What Would David Carr Say?

Veneration is a series of choices

This is White Guy Confidence, Karen K. Ho’s newsletter about media, life, and how to avoid her mistakes. If you like it, you can access the online, shareable version (and subscribe) here. Karen is on Twitter @karenkho, and she also has a website. She appreciates your readership and when you share her work.

Who gets to have a career in media?

Media columnist Ben Smith’s latest work in the New York Times is titled “Is Ronan Farrow Too Good To Be True?” Takedowns are about power, and Farrow has won a Pulitzer for his reporting at the New Yorker about several prominent figures, including Harvey Weinstein. However, Smith’s column prompts a lot of questions.

Mr. Farrow, 32, is not a fabulist. His reporting can be misleading but he does not make things up. His work, though, reveals the weakness of a kind of resistance journalism that has thrived in the age of Donald Trump: That if reporters swim ably along with the tides of social media and produce damaging reporting about public figures most disliked by the loudest voices, the old rules of fairness and open-mindedness can seem more like impediments than essential journalistic imperatives.

First off, what the heck is resistance journalism? Is it advocacy? Reporting focused on social justice, immigration, systemic discrimination, corruption, or inequality? Historic Black newspapers?

In the documentary Page One, David Carr famously resisted the narrative the founders of Vice told him during an interview for the column Smith is now in charge of.

How do you determine is the “most disliked” or the “loudest voices”? Is this based on television appearances, online metrics, other kinds of news coverage? BuzzFeed News reports showed how trending topics can be gamed to spread political propaganda.

Editor Dean Baquet provided clues about the Times’ definition of “resistence journalism” when he told the BBC “I make it very clear when I hire, I make it very clear when I talk to the staff, I’ve said it repeatedly, that we are not supposed to be the leaders of the resistance to Donald Trump.”

It’s worth noting this interview was done before the US President literally told people to inject disinfectant during a coronavirus press conference, resulting in health organizations sending out public service messages warning against the ingestion of bleach and other household cleaners. A newspaper’s staff should also be leaders of common sense in service to its readers.

Smith acknowledges in the media column that Farrow and reporters at the New York Times itself both produced prize-winning reporting about Harvey Weinstein. The Hollywood producer was disliked but still had a lot of powerful friends even after he was outed for his multi-decade history of sexual misconduct.

Reporting on the media taught me the “old rules” of fairness and openmindedness aren’t even clearly defined among journalists within the same news organization. Like many things in the industry, including the concept of objectivity, it’s worth remembering these rules have largely been determined, upheld, and enforced by straight white men. These rules have also historically been unfair and closeminded to issues like civil rights, equal pay for women, and the AIDS crisis.

There are many additional criticisms I have of this particular column by Smith, including the idea of rigor in reporting that is not demonstrated through a simple comparison to Megan Twohey or Jodi Kantor’s methods, Ken Auletta effectively throwing his mentee under the bus, Smith’s stock options in BuzzFeed (which he discloses), or the insinuation the New York Times doesn’t or hasn’t published sources who are wrong or misleading to reporters. There are also many other serious issues in the industry that need additional attention.

If the point of Smith’s column is to raise serious questions about someone like Farrow and his rapid ascension in an industry that increasingly feels like it’s on the verge of serious collapse, it failed. Jezebel did it last October. Investigative reporter and former Wall Street Journal staffer John Carreyou pointed out Smith’s own glass house examples.

More than two years ago, Silvia Killingsworth published a well-written example of professional skepticism when she thoroughly detailed Felix Salmon’s astronomically high salary.

Then again, if you look at who writes media columns, and who does media reporting in America, it’s not hard to notice how homogenous the group often feels, both in who gets to do it and what is covered. During my year at the Columbia Journalism Review, I quickly learned what is considered important and who gets elevated for these opportunities. There are clear trends, and those people don’t look like me.

Smith’s column reminded me why I stopped doing media reporting. My deep interest, experience at Today in Tabs, and year-long fellowship at CJR weren’t enough to make me a serious candidate for a staff position reporting on the beat.

I tried to continue reporting the beat on a freelance basis. Even with pretty good sources and tips, it was tough trying to critique and report on the same places where I was pitching and simultaneously applying for full-time jobs. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was better off focusing on stories about business, economics, and culture.

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, my interest and studies in operations management and supply chains turned out to be far more valuable. I started a full-time job with Quartz after stay-at-home orders had been implemented across Canada and the US.

Several months prior, I seriously considered turning this newsletter into something devoted entirely to covering the media. My editorial strategy: provide practical information, exclusive reporting, and write up the advice I was already giving in phone calls, tweet threads, and emails to students and new freelancers.

