The union is asking readers to not shop through Wirecutter during the strike, which is intended to end on Tuesday, spanning some of the peak online shopping days of the year.
Management is not happy. In the Times all-company Slack, David Perpich, whose title is head of standalone products, which means he oversees things like Wirecutter and the Cooking product — and whose grandfather is Arthur Ochs Sulzberger — posted a message saying that, while the institution understood the right to strike, management was “disappointed.”
Many Wirecutter staff realized early on that their Times colleagues weren’t as excited about their arrival, even as the then-CEO extolled at sale time that Wirecutter “embodies the same standards and values that are the pillars of our own newsroom.” But Wirecutter was always treated as a second-class citizen, isolated in its own Slack, its own offices, and its own reporting structure under Perpich. It never joined the newsroom, and its work was openly sneered at by some longtime staffers. Many Times staffers don’t believe their work is journalism at all. The pay scale, as well, is substantially different from Times salaries. Even Times fellows, which are yearlong full-time jobs in the newsroom designed to train emerging journalists, receive a significantly higher salary than the starting rate for Wirecutter writers.
The reason the union is asking readers to not buy through the site is that the company’s main revenue base has always been from referral fees from sales on sites like Amazon. Recently, Wirecutter has become part of the Times’ subscription offerings, and also, the future of affiliate revenue is always cloudy, as much of it depends on the whims of Jeff Bezos. Subscribers and their retention is the most important thing to the business side of the Times, according to its chief executive. Wirecutter recruited 10,000 subscribers in its first month behind the paywall.
To state what should be obvious, the idea that what the Wirecutter does isn’t real journalism is absolutely absurd. Careful research and informed judgment about consumer products is a very valuable service that requires a lot of work and knowledge to do well. And this would be true even before we get to things like how little the Times did to meaningfully inform voters during the election campaign that is about to result in the end of reproductive freedom in America. It’s long past time for these journalists to be compensated fairly, so respect their picket line.
The location of early coronavirus infections in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, suggests the virus probably spread to humans from a market where wild and domestically farmed animals were sold and butchered, according to a peer-reviewed article published Thursday in the journal Science that is the latest salvo in the debate over how the pandemic began.
The article, by University of Arizona evolutionary virologist Michael Worobey — a specialist in the origins of viral epidemics — does not purport to answer all questions about the pandemic’s origins, nor is it likely to quell speculation that the virus might have emerged somehow from risky laboratory research.
Worobey has been open to the theory of a lab leak. He was one of the 18 scientists who wrote a much-publicized letter to Science in May calling for an investigation of all possible sources of the virus, including a laboratory accident. But he now contends that the geographic pattern of early cases strongly supports the hypothesis that the virus came from an infected animal at the Huanan Seafood Market — an argument that will probably revive the broader debate about the virus’s origins.
Why so many pundits got so invested in pushing the “lab leak” theory despite the lack of actual evidence for it is something I’ll never really understand.
This “story” really showed the problems with the pundit class: a few people were pushing it for transparently political reasons (Trump was right, racism is okay, we need massive defense spending to fight China, etc.) but then a bunch of people decided to show how clever and open-minded they were by treating it as if it was in good faith, allowing their reputation to be used for further coverage since it couldn’t be partisan if they were taking it seriously
As a reporter, it’s my duty to talk to voters about the issues that drive their votes. I was curious about the recent upset election of Glenn Youngkin and wanted to talk to some suburban moms in Fairfax County, VA about what made them swing to Youngkin. The answer I got may surprise you. They are, to a person, extremely upset about the explosive resurgence of Rob Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice.
It’s easy to scoff at this answer. Sure, Vanilla Ice is at best a D-list celebrity who appears exclusively on novelty shows on novelty networks. But these Cheddar Jack Cheezit-ass moms are dead serious about Vanilla Ice appearing in Oscar-nominated films like “Cool As Ice (1991)” and how this media takeover is influencing their kids.
Take Karen Beckee, for instance. A longtime local Republican operative I MEAN swing voter, she says she’s deeply concerned about her son’s education. I pressed her on what she meant by “education” and she said, “My son is is coming home with nothing but Vanilla Ice lyrics on his lips. He thinks he doesn’t need an education. He thinks he can craft one banger of a rap song that’s easily digestible to white people and coast on that for 30 years. It’s disgusting.”
Karen went to say she was frustrated by her inability to combat Vanilla Ice’s animal magnetism and that his winning People’s “Sexiest Man Alive 2021” award hadn’t helped. When I pointed out that Paul Rudd had, in fact, won this year, she punched me in the face. And I thanked her, because I realized I needed to approach her fears with an attitude of understanding and humility.
