Why journalism never understood the truth of science: The New York Times does the same thing I did twenty years ago, just unscientific and with ego.

For those of you who have read this site, you know how I discussed various empirical experiments I did when I went into journalism in order to study it.

I studied the rejections I received during that time, and I chronicled that escapade in various posts, including this one.

And this one.

I also did a Story Studio offering as well.

The New York Times decided to venture into rejections, but with very telling, if unscientific results in this piece of perky, egocentric dreck:

I Got Rejected 101 Times

Being told no is inevitable in most creative endeavors. But maybe I could win by losing.

That it is written by a comedian isn’t here nor there, but the content considering the venue leaves much to be desired:

As 2018 began, though, I felt empowered by the knowledge that turning my failures into accomplishments would mean I’d be gaming the system. Both acceptances and rejections would count as a sort of win, and I liked those odds.

In pursuit of 100 rejections, I put myself forward for opportunities I’d previously thought were for smarter, funnier, cooler people. And sometimes I wasn’t rejected. I wrote for new publications, got a joke-writing gig on my favorite comedian’s radio show and interviewed guests on my podcast who I’d thought wouldn’t waste their time on me. At a stand-up show this fall, a peer told me the thing every comedian wants to hear: “I see your name everywhere! You’re killing it!”

This is the typical let’s-look-positive-on-the-negative that got the profession into trouble, an the adding pop psych touch of Angela Duckworth didn’t give the piece any value (and I had to do the same test for my class because this it required a me-centred thought process to evaluating your abilities, etc.); it was gratuitous, and it is one of those things you slap on to eke out an opinion piece that isn’t totally self-indulgent, which is fine for a blog post, not fine in a journalistic product.

What this piece happens to be is a patriarchal me-centred narcissistic narrative with no empirical or informational value: who hasn’t had their own personal narrative of getting many rejections, and persisting in spite of them? Whoop-di-fucking-do.

But that the chose to publish this piece says a lot about why the profession collapsed: it sees nothing wrong with patriarchal me-centred narcissistic narratives instead of you-focussed empirical facts.

What they should have been doing all along.

What is the difference? Let’s take a journalistic staple to explain it: the Christmas/Thanksgiving stories that take place in a food ban or a homeless shelter to show how (a) the media outlet notices such dispossessed people, and (b) how there are concerned citizens who volunteer to help those unfortunates.

That is a pure me-centred narcissistic narrative with no empirical or informational value. It is virtue-signalling at the expense of poor, broken-down people.

That may be cold-hearted bullshit, but it is not objective or rationally-gathered information.

The narrative is selfish. The focus is also selfish. The homeless people are cannon fodder and a plot-device to give an excuse to praise people who are not homeless.

What would be a you-focussed empirically-gathered piece with actual utility?

Simple: today, a total of 5671 came to the shelter for sustenance, up from 5290 people last year. The sheltered spent/gave fro donations $2.67 per person. The shelter’s funding comes from several sources (see Appendix A for sources, amounts, YTD changes). The head of the sheltered earned $125000. We interviewed every person who walked in, and in the following section, they described how it is they became homeless, the resources they had used prior to their homelessness, and the programs and supports they use now. The section after that are the responses from various government officials about what they have done, how much was spend, who oversees the implementation, and what they are planning to do. Appendix B shows their previous year’s responses for a direct comparison. We also looked at the food to see expiration dates and nutritional value of each meal, and Appendix C discusses with various nutritional experts on whether this is sufficient for people living in the elements where their immune systems are challenged.

Not as fun as cheering the little Middle Class people for volunteering, but more instructive.

The fact that we don’t have journalistic focus on what counts speaks volumes.

We have things that shouldn’t be published in those venues because it sounds clever, when it is the same old patriarchal stories repackaged. The hold doesn’t break.

When I studied my rejections, I did it by charting those rejections to circulation figures, editorial firings, publication closings, and the like. I plotted the careers of editors who gave the yays and nays, for instance to see if there were patterns to their responses (there were, and several of them).

Unfortunately, I only had my own acceptances and rejections to work with, but I still had reliable and valid data that had both predictability and utility. If I had access to other responses, I would have had a motherlode of viable information about the profession.

But the Times always misses opportunities to actually see reality. They like their narratives and their egocentrism, and have polluted their paper with both for decades…