comments on my own site? The reason is an extension of my admiration for TNC's pruning, guidance, and maintenance of the community. I know from long web experience that, without careful and timely intervention, even the most stimulating commenter community will (almost) inevitably be disrupted by a vocal and disturbing minority of trolls, bullies, haters, etc. I know myself well enough to be absolutely sure that I cannot commit the time to tend such a community. (After all, nothing involving the web is theoretically any part of my real job at the Atlantic. I am very glad to have this outlet, but my day job is writing for, you know, the "magazine.") There are times when I may be on the road for a week and away from a computer. My position is like that of a childless person who admires attentive parents -- and observes them carefully enough to know that he's not well situated for that responsibility.* So keep it up; I admire all of you; but I know I can't create my own version of this community.

My second reason is to underscore what Ta-Nehisi says about this redesign, for better and worse. I have now literally spent the majority of my years on Earth as an employee of the Atlantic, and I could not be more loyal to the magazine, its heritage and prospects, my colleagues, and whatever it takes to keep this enterprise going. Therefore it's unusual for me to say in public that I think we've put a foot wrong. I do think that -- as explained at my neighboring site -- but I want to be entirely clear about the underlying reasons. No one at this company has had anything in mind except finding a way to maintain our standards of journalism in circumstances that always present new problems and new opportunities. This was an honest effort by a well-meaning and mutually supportive group of people to modernize the site, make the presentation of topics and themes more coherent, and also of course to make it more viable as a business. Everyone has quickly recognized that in the process we've created new problems for ourselves. The idea was just to make things better, not to screw up anything that worked. The point may seem obvious, but I wanted to say that I agree with TNC that this should be understood as a well-intentioned miscalculation rather than anything else.

With this, I return to my normal location -- which in practice means working on a "real" article for the next few days, while the look and feel of the blog pages are restored. Thanks for letting me visit.
* In real life, I'm someone who has felt fortunate to be married to the same woman since age 21 and to have two wonderful sons and, now, two wonderful daughters-in-law. I may not be "ready" for the responsibility of parenthood, but I've enjoyed the blessings of it!

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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