Okay, here’s my advice to you (and young journalists in general):
1.) You basically have to be willing to devote your life to journalism if you want to break in. Treat it like it’s medical school or law school.
2.) When interviewing for a job, tell the editor how you love to report. How your passion is gathering information. Do not mention how you want to be a writer, use the word “prose,” or that deep down you have a sinking suspicion you are the next Norman Mailer.
3.) Be prepared to do a lot of things for free. This sucks, and it’s unfair, and it gives rich kids an edge. But it’s also the reality.
4.) When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.
5.) Also, keep the stories simple and to the point, at least at first.
6.) You should have a blog and be following journalists you like on Twitter.
7.) If there’s a publication you want to work for or write for, cold call the editors and/or email them. This can work.
8.) By the second sentence of a pitch, the entirety of the story should be explained. (In other words, if you can’t come up with a rough headline for your story idea, it’s going to be a challenge to get it published.)
9.) Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it’s more important to you than anything else in your life—family, friends, social life, whatever.
10.) Learn to embrace rejection as part of the gig. Keep writing/pitching/reading.
Read more about Hastings and his incredible career over at Rolling Stone.
Later, when Superman joins the fray, the movie turns into an orgy of gratuitous building-battering as Zod and Superman punch each other through several giant high-rises. It recalls a similar Metropolis fight between those two characters in 1980’s Superman II, only there, when Superman knocks a baddie into a building — an act that sends the skyscraper’s spire tumbling towards a crowd of people on the ground — Superman actually halts the fight to grab that spire before it lands, a quaint moment that still reminds us that the lives of innocent citizens are at stake. In Man of Steel, however, the superhero seems mostly unfazed by the people of Metropolis who are surely collateral damage to his big battle; similarly, director Zack Snyder seems to have waved it off. There is no acknowledgement that all of the buildings that are being destroyed might have people in them. It’s a bloodless massacre of concrete, 9/11 imagery erased of its most haunting factor: the loss of life.
Over at Vulture, Kyle Buchanan talks back to the major post-9/11 blockbuster trend of using massive, violent destruction of cities and faceless, nameless innocent bystanders as backdrop for superhero, action and various other Michael Bay-esque films. It’s a great takedown of the casual nature of the approach to destruction, where collateral damage is common and rarely fully acknowledged (how much of NYC died in The Avengers? how many died in the last Star Trek?). The connection to 9/11 imagery and the cheapening of the fear that accompanies the images of crumbling buildings in a terror-struck metropolitan setting is important, too.
(The point is not fully “ugh, violence in movies” although there’s that. It’s more about the fact the violence is actually largely ignored, unacknowledged and has surprisingly little long-term impact on plot. Once over, Earth or wherever usually seems to be restored. Just minus a few thousand or more people.)
The old adage is true — writing is rewriting. But it takes a kind of courage to confront your own awfulness (and you will be awful) and realize that, if you sleep on it, you can come back and bang at the thing some more, and it will be less awful. And then you sleep again, and bang even more, and you have something middling. Then you sleep some more, and bang, and you get something that is actually coherent. Hopefully when you are done you have a piece that reasonably approximates the music in your head. And some day, having done that for years, perhaps you will get something that is even better than the music in your head. Becoming a better writer means becoming a re-writer. But that first phase is so awful that most people don’t want any part.
I think you’re misunderstanding the perceived problem, Mr. President. No one is saying that you broke any laws. We’re just saying it’s a little bit weird that you didn’t have to.
While there has been due outrage about the news regarding the NSA’s Verizon surveillance program, there has also been a loud echo of Senator Lindsey Graham’s “I am a Verizon customer. It doesn’t bother me one bit for the NSA to have my phone number.” See this Twitter account for a collection of such reactions in the Twitterverse. These responses range from Senator Feinstein’s “It’s lawful” and “It’s just metadata” to “It’s a necessary means of protecting the nation” and “It’s been in place for a long time.” And finally, the oldie but goodie, “If you aren’t a terrorist, what are you even afraid of.” None of those are valid defenses of a program of this scope, particularly not when paired with the follow-up news of PRISM, the program that tracks online activity through partnerships with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Skype, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, and PalTalk, or the news that information gleaned from data collection has been shared with British security agencies.
Infringements and violations of rights don’t happen in a vacuum, they have real effects. Whether or not this is now ingrained practice and technically legal don’t make it good policy - either in the sense that it is an effective and appropriate way of maintaining national security, or in the sense that it has legitimacy, constitutionality or morality. As Cole and Dempsey note in Terrorism and the Constitution (a good read if you want to be paranoid but very well-informed), the American homeland security model has long rested upon the practice of assigning suspicion to particular ideologies and political affiliations and perceives advocacy and violence as ends of a spectrum. So, yes, people who aren’t terrorists certainly have cause for worry over what erroneous links might be drawn between nonviolent advocacy or political affiliations and perceived potential for violence and criminal activity.
And yes, this is metadata. This isn’t en masse wiretapping, but as Susan Landau, a mathematician and former Sun Microsystems engineer, points out in this Jane Mayer post over at The New Yorker, imagine all the information that can be pieced together with metadata. It’s potentially more dangerously informative on a larger scale than content mining.
As to whether or not this has been worth it, what is arguably a massive breach of one version of security (the 4th amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…”) for another, I refer you to @emptywheel’s Twitter commentary from yesterday: “Remember: Mike Rogers said the Section 215 dragnet justified bc ONE terror attack thwarted. ONE. In 7 years.” This is referencing Rep. Mike Rogers, the House Intel Committee chair, who cited one unspecified terrorist attack that he says the program thwarted. Sen. Rand Paul (yes, I know) in a Guardian op-ed today quoted then-Senator Obama on FISA in 2008…
We can give our intelligence and law enforcement community the powers they need to track down and take out terrorists without undermining our commitment to the rule of law, or our basic rights and liberties.
Yes. That civil liberties are in constant and inevitable tug of war with our safety is so axiomatic that it becomes the default explanation for rights and privacy violations. That understood tension between rights and safety seems to have been taken to mean that if a policy invades the privacy of millions, it must be working extra well. Sometimes rights are at odds with safety, to an extent, but it’s never so simple as a sacrifice of X amount of civil liberties for an equal amount of safety. Often, that trade-off is not worth it. Being asked (and by being asked, I really mean, being grudgingly told its been done for years) to trade this information en masse for limited evidence that harm has been prevented or could be prevented by these means is not a fair trade-off.
For some further evisceration of data dragnet, see The New York Times editorial from yesterday. They spare the administration nothing.
Short version of this blog post: I can’t believe I actually mostly agree with Rand Paul about something.
Within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.