A tipster tells us that Rachel Syme, culture editor at Tina Brown's Daily Beast, has sent the "world's worst email" in an attempt to get free research for an article she's writing. Let's read it!
Our tipster writes, by way of preface:
So I recently got this from a freelancer who now works at the Daily Beast. Believe it or not it is actually the most insidious and annoying email ever. Though it may not seem so prima facie, it in fact contains everything that is wrong with journalism and a particular type of freelance journalist. Where the source of the shittiness is unclear, I've annotated. Feel free to post but do not, per favore, use my name.
From: Rachel Syme
Date: Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 5:11 PM
Subject: Know anyone who has moved away?
Doing some canvassing for a story I am working on for a magazine  (if you want to know which one, I'll tell you when you e-mail me). In any case, it's a very respectable one.  Working on a piece about New Yorkers who, despite being tried and true, have left the city due to downsizing of their jobs or hopes...but intend to come back. People who are taking advantage of the recession and down mood around these parts to pursue a longtime passion elsewhere, and then bring it all back home at some point.  Do you know anyone?
And the promised footnotes!
1. Elision of the first person singular. Though Ms. Syme has taken the time to write this email and send it to hundreds of her contacts, she hasn't the time to start sentences with I. This stems either from the baseline assumption that of course she means I because everything is about her anyway or from insisting on a false sense of urgency and drama, because writing I is simply too time consuming. Related: False Amity.
2. Unnecessary Secrecy. Including this as a parenthetical aside, Ms. Syme infuriatingly presupposes the following: The reader of said email, who is being asked for a favor by Ms. Syme, wants to know badly exactly who she is writing for (as opposed to not caring). That though Ms. Syme won't share this information with hoi polloi, you will care deeply enough to email her to find out. Related: Universal Secrecy, the annoying habit of telling every friend, colleagues or acquaintance information of a personal nature and swearing each in turn to secrecy, often preceded by "Totally OTR."
4. Offensively Clichéd Story. All this is a preface to a request for sources for perhaps the most clichéd and already written recession story ever. There's only one thing worse that receiving these sorts of emails for good stories you wish you had thought of. That's receiving these emails about bad stories, you've already thought of, realized have been written elsewhere and that, out of pride and professionalism, you've spiked.
5. Urgency Shift. Ms. Syme, no doubt late in beginning her research [OMG, Fashion Week!] would like you, dear reader, to drop what you're doing and respond as soon as possible. We're on deadline here people!
7. False Amity. Ms. Syme, with 841 Facebook friends, is not just a professional contact, she'd like you to know. She's also your friend. Even if the only moments of contact come in a request for sources or of personal crisis. Also presupposes, you'd be deeply hurt if she didn't say hello.