Who needs edittors?

feral cat
I am editorially feral.

I got email yesterday from an editor at The Washington Post asking whether I wanted to write an opinion piece picking and debunking five myths about Google. Well, I love The Post, so sure. I was honored. I sent them five myths and left work to start work on it. Then the editor responded wanting to change my myths before I’d written anything. Change my opinion? No thanks. I said that I no longer live in the civilization of editors. I’m a blogger. I can write my opinion anywhere: here, on Medium, on Huffington Post, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Tumblr. The editor said: “We are the Washington Post, we believe in strong editing.” This was not going to work.

Of course, I can always stand editing. You know that if you read me here. My editor for What Would Google Do? and Public Parts did wonders for me. I sought editing from many colleagues for Geeks Bearing Gifts.

But for a simple little opinion piece about Google? Why ask for my opinion if you don’t want it? Anyway, my little opinion hardly seems worth the effort. Indeed, in a time of dwindling, precious journalistic resources, I’m not sure we can afford the effort to edit — let alone write — such as that. And besides, who determined that the world needs five myths about Google made up and debunked? Who in the public asked for it?

This kind of thing comes from our content mentality: We have a section to fill. We will come up with the ideas to do that. We will find somebody to write it. We will edit it. A day’s work. Tomorrow’s another day to fill.

A service mentality in journalism would dictate a different job: We observe and listen to what the public needs. We determine what will answer that need. We will measure our success by whether that need is met.

I’m just not made for the former anymore. Neither am I made for the idea that we are primarily storytellers whose job is to engage–nay, entertain–the public. I’m not criticizing The Post or the editor who contacted me. They are doing exactly what good editors do: edit. Instead, I’m starting to try to figure out new organizations, structures, tasks, roles, outcomes, and metrics for what we used to call newspapers and newsrooms.

When I talk with places like Vox or Facebook, I see entirely new–and still forming–job descriptions built around small teams made up of product developers, project managers, designers, and developers who build services and products. They don’t edit, not so much.

Am I killing all the editors? Of course, not. I am envisioning completely new roles for them. In my social-journalism and entrepreneurial-journalism worldview, editors and journalists become links to, advocates for, and servants of the public. They see and translate needs into products and services. They support platforms, systems, and networks that bring coverage from many sources in many forms: stories, yes, but so much more because now we can do so much more.

So I don’t fit in the civilization of editors. And they don’t know what to do with a mangy beast such as me.

feral cat 2

:LATER: I’ve heard from folks at the Post who took insult at what I said here. I just want to emphasize that was not my intent. I wanted to jump off this moment to reflect on changes in our trade — its goals, roles, and organizations — and in my relationship to it. I’m the odd one here.

  • Guest

    If I were your editor for this, I would have asked for the details of what happened with the Post editor. Because you’re just basically asking your readers to take on faith that what the editor wanted was somehow clueless. Maybe it was, and the assignment sounds like it might be dumb (depending on execution), but we have no basis for deciding.

    Actually, if I were your editor, I’d make you rewrite this whole thing, or I’d reject it, because it’s just kind of a confusing mess. You aren’t deriding editors, but then you are, and you also think they should be product managers? Or something? “They see and translate needs into products and services” doesn’t actually mean anything.

    And “they don’t know what to do with a mangy beast such as me” is simply cringeworthy.

    • Robert Knilands

      Dan Mitchell vs. Jeff Jarvis — hmm. Hard to decide which horse to back here. Sort of like deciding between a car wreck or jumping off a cliff.

      • Guest

        But you pretty much already did that, career-wise, right? And then, public-reputation-wise, with your insane Internet behavior?

        (I have this guy blocked on Facebook. Why am I seeing him here?)

        • Robert Knilands

          I don’t know, Dan. User error on your part, more than likely.

          Also, not that it was much of a surprise, but I asked someone about your own career escapades. It was quite amusing, especially given how much hot air you’ve blown out during the last couple of years.

          While we’re chatting — did you ever get that newspaper delivery problem resolved? I know that item was deserving of a Romenesko post. Are you still piggybacking on his “work”?

        • Guest

          Why not share the details about what you found out from “someone” about my “escapades?”

        • Robert Knilands

          Because you’re not worth it, except to say that what you have claimed doesn’t match with reality.

