Journalists aren't quite so blotched from pens and printers, now that the newspaper die-out has wiped out 50 years of advertising gains in a decade. With cleaner shirts, less paper, and worse pay, we're more like carpal-tunnel wretches. We're older on average than we used to be, slightly more moral, and far more lugubrious about the future of our profession.
Here is the state of the American journalist, according to a survey from Indiana University.
1. They're more liberal.
Like the rest of the country, journalists feel more comfortable identifying themselves as independents rather than shacking up with a particular party. But among journalists who align with one of the two major parties, four in five said they're Democrats.
Unambiguous proof of media bias? Perhaps. But this is a poll of all kinds of reporters and editors, not just political reporters. Plus, the rise of explicitly ideological media in the last generation, on TV and the Web in particular, makes the question of "bias" somewhat moot in many cases. If you're getting your news from a source you understand to be liberal or conservative, you're consuming the bias you're seeking. If there were a tremendous shortage of conservative journalists to fulfill the demand for more conservative news, this might actually be good news for those conservative journalists: It should make it easier for them to find a job and demand a high salary.
2. They're sadder about their jobs.
The size of America's newsrooms peaked in 1992, but since then the profession has lost a third of its workers, and 60 percent of journalists say their newsrooms shrunk in the last year. Even before the industry reached its employment saturation point, job satisfaction had taken a plunge, down from a high of 49 percent in 1971.
It might be a heyday for speed, data, infographics, and diversity of accessible media, but not all journalists are feeling the love. A clear majority think the Fourth Estate is headed in the wrong direction.
3. They're older (than you'd think).
America is getting older. Journalists are getting older faster. The industry's median age has increased from 32 to 47 in the last three decades, during which time the age of the typical American went from 30 to 37.
4. They're mostly guys—but that's changing.
The profession isn't getting much more diverse: 92 percent of journalists were white in 1992, and 92 percent of journalists were white in 2012. But the gender makeup is changing pretty radically. In 1971, journalism was 80 percent male. Now it's 62 percent male. And among newer journalists ...
... there are slightly more women than men. To be clear, this graph below shows years in the profession, not age. So while I think it's reasonable to assume that twentysomething journalists are the most gender-diverse generation so far, this chart could also reflect the fact that women are more likely to leave the profession early, either to change jobs or drop out of the workforce (e.g. to raise a kid).
5. They're very, very highly educated...
Journalists have long been more educated than the typical American. In the period that college graduates went from 11 percent to about 30 percent of the country, the share of journalists with a college degree went from 58 percent to 92 percent. (Editorializing side note: Do keep this in mind when you read journalists making the case that college is a waste of time. Maybe this is self-deprecating, or perhaps it even qualifies as a "lesson learned." But a profession where non-college grads are so scarce they practically qualify as endangered instructing the country at large to not go to college is a weird phenomenon.)
6. ...but not rich.
$53,600 as a median salary (for men) is not a pittance. It's exactly the typical household income, according to Census figures, and it represents almost 2X the median per capita income. It's also pretty much in line with a typical bachelors's-degree salary. But, like the rest of the country, journalism wages aren't keeping track with inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, a 1970 salary of $12,000 translates into a $72,000 for men today. Journalists' actual salary today is about 35 percent lower.
I've now written "for men" twice. For women, the median income gap in journalism is considerable. Women make $0.82 for every $1.000 earned by a guy in the 2012 survey. In 1970, she made $0.64. Progress, but not equality.
7. They're more moral.
Journalists in 1992 basically had no ethical code. Or, if they did have an ethical code, it was buried under their aggressively extra-legal instincts to get information by bribes, lies, and hidden microphones. More than 60 percent of journalists said it would be fine to get a job simply to expose the company (the '90s would have loved Edward Snowden) and 20 percent said they were fine with lying to sources or bribing them. Today, we're either more moral, less dedicated to The Truth, more scared of getting caught, or some combination of the three.
The president is surrounding himself with familiar faces from his favorite cable-news network—but may not find in them what he seeks.
Remember “bring in the grown-ups”? They have all now been carried off, with the sole exception of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Instead, Trump is staffing his administration and his legal team with familiar personalities from his preferred cable-news channel—much like an imperious child demanding that his crib be stuffed with his TV-cartoon favorites.
Now perhaps the most important West Wing job of them all is to be filled by John Bolton, a figure with an authentic background in government, yes—he held a recess appointment as ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006—but whose achievements over the past dozen years have been posted principally in the field of television punditry.
Before he was the national-security adviser, he wrote a lacerating account of generals who failed in advising Lyndon Johnson. What will he say now that he is free to talk about Trump?
“They have their exits and their entrances,” wrote Shakespeare, and so it is, as actors deliver frantic speeches while others leap, slide, or crawl on and off the stage.
Rex Tillerson said farewell to the Department of State much as he entered it: clueless about government service, clueless about his department, and clueless about his boss. He invoked the cliché of Washington as a “mean-spirited town”—as though executive suites in Houston were foreign to nastiness, and as though the capital were demonstrably short of the amiability that characterizes Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas. He could not accept the true diagnosis of his failure: that he had chosen to work for an immoral egomaniac who predictably treats his subordinates—and treated him—as shabbily as he has betrayed his wives and allegedly attempted to buy his sex partners.
Gigantic piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many Chinese cities, after a rush to build up its new bike-sharing industry vastly overreached.
Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots. Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts.
Data misuse is a feature, not a bug—and it’s plaguing our entire culture.
