Journalism legend Charles Pierce makes a great god damn point in a new interview: the idea that a good writer will automatically make a good editor is a farce. The journalism job ladder is broken. What is to be done?
This problem is endemic to journalism. Most people enter the field as writers; but being a good writer is no guarantee you'll be any good at editing, or at the business side. But there's nowhere else to be promoted! So up the ladder go writers, to the unfortunate great unknown. Let us try to imagine a better world, in which journalism could use employees based on their particular talents.
Ideal Education: Truancy; hoboism; a wisecracking, self-educated college dropout; or, at most, a philosophy major.
Personality Type: Introverted, socially awkward genius (for writing-heavy jobs); or, smooth-talking con man (for reporting jobs. There are always rewrite men).
Previous Experience: Rode the rails for a while; wrote a novel down in Mexico, but lost it in a Juarez poker game; small-time drug dealer gone straight; assistant librarian.
Next Job: Bartender.
Ideal Education: Ph.D. in Mathematics; Copyeditor's Academy certificate of completion;
Personality Type: a Rain Man-like grammar and language obsessive with a poet's soul and the ego-stroking abilities of a master politician—though free of personal ego. (This type is rarely found in nature.)
Previous Experience: Crossword puzzle constructor; lowly copy editor; writer (competent but not great); psychologist.
Next Job: Buddhist monk.
Ideal Education: Wharton MBA; Harvard Law; Barnard gender studies major, undergrad.
Personality Type: Stone cold hustler.
Previous Experience: Started up and ran a few wildly successful companies but money for money's sake just wasn't fulfilling, you know? I needed to know that that money was producing something worthwhile, like journalists who could pay their rent.
Next Job: Cub reporter
Job: Media mogul
Ideal Education: Tutored privately by Plato and Descartes, in the castle.
Personality Type: Gentle despot; kindly monarch; benign and loving ruler of all he beholds; enjoyer of false adulation.
Previous Experience: Papa gave him $1 million to invest with to "learn the market" at the age of 12.
Next Job: Dead guy.