In a post a few hours ago about the Times's 32 reporters in Beijing for the Olympics my colleague Hamilton estimated that each reporter sent to cover the event was writing one story per day for an average of two weeks. Industrious! But somewhat akin to estimating that smelting everyone's rusty pots and pans in the backyard is going to yield a dominant steel industry. Reporters need to get over their jet lag! Collect their thoughts, and convert them from hackneyed touristy "Ha ha ha they weren't kidding about that smog!" thoughts into publishably learned-sounding "Smog? You should see it when the GDP is in working order!" ones! A more realistic Olympics output has been generated by Gawker's favorite media gay couple, Timesman Andrew Jacobs and his freelancer boyfriend Dan Levin, who have in two or three weeks in the Middle Kingdom…Two stories, a man on the street scene piece about…uh, men on the street, and one piece about foreigners who live in nice houses that resemble the old houses that average Chinese used to live in before they were all bulldozed except they are nice and that's why they get to stay. We checked out some other people we knew in China, including our Times reporting friend Nick Confessore, who is actually in town on vacation, and reports on Facebook that he recently ripped off the idea of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti and climbed the Great Wall, which was "more effective against the Mongols than against the Japanese." (Not to mention opiates and naval warfare! ) Our former Beijing correspondent friend professed to be "not doing much of anything," saying she'd write more when it was more timezone-appropriate. Oh yes, and Gawker legal counsel Gaby Darbyshire is in Beijing right now, "doing a deal." Sure. Finally we received this email from a friend at Paris Review who is also in Beijing:
I'm on vacation here. I've met a whole lot of people—Americans especially—who've left me asking, What exactly are they doing here? Unfortunately, almost none of them are reporters. My guess would be that those reporters who are here are trying to see as many events and drink in as much Beijing life as possible while filing just enough copy to make their airfare seem worthwhile. Or at least that's how I'd handle it.
So there you have it. Most journalists in Beijing right now are just adjusting to the air, seeing the major sites and enjoying the company of their loved ones while sniffing out the emerging superpower, and they've chosen the Olympics as the moment to do it because it sounds sort of "work-y" and it's the last time they'll have so many other clueless white people around to make them feel less ignorant without being forced to wear matching hats. With Manhood Intact, Not Sauteed, I Conquer The Great Wall [Sun-Times]