Hamish McKenzie, one of Substack’s cofounders, was pretty encouraging, especially based on my existing bank of subscribers, my detailed list of story ideas, previous newsletter experience, and connections to other high-profile newsletter writers. He said I could charge $70 per year and patiently explained how I could market and promote the new pricing.

But several things stopped me from going forward with the idea.
1. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sign up enough people to make it worth the price, or that I could honor the same regular deadlines as many of the most successful newsletter writers like Nick Quah of Hot Pod, Nicole Cliffe, or Luke O’Neil.
2. Part of my brain that still considers me a nobody. Who would pay for my media analysis and reporting when they could use that money for other stuff, like The Atlantic, their local newspaper, or something like the Revlon One-Step?
3. Even the most successful paid newsletters (six figures in revenue!) don’t come with health insurance.

All of that, combined with my internalized pressure (fears?) for producing consistently high-quality work and the uncertainty of making enough money to cover all my expenses prevented me from making the switch.

I made the jump to regular employment only a few weeks before advertising also significantly dried up due to Covid-19, pulling away much of the media industry’s main revenue source.

On April 10, the New York Times published a report estimating 36,000 people in the news industry had been laid off, furloughed or had their pay reduced because of the pandemic. This is more than 10 times more people affected than what Maya Kosoff reported on for all of the layoffs that happened in 2019.

The Times report’s most recent update was May 1, but it already needs several additional entries after last week’s extraordinarily bad round of layoffs.

On Thursday, Quartz laid off 80 people, a staggering number of deeply talented people. Many of them were kind, generous, thoughtful, and astoundingly smart. Even though I still have a job, I feel a lot of guilt, distraction and helplessness. (I joined The Layoff Club in 2013.)

Conde Nast, Vice, and The Economist also laid off a lot of people on top of furloughs at newspapers across the country, and it was hard not to feel a sense of despair as individual staffers announced what happened on Twitter. The list below also doesn’t include the layoffs and staffing reductions at California Sunday and PopUp Magazine.

Maybe this degree of loss — during an election year, a massive global recession, and an ongoing public health emergency with more than 86,000 deaths in the United States alone — will be the subject of Smith’s next column.

Still, for all the emphasis on rigorous reporting and detailed criticisms of the New Yorker’s fact-checking process, seeing this was a real surprise.

PRACTICAL ADVICE: A lot of people are new to freelancing, thinking about it, or struggling with it. Here’s my pitch guide detailing my 7-part approach. You should also read and research the publication or news outlet to make sure they haven’t published something similar to your idea in the last year. Be specific! Don’t pitch topics.

If your idea passes this quick archive check, don’t delay sending it out of fear of rejection or anxiety! One time I waited too long and by the time I emailed my pitch to an editor, the publication was working on something related to the topic already.

And an important footnote courtesy of Rose Eveleth, the genius behind the podcast Flash Forward (in addition to this article on freelancing which I still found relevant eight years later):

What do you actually pack for a pandemic?

The things I brought with me (both in and out of my luggage)

This is White Guy Confidence, Karen K. Ho’s newsletter about media, life, and how to avoid her mistakes. You either previously subscribed to her TinyLetter or are a new subscriber. If you like it, you can access the online, shareable version (and subscribe) here. Karen is on Twitter @karenkho, and she also has a website. She appreciates your readership.

It is a very different world since the last time I wrote one of these newsletters.

For starters, I am in a different location. About a month ago, I (temporarily) left New York for Toronto. I wrote an essay on why for Bustle. It wasn’t because I was tired of encountering people who wore their shoes inside their apartments or walking into subway stations that smelled like they were sprayed with layers of urine. It wasn’t because the flight was only $66 USD.

Staying in the city would have meant dealing with the high cost of medical treatment when you don’t have insurance in the United States, New York City’s status as a significant hotspot of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. federal government’s disastrous response since January, as well as the growing amounts of racism towards Chinese and Asian people - including direct comments from the President and several Republican lawmakers.

All of those things have become significantly worse since the essay was published. It also covers a lot of what I’ve been thinking the last year in terms of how I saw my life headed, and how COVID-19 quickly changed a lot of that. With the ongoing declines in the media industry and the rising cost of living in New York City, it may have been TV-show levels of cliché to feel like I was finally building a life, a home, and a career there, but it was the truth.

Anyone who has moved a lot knows something is different when you finally start drilling holes in your room to put up art, and you stop thinking about how quickly you could pack up all of my belongings before going somewhere else again. On my birthday this year, I openly declared on Twitter I was willing to move anywhere for a full-time position, but I wasn’t excited about the prospect of leaving my friends, family, boyfriend and rent-stabilized apartment. A large part of me is tired of changing addresses.