After five days of silence, Mark Zuckerberg finally acknowledged the massive data compromise that allowed Cambridge Analytica to obtain extensive psychographic information about 50 million Facebook users. His statement, which acknowledged that Facebook had made mistakes in responding to the situation, wasn’t much of an apology—Zuckerberg and Facebook have repeatedly demonstrated they seem to have a hard time saying they’re sorry.
For me, Zuckerberg’s statement fell short in a very specific way: He’s treating the Cambridge Analytica breach as a bad-actor problem when it’s actually a known bug.
In the 17-months-long conversation Americans have been having about social media’s effects on democracy, two distinct sets of problems have emerged. The ones getting the most attention are bad-actor problems—where someone breaks the rules and manipulates a social-media system for their own nefarious ends. Macedonian teenagers create sensational and false content to profit from online ad sales. Disinformation experts plan rallies and counterrallies, calling Americans into the streets to scream at each other. Botnets amplify posts and hashtags, building the appearance of momentum behind online campaigns like #releasethememo. Such problems are the charismatic megafauna of social-media dysfunction. They’re fascinating to watch and fun to study—who wouldn’t be intrigued by the team of Russians in St. Petersburg who pretended to be Black Lives Matter activists and anti-Clinton fanatics in order to add chaos to the presidential election in the United States? Charismatic megafauna may be the things that attract all the attention—when really there are smaller organisms, some invisible to the naked eye, that can dramatically shift the health of an entire ecosystem.
The original sitcom reveled in complexity. In the premiere of its highly anticipated reboot, though, it has simplified politics down to easy partisanship.
“We’re not going to talk about who the Conners are going to vote for. I think people would turn us off real quick.”
That was Roseanne Barr, talking to the Los Angeles Timesabout the politics of the original version of her hit ABC sitcom. It was 1992; the American presidential campaign, Clinton versus Bush versus Perot, was being waged; Dan Quayle was arguing about family values with a fictional journalist; Roseanne, though—the producer, the character, the star—was insisting that her TV family transcended both the vagaries of political partisanship and the messiness of the culture wars themselves. The Conners are “somewhere in the middle of it all,” Barr said, “not knowing what anything stands for anymore. So really what they do is go to work and come home to be with their family, and try to make do.”
Trump is replacing his national-security adviser with John Bolton, a persistent advocate of military intervention.
On Thursday, Donald Trump replaced a man who built the case for war with North Korea as a last resort with a man who just made the case for war with North Korea as more of a first resort. Trump announced that National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will be succeeded by John Bolton, the George W. Bush-era United Nations ambassador who has advocated for U.S. military action to prevent Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei, and most recently Kim Jong Un from amassing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea is an “imminent threat” to America because it is only months away from achieving the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to the U.S. mainland, Bolton wrote in late February in The Wall Street Journal. Therefore “it is perfectly legitimate” for the U.S. to defend itself “by striking [North Korea] first.”
The incoming national security adviser has advocated for war with North Korea.
It is only fitting that,within the same week the United States marks 15 years since the 2003 Iraq invasion, John Bolton has been named the president’s national security adviser.
Bolton advocated for another U.S. invasion of Iraq, following the first Gulf War, as far back as the 1990s, when he called on President Clinton to oust Saddam Hussein. Later, as under secretary of state for arms control, during President George W. Bush’s first term in office, he told the BBC the U.S. was “confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.” The evidence used to go to war in 2003 might have long been deemed mistaken, and some of the war’s most ardent supporters might have expressed second thoughts since then given the immense cost of human life and the destabilization of the region, but Bolton has maintained that deposing Saddam was worth the effort—even if the decisions made after the invasion weren’t always right.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is drawing attention to malicious data thieves and brokers. But every Facebook app—even the dumb, innocent ones—collected users’ personal data without even trying.
For a spell during 2010 and 2011, I was a virtual rancher of clickable cattle on Facebook.
It feels like a long time ago. Obama was serving his first term as president. Google+ hadn’t arrived, let alone vanished again. Steve Jobs was still alive, as was Kim Jong Il. Facebook’s IPO hadn’t yet taken place, and its service was still fun to use—although it was littered with requests and demands from social games, like FarmVille and Pet Society.
I’d had enough of it—the click-farming games, for one, but also Facebook itself. Already in 2010, it felt like a malicious attention market where people treated friends as latent resources to be optimized. Compulsion rather than choice devoured people’s time. Apps like FarmVille sold relief for the artificial inconveniences they themselves had imposed.
How sugar daddies and vaginal microbes created the world’s largest HIV epidemic
VULINDLELA, South Africa—Mbali N. was just 17 when a well-dressed man in his 30s spotted her. She was at a mall in a nearby town, alone, when he called out. He might have been captivated by her almond eyes and soaring cheekbones. Or he might have just seen her for what she was: young and poor.
She tried to ignore him, she told me, but he followed her. They exchanged numbers. By the time she got home, he had called her. He said he wasn’t married, and she doesn’t know if that was true. They met at a house in a different township; she doesn’t know if it belonged to him. Mbali, who is now 24, also doesn’t know if he had HIV.
She enjoyed spending time with the man during the day, when they would talk and go to the movies. But she didn’t like it when he called at night and demanded to have sex, which happened about six times a month. When she refused him, he beat her. For her trouble, he gave her a cellphone, sweets, and chocolates.
How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory
One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.
Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair. Yet religious conservatives who once blanched at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. We are a long way from The Book of Virtues.