          Even that doesn’t matter. You piggyback on Jim Romenesko, and then run around acting like the bully’s little pal. Your comments here are somewhat sensible, but because they come from you, I remain skeptical.

          How’s that blocking effort going, Danimal?

        • Guest

          Obviously not real well. How’s that running-around-the-Internet acting-like-a-nutcase effort going?

          Not sure what you’re referring to there about what I have “claimed,” so I can’t respond to it. I’d be glad to, though, if you spelled out what the hell you were talking about. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

        • Robert Knilands

          You told me that you had done a number of things for several different places. Now I hear that while that might technically be true, you were usually one of the last-in, first-out types.

          Keep trying to master that blocking effort, Danimal.

        • Guest

          Seriously, get some help. I know this will fall on deaf ears, but you clearly need it.

        • Robert Knilands

          Sensitive to being called out for exaggerating. Sad. No direct response, either, likely because you have none.

          How’s that blocking effort going, Danimal? Maybe Jim R. can help you. “Help me, Jim! You’re my only help!” Those were funny times. When will you call on Jeff to save you?

        • Guest

          Yeah. Speaking of “direct response” — you’ve had like six chances now to spell out what you’re talking about. What, specifically, did I “exaggerate?” My resume, or what? If so, which parts? My LinkedIn is public, so feel free to use that as a guide if you like.

          Look, I know you have mental problems. But that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for your actions, since you’re not in a corner drooling on yourself, and can clearly work a computer. You’re aware, and have been told many, many times by many, many people. Get some fucking help. Seriously.

        • Robert Knilands

          I did use it. You claimed to me, 2-3 years ago, that you had done all of these wonderful things. Your LinkedIn does little to support that. You either lied or exaggerated.

          You get so defensive about getting called out. Let’s assume, for a minute, that you really have done all of the great things you mentioned. Why, then, are you running from site to site to call out writers? After all, you seem to have a big issue with others who do that. Wouldn’t you have too much going on to do that?

        • Guest

          I’m not defensive, I just don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re refusing to say. If you have some specific allegation you want to make, make it. Otherwise, I’ll repeat: you have some kind of untreated, very serious mental or emotional problem, and I hope you get some help for it, or your family intervenes, or something.

        • Robert Knilands

          The allegation is that you lied or exaggerated about things you had done. You listed off a bunch of places where you had allegedly worked. From what I hear, those were either very short-term gigs or free-lance gigs at best. So technically you might be able to claim you really did “work” for those places, but the sum total isn’t anywhere close to what you portrayed it to be.

          You run around from site to site calling out people, but whenever someone responds, you go sideways. It’s really very entertaining. As I said before, you’re Romenesko’s lap boy, nothing more.

          I’ll ask again — if you are really churning out work for all those places, how are you here and many, many other places — just based on a quick glance at your Disqus profile — starting all of these arguments? This is the first time I have bothered to respond to you at any of these sites in 2-3 years, so I am not sure what inane arguments you’re posting at those other places.

          The really funny thing is while you were exaggerating/lying about your background, you were also making accusations in the other direction, and all of those were shot down. It was again very entertaining.

          I hope reality intervenes for you someday. I imagine it will be shocking to you when you have to face up to your Romenesko co-dependence.

          Danimal, I’m going to keep adding to this until your tiny brain explodes. How many places on Disqus right now are you referring to someone as creepy? Looks like quite a few. You also like to play the “mentally deranged” card on anyone who disagrees with your rants.

        • Guest

          Well, I’ve been working for myself for more than a dozen years, so yeah, I freelance — in some cases occasionally, but mostly through long-term relationships with my clients. Is that what you’re talking about? If so, what the fuck? I wrote a weekly column for the NYT for three years, for example, and have written lots of other stuff for that paper, though I’m not on the staff there and have never claimed to be. I’ve also been writing regularly for Fortune for the past five years. If you told me what, particularly, I “exaggerated,” maybe I could help you. Because I honestly have no idea what “claims” or “exaggerations” you’re referring to (since you refuse to say) — though, as I have here, I have in the past made the mistake of getting bogged down with you with this kind of nonsense. I can’t imagine having any reason to address any claims about myself specifically to you — but if I did, I certainly didn’t “exaggerate.” I don’t really have to. You can search my name on any of the publications I’ve written for and see what I’ve done there.