My initial plan for the pandemic was to stay in New York and write about how I would help take care of my boyfriend’s elderly parents. I wrote a “Why I’m Leaving” essay because I wanted to help highlight how unnecessary and entirely avoidable it felt. And selfishly, I wanted people to know my decision was difficult and different than the rich New Yorkers who fled to second homes in places like the Hamptons.

Writing the Bustle essay also meant less time to pack and stressing about what items I should bring. These included a small amount of makeup, some fancy creams, a box of thank you cards, a wireless speaker, several journals, tax documents, a Totoro plush my boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day, and two pairs of extra shoes. A friend encouraged me to pack light, which meant not enough t-shirts. My luggage still weighed 45 pounds.

I brought along my grief, too. For several weeks, I didn’t have a name for the constant wave of overwhelming emotion that hung over nearly every day starting in late February. I had read dozens of articles about COVID-19 and wrote about the virus for FiveThirtyEight, Chatelaine and The Daily Beast. I felt a heavy sense of dread and helplessness about the lack of testing and medical supplies in the United States. So much of what I read indicated the number of American people who would become seriously sick or die would come as a surprise, just like in China, Italy, and Spain. I tried tweeting about it, which often felt futile, even though it helped put me on the radar of several new editors.

It has been difficult to focus, be productive or sleep normally. The deaths of two people I knew, and the knowledge there wouldn’t be funerals or services due to the pandemic, only added more fatigue. Both of the deaths happened while I was still self-isolating, which meant I couldn’t hug my mother when she cried either.

R.O. Kwon’s essay on grief in the New York Times finally helped me identify what I was feeling and why I struggled to write. But there was other stresses I brought with me from New York.

Even though many media companies were quickly switching to remote work, I was concerned my cross-border move would effectively torpedo my career aspirations. After a burst of additional determination to find something full-time and more secure during my birthday in mid-February, I had applied to several positions and had dozens more open on my laptop. Before New York implemented social distancing measures, my optimism seemed to pay off: I had serious conversations with at least four places about prospective editing and reporting roles.

A few days before my flight, I mentioned my plans to relocate during two phone interviews. One other opportunity seemed too good to be true, and I didn’t want to risk it by announcing my imminent departure. I didn’t know I was leaving the US before a massive wave of layoffs, furloughs, and freelance budget eliminations.

Quartz still hired me to become their global finance and economics reporter and I started last Monday. There was even a press release and a blog post on Talking Biz News. To say I feel lucky and thrilled to join the company during a historic moment is an understatement.

Several people, including my boyfriend, reminded me it wasn’t luck that got me the position. I had to do the work to become qualified, complete graduate school, survive freelancing, and not give up several times. It felt like I made a monkey’s paw kind of wish and benefitted from something that has hurt millions of people. But even with the surreal timing, I am deeply grateful. And I try to remind myself many people wouldn’t feel guilty or second-guess it at all.

The World We Live In Now: About two weeks ago I saw someone describe the act of reading news and updates on Twitter late at night as doomscrolling, realized I had been doing that for years, and started posting regular tweets late at night encouraging other people to stop. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times included it in an article about new words being used to describe the pandemic.

And while initial theories the pandemic might lead to a baby-boom were quickly shot down, this past week I learned even COVID-19 will not stop an ex (a past fling?) from messaging me on LinkedIn.

This person and I hadn’t exchanged messages in years and the last time he contacted me, I was in grad school, trying not to fail my electives. I tried to indicate I was not interested as best as possible.

If you’ve read this far, I feel like you deserve a reward. In addition to my strong continued recommendation for the sturdy and inexpensive MOFT.us laptop stand, here is a previously unpublished photo of me with a large fish taken out of a frozen lake in Northern Canada. I am holding it during the end of another very difficult year I only survived through the kindness of other people. Life has taught me it is best not to underestimate how much each of us can improve the lives of others.

When success is not enough

This is White Guy Confidence, Karen K. Ho’s newsletter about media, life, and how to avoid her mistakes. If you like it, you can access the online, shareable version (and subscribe) here. Karen is on Twitter @karenkho, and she also has a website. She appreciates your readership and when you share her work.

I’m often behind when it comes to consuming media, especially television, movies, and podcasts. But I often make time to catch up on This American Life and Longform. The former has massively shaped so much of modern documentary radio and podcasting, and the latter has helped define what is considered gold-tier work for many magazine writers, investigative reporters, and non-fiction authors.

A few weeks ago, Longform published an interview between Max Linsky and Nick Quah, the proprietor of Hot Pod. The interview is particularly notable because Quah talks about his experience moving to the U.S. from Malaysia, working at Business Insider, BuzzFeed and Panoply, and how he decided to devote himself full-time to his paid newsletter covering the podcast industry.

