Assholes of Journalism

August 22, 2008

In 2007, The Miami Herald hired recent college graduate Brayden Simms to launch a blog about frugal living, called “Heavy Thrifting.”

By now you’ve probably heard the story, which is like something straight from the pages of Kafka’s unpublished diaries.They hired Brayden, fired Brayden, and then re-hired Brayden to blog about the experience of being fired.

It’s said that great photography comes from being in the right place at the right time. It’s less often said that great writing comes from having the world play poker with your soul.

But it’s true. Brayden’s blog was a hit. His travails were featured on NPR, in New York Magazine, and at Gawker. His story served as a parable for all of us struggling to chart a course for our dreams in an uncertain economy, the creeping feeling that the jobs we trained for are disappearing and that we’re all living in an empire in decline.

His sharp writing, always subtle and understated and hardly ever snarky (rare for blogs), was a refreshingly honest take on the 400 blows it takes to find your way in the world. He brought irony and humor to the soul searching, resume-writing, and unexpected solicitations of “life-coaches” who offered to  help him structure his very public and twisted foray into unemployment.

Well, I learned today that Brayden has finally moved on from the Herald and “Heavy Thrifting.” Here’s his final post.

This transitional phase has been … trying. For nearly two months now I’ve been living in limbo, working a job I’ve been destined to lose, living a life I’d decided to leave. Each day has been a test in futility, toiling with no one watching, waiting for my new life to begin.

But now, with only one week left, I can finally see the light at the end of The Herald.

The Miami Herald is keeping his blog, though, with the same title, URL, branding, in a fairly tone-deaf attempt to capture on the fans Brayden brought to the column because of his endearing personality. That readers might continue to read the blog now is as likely as Shia replacing Harrison in the next installment of Indiana Jones. The editors brought the blog back to its original mission of chronicling the nickling and diming of young people with good educations, intentions, and jobs trying to keep their dreams, like a peach in a backpack, unbruised. Which is to say the original concept kind of sucked, and now it just seems like a novel pretext for the newspaper coercing its writers to make lemonade out of the very lemons they’re paying them. The replacements are interns, by the way, which is like being replaced by a cost-cutting machine.

At the top of the post is a picture of the new writer Brian McPherson, before his heart is torn from his chest by the man in the photo with the monkey helmet.

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