Elites of all stripes, but especially the kind that are upper-middle-class academic types, dismiss these issues at their own peril. Sure, this is a completely made-up, weirdo, bullshit, astroturf campaign, but these moron moms must be appeased. Don’t wanna? LOL, have fun losing elections.
It was yesterday, just yesterday, I read about the events that occurred there over 100 years ago. I attended respectable public schools, I went to two well-funded undergraduate universities, and I took courses in American history. I come from a blue-collar family with a deep devotion to unions and labor, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, land of the Wobblies, and was informally schooled in union history. I’ve long known who Joe Hill was. But Elaine, Arkansas? What was that about?
Well, as I learned only on 15 November 2021, just by chance, that in 1919 a group of black farmers, sharecroppers, met in a church to organize, form a union, and get better prices for their crops and hard work. Since this was intolerable to the wealthy white landowners who got rich off their labor, and since it was easy to inflame the poor whites in the region against their black neighbors, what followed was four days of slaughter.
When white leaders heard, they reacted with violence. Newspapers reported that white mobs, over four days, chased Black men, women and children, slaughtering them in Elaine and across the green farms and swamps of Phillips County.
All the Black farmers wanted were fair prices, but “that’s like the revolution has occurred because that threatens to shift the entire power structure of the South in the favor of Black farmers,” said Dr. Paul Ortiz, a history professor and director of the University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.
Historians say the massacre claimed five white lives and more than 200 Black lives, though the true number of Black deaths is unknown and some estimates put it much higher.
What? Furthermore, this was one incident in many which occurred over Red Summer, which I’d also never heard about. There were riots all across the Midwest and South, from Chicago, IL down to Port Arthur, TX. White people were rampaging. And I knew nothing about it.
Yesterday was humbling. I had no idea how ignorant I was. Sure, I’d heard of the Tulsa Massacre in 1921, but did not realize it was part of a vast evil wave of vicious, blatant racism.
But how? How could such horrific events by quietly buried?
White newspapers filled their front pages with sensational headlines about a Black uprising, ignoring the economic inequality at the core of the conflict.
As the U.S. has reckoned with its racist past, the 1919 Elaine Massacre — one of the deadliest acts of violence against Black people in American history — has drawn new attention, especially in the years surrounding its 100th anniversary. That year, hundreds of Black people were killed in at least 25 cities across the country, a violent siege today called “Red Summer.”
The cover-up orchestrated by Elaine’s wealthy white landowners and the government, aided by the white-centric reporting of white-owned newspapers, led to a scarcity of information about the massacre.
Headlines such as “VICIOUS BLACKS WERE PLANNING GREAT UPRISING” and “NEGROES HAVE BEEN AROUSED BY PROPAGANDA” were atop the front pages of the Arkansas Gazette on Oct. 3, 1919, and Oct. 4, 1919, respectively.
“NEGROES HAD PLOT TO RISE AGAINST WHITES, CHARGED,” read the front page of the Arkansas Democrat on the third day of the massacre.
Surely, the impartial American justice system would levy righteous retribution on the mob? Nope.
Despite the work of the Black press, white newspapers continued to perpetuate their false story. After hundreds of Black people were massacred, no white people were tried in their deaths.
Black people were rounded up, jailed in Helena and tortured until they confessed a role in the deaths of the five white people — part of a legal cover-up concocted by a committee of wealthy white farmers and businessmen appointed by the governor.
In the end, estimates range between 65-75 Black men were sentenced to long-term prison sentences and 12 were sentenced to death. A years-long legal battle fought by the NAACP resulted in two cases, one of which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (Moore v. Dempsey) while the other went to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The high courts agreed that the men’s due-process rights had been violated, and none of the 12 were executed.
Now I think of all the black people murdered in recent history, and it’s clear — this is the arc of our history. George Floyd could be murdered by an armed white thug on the most trivial of pretexts, and the press tells us that Floyd was “no angel”. Trayvon Martin can walk out to buy Skittles and come home to be shot to death by a vigilante…and we hear that he was “no angel”, either, and his murderer is acquitted. It’s all the same story, told over and over again, and echoed and reinforced by our incompetent, unprincipled media.
And so it goes.
Today, of course, the Republican party is animated by a fanatical desire to paper over our shame, to keep our kids ignorant of the systematic injustices perpetrated in this country by whiteness and white people for centuries. I also am the beneficiary of the historical crimes that bled black and brown people to give me some relative prosperity, but I have no desire to close my eyes to it — I want to know. It’s the only way we can end this cycle of oppression. All these complaints about CRT are nothing but attempts to blind us to the truth, and keep the hate going.
God damn it, I’m 64 years old and the media has succeeded in keeping me in the dark almost my entire life.