          In case anyone else is as crazy as me and is still reading this lunatic thread for some reason, My Linkedin is here, and it’s 100 percent accurate: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/dan-mitchell/3/ab/202?trk=pub-pbmap

          As for “running around from site to site” etc. — sorry to have stepped into your territory. That seems to be all you ever do — all day, every day. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22robert+knilands%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

          And with that, I think I’d better walk slowly backward out of here. Yeesh.

        • Robert Knilands

          But you did make those exaggerations. I have the message. I simply don’t make a practice of posting private exchanges through social media.

          You claim all sorts of nutty things, though, especially on your LinkedIn profile. You’re a blowhard. You claim that you got some publication to see the light about some approach. I would call B.S. on that in 2 seconds. Your LinkedIn profile is a prime example of your disconnect from reality.

          Usually when I encounter people who persist with your type of nuttiness, they rely on one of two strategies: projection or disconnect from reality. You use both.

          In your warped world, you are somehow a great contributor to all of those publications, yet you then go to a swath of sites and tell people they are deranged, but then you are critical of anyone else who posts on a variety of sites.

          Warped world you live in, Danimal. ISU must be so proud that you were ever on campus.

        • Guest

          Ok, Robert. My LinkedIn profile is right there for people to look at and assess for themselves. I don’t really know what you’re referring to there, but I’ve persuaded managers at several publications to do things or take some approach. That’s what I do for a living, and I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be bad.

          As for “projection,” all one needs to do is Google you — your lifetime’s worth of enraged lunacy is all right there, with your name on it. And that’s basically all there is.

        • Robert Knilands

          Again — disconnect from reality. It’s bad because it’s so transparently false. Exaggerated.

          Projection — you’re going from site to site, telling people they’re lunatics.

          You rely on both tactics. Most warped people use only one.

          If you want to live in a fantasy world where you are doing all of these things you claim and setting everyone else on the right path, that’s your business. But when you start insisting your fantasies are some sort of truth that gives you the privilege/right to make erroneous attacks, as you did with me a couple of times, then I am going to laugh at you and ridicule you repeatedly.

    • Well, then, I’m glad you’re not my editor. That’s precisely why I like blogs. No editors.

    • woke

      > Because you’re just basically asking your readers to take on faith that what the editor wanted was somehow clueless.

      The editor wasn’t clueless – (s)he just wanted Jarvis to tell the editor’s story. Jarvis wasn’t interested, or rather, has alternative ways to tell his story, so he doesn’t have to tell the editor’s story.

  • Wow, snarky posts so far.

    Will Jarvis, I for one can understand, I think, what you are looking toward. It is like a lot of other fields where employees are needing to be re-purposed. Such as in the auto industry, reeducation is in process to make a “line worker” to being a “Robot programmer and or maintenance worker.

    On the other hand you are dealing with the Publishing industry such as Newspapers, Magazines and even Books. The structure, for the new way of doing things, ( of which you and others are attempting to define), will not be easy and those in the old way, will continue to misread you and your intentions. It will be a battle to change how it is going to be done, but it is a battle that needs to happen.

    As you can read, I’m not a journalist nor a very good writer. Since 1971 when I got in the Computer Industry, I was promised a paperless society. I’m still waiting! Damn, there are those that still do Faxes. Haven’t they heard of email and SSL.

    keep up the work, it will pay off in the end….

  • Thank you Jeff.

    I for one sorely need an editor. What I don’t need is a publisher. I hope we can find something else for the publishers to do, but please don’t disappear the editors!

  • Petr Misan

    Did you deliberately misspell ‘editors’ here to prove some point?

  • woke

    > I am envisioning completely new roles for them.

    Not really. “Editor” has always encompassed two very different roles.
    [1] Help the author produce the author’s vision.
    [2] Provide a vision that is implemented by the author.

    Newspaper editors as story-assigners are [2]. If you’re asking Jeff Jarvis for his opinion, you should be [1]. If you’re expecting Jarvis to tell your story, you’re trying to be [2] but he may be more interested in his brand than your channel.

    Maybe we need different words for the two roles.