Nerds Dislocate Shoulders Throwing Hands Up for NYT Job

There can only be one

Happy people friends hug cuddle set, diverse woman man standing together, couple hugging
Mr. & Mr. Smith

When New York Times media columnist Ben Smith announced that he would be leaving his high-profile position for an undisclosed new media venture with another Smith (Justin, of Bloomberg Media, no relation), his fellow journalists breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, they thought, those “200 million people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience, but who talk to each other and talk to us” will be treated with respect. Also, perhaps they wanted his job. At least some did; they said as much to Off The Record for its Friday newsletter.

Smith (Ben, not Justin) has been characteristically mum about his new project. Take, for example, this exchange in The New Yorker, after writer Clare Malone called him up to discuss it:

Would it be like a subscriber-based, paywalled kind of thing?
Again, I think it’s just premature to talk about.
And is it more like a newspaper or more like a magazine?
Is it more like a newspaper? Come on!
That’s a serious question. I have no idea what this is.
Yeah. I think it will be primarily digital.

Smith’s would-be replacements have been less mum. “A lot of people would be excited if I got hired as a media columnist,” media writer Karen K. Ho told Off The Record. Popula’s Maria Bustillos added: “I admit the thought immediately crossed my mind, as I’m sure it did the minds of many of our colleagues.” New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz was more restrained: “I feel like I have the best job in media already. Unless they want to give me a huge raise, in which case, I’ll take over any column.”

Some key excerpts:

Karen K. Ho:
“My experience doing media reporting quickly showed me that when people think of media reporters, they don’t think of people who look like me,” she said. “Even with the support that I have from people like Erin Overbey or Margaret Sullivan, I think I am too many other things: I am an immigrant, queer, Asian woman, with non-obvious disabilities.”
“We have to remember the way that Ben Smith got the job wasn’t even the normal way that someone like me would,” she continued. “They didn’t have to rally people that they knew in and outside of the company to be like, ‘You should really strongly consider Karen.’ Ben was offered the job over lunch. That just doesn’t happen for people like me. It really doesn’t.”
David Simon
“Interesting question, but I am up to my ass in deadlines and can’t think straight on work I owe.”
Dean Baquet
Baquet didn’t comment for Off The Record’s piece, but Lorenz weighed in: “That would be so interesting,” she said. “One thing I loved about Ben is — because he was an editor himself and he’d worked at a really senior level of media organizations — it was interesting to hear the way that he would frame stories. He was just so in the know. So it would be cool to get someone else like that.”

The list of potential recruits surveyed so far range from plausible (Wesley Lowery) to unbearable (Simon) to unbearably on-the-nose (Baquet). But if the New York Times H.R. department is looking for inspiration, we have some humble recommendations:

Adam McKay

This guy has a lot of thoughts about the media, as evidenced by his latest feature film Don’t Look Up, which has also led him to say a lot of things in the media, like this interview with wherein he alleged the following: “It takes a lot of guts to raise your hand at that newspaper meeting and go, 'why don't we have a giant headline that says, 'Oh, my God, we're all going to die!'" Amen brother, let’s get you in those meetings.

Judith Miller

She already helped start one war, seems like she could pick a few fights in the media no problem.

Yashar Ali

I dunno, this guy’s been quiet for a while. What’s he up to? Does he need a job?

The Weeknd

Much like an objective reporter, The Weeknd has been getting very literal in his language.

Thomas Chatterton Williams

TCW once wrote about slapping his high school girlfriend in his memoir, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. In this way, he resembles former media columnist and much better writer David Carr, who wrote about hitting multiple female partners in his memoir, Night of the Gun.

Nick Kristof

Since his governor run is maybe a bust, he might want to come home.

Meghan McCain

McCain is a columnist at the Daily Mail, my co-worker Olivia Craighead’s dream job. Thus a move to the Times wouldn’t require too much skill acquisition on McCain’s part, and would open her current position up for a more deserving candidate (Olivia). Plus, McCain left The View over feeling that the “unhinged and disorganized and rowdy” work environment was unfairly biased against her conservative voice. At the Times, she’d fit right in.

Adrian Chiles

The gig’s his to lose.