Last Friday, we ran a report about poor wages and business practices at Vice Media. Many cast this as a "fight," or took it as an opportunity to choose sides. That's fine. We're used to that. There was one response, however, that we simply cannot let stand.
This was the response of the high priests of journalism at Northwestern's Medill journalism school, one of America's most prestigious and respectable journalism schools, where, for just under $100,000, they teach students how to be real journalists, not some garbage-slinging internet dirtmongers. Writing on the extremely (self-)important Medill Watchdog blog, under the extremely (self-)important headline "Our vote: Responsible journalism, appropriately paid," Prof. Rick Tulsky explained the correct way for real journalists to feel about our reporting:
Like many, we've been intrigued by the snarky dispute between Gawker and Vice, which began last week with Gawker writing how many Vice employees are underpaid, and ramped up when Vice responded. We know nothing of the details, but offer two relevant points:
"We know nothing of the details, but offer two relevant points." - A real journalist.
1. Attack journalism based on anonymous quotes, especially from former employees who may have an axe to grind, is inherently less reliable.
Please follow this argument closely. POINT ONE: Gawker's factual report about true things amounts to "Attack journalism" which is "inherently less reliable." (Than what? Than the Medill Watchdog Blog, I suppose.)
2. If the response to paying editorial people less than $30,000 to live in NYC is: "it's competitive," well, that's a bad answer. Journalism is hard work, and is best done by skilled, responsible and dedicated people. And while we applaud parental leave and life insurance, vacation pay and a summer Friday's program, none of that should come instead of a decent starting salary. At Vice, or anywhere else.
POINT TWO: Although "we know nothing of the details" of this story, and we have already dismissed this story as mere "attack journalism" of doubtful reliability, we will now offer an opinion about the issue of compensation in journalism that is based on the reporting in the story that we just denigrated.
For more true reporting about Vice Media, stay tuned to Gawker.com. Or, if you prefer, you can try your luck with the Medill Watchdog Blog.