Did you get up at 4 a.m. today? And are you THIS EXCITED for today's initial unemployment claims figures? Or do you want to read about someone who is? Meet Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal, the subject of The New York Times Magazine's "wow this person and his crazy work hours" profile.
Binyamin Appelbaum's profile of Business Insider's star blogger hits that sweet spot between media gazing, implicit insanity gauging, and soft-focus praise--meaning it's perfect fodder for journalists and bloggers who now can point out to everyone (especially their moms) that they do work so hard (so hard) and for laypeople to understand that yes, bloggers must be driven by some kind of higher spirit to want to pursue this type of life. Per Appelbaum, Weisenthal starts his day at 4 a.m., checks Twitter the minute he gets up, sleeps nowhere close to the eight recommended hours, to write for what Appelbaum kindly describes as "earnest version of Gawker or an unabashedly capitalistic Huffington Post." (Good week for Business Insider, incidentally: Its founder and editor-in-chief also wrote New York Magazine's cover story on Facebook.)
Appelbaum's profile echoes The Atlantic Wire's own media diet with Wiesenthal (the takeaway: he reads a lot), and it's also interesting in that it reads like an update of the Times' obsession with, ahem, business insiders: In 1999, before the first tech bubble burst, The New York Times Magazine's Matthew Klam profiled a day trader getting up at 6 (ha!), turning on CNBC, reading USA Today, and something called the Internet Stock Report.
But back to Weisenthal. As we mentioned, Appelbaum kindly glosses over numerous "The REAL REASON" headlines, the hyperbolic armageddon-like predictions, and stuff like Weisenthal's boss copying and pasting a Wikipedia article and calling it a post. But the profile doesn't exactly let Weisenthal off the hook either. As it seems like he's getting up very early, is working very hard to be ummm ... wrong.
It helps that in Weisenthal’s line of work, being wrong doesn’t hurt much. Writing about the markets is like playing fantasy football; it’s a simulacrum of Wall Street. Weisenthal’s money is not at stake; investors aren’t paying him.
Weisenthal embraces this freedom. He will make the same prediction repeatedly, crowing when he’s right and shrugging it off when he isn’t. Earlier this year, he wrote several times that a major stock index, the Standard & Poor’s 500, was about to post its first big loss of the year. When it finally happened, he hailed the successful prediction without reference to its less-fortunate predecessors.