Quah is extraordinarily candid about his feelings of failure, how much he makes annually through subscriptions, his feelings about his unsustainable pace of work output, as well as how he balances covering news, providing analysis, as well as writing criticism and reviews. Surprisingly, Quah does not consider himself a reporter or journalist. And Quah is incredibly honest about his feelings on the physical and emotional distance he has from his family in Malaysia, as well as the alternate life he may have had as a barrister in London.

The interview is worth listening to for many reasons, including how it illustrates how achieving success in a new, unusual way can still be filled with anxiety and fraught with uncertainty. I think Quah also breaks a lot of expectations about how Asians and Asian-Americans are expected to act, while also being very funny and thoughtful.

Linsky, with all the energy of a mentor or kind older brother, frequently pushes back on Quah’s statements. This includes digging deeper into Quah’s decisions to leave New York, and then New Haven, to move to Boise, Idaho, as well as why Quah isn’t happy with what he’s achieved in a relatively short amount of time.

Quah responds to legitimate fears about possible medical costs, his immigrant background, his experience of being fired, and in an abstract way, a kind of ambition that isn’t overly concerned with impressing a certain group of media types in LA or New York.

I have listened to Longform for years, and consider Linsky a friend. Despite the meta-layers to Quah being on the show, I really appreciated the opportunity to hear more about someone I think is really underrepresented in American media: an Asian-American immigrant, annoyed with the current way things operate, trying to figure out a new path while also working with established names.

Listening to Longform is often a great way to learn writing and narrative techniques from leaders in these fields. It’s rare that I come away feeling less alone in what I’ve gone through, as well as hear discussions on tougher issues like trying to move on from a prevailing sense of failure.

Industry news: Yesterday, the American Society of News Editors released data visualizations on its latest diversity survey results. Notable things include the lack of participation from the New York Times, and the relatively small amount of improvement in large newsrooms in terms of increasing the number of journalists of color to reflect census demographics. Several newsrooms, including the Boston Globe, the Detroit Free Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are actually less racially diverse than in 2004. More than a dozen newsrooms had leadership staffs that were entirely white.

With the 2020 election just over a year away, a noticeable lack of journalists and editors of color means many media organizations across the United States will likely repeat the same mistakes as the previous election while covering communities of color as well as when the President or the Republican party refer to issues like immigration, refugees, and white nationalism.

Not everyone will survive

This is White Guy Confidence, Karen K. Ho’s newsletter about the stuff she’s doing, the things she’s reading, and her general advice about how to avoid her mistakes. If you like it, please subscribe, or tell a friend. She appreciates your readership.

There were mass resignations at Deadspin yesterday, the only sports blog I am a genuine fan of and regular reader. Several staffers quit a day after deputy editor and interim editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky was fired by the management of G/O Media, Deadspin’s current parent company, which had given the site a new mandate to “stick to sports” despite much of its most popular work covering politics, media, and culture.

Seeing staffer after staffer announce their departures on Twitter was like watching the Notre Dame cathedral fire broadcast live on television and streamed online. Deadspin and the large French church were both iconic things burning from the inside in real time before everyone’s eyes. Both gave me the feeling there was very little anyone could do to reduce the damage; all we could do was watch the flames and wait.

It takes a lot of guts and bravery to quit a job at a place like Deadspin, especially when the staff clearly love the work they’re doing, and everyone has a clear sense of purpose. The industry has laid off thousands of people in the last year, including major cuts at Sports Illustrated. Stagnant wages and high costs of living in cities like New York also mean many people simply can’t quit, especially if they’re a parent, just out of college, deep in debt, or supporting other family members. It can be a struggle to have any sort of savings, much less a Fuck-Off Fund.

The slew of resignations at Deadspin, right before Game 7 of the World Series, also meant even more great people are now on the market for freelance work and new jobs at the places that are still hiring and producing editorial. Every time there’s a mass layoff, there are encouraging tweets from other editors and peers about new opportunities - small silver linings in another gloomy storm. But there are not enough jobs for everyone who has been laid off or quit working for a difficult employer, and many people simply will not be able to stay in the media industry long-term.

Even when you have several freelance clients or a large network of contacts that are still hiring, repeatedly recovering from setbacks at this level can be both expensive and exhausting. This can be especially difficult if you are a woman of color, from a low-income background, disabled, or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people understandably move on to doing other things, such as communications, screenwriting, or jobs completely unrelated to writing or reporting at all, like being a lawyer.

What happened at Deadspin feels like an especially dark turning point in the North American journalism industry because of the level of people involved. Petchesky had been at the sports and culture site for ten years, writing more than 20,000 blog posts. Writers like Kelsey McKinney quit their dream jobs after less than six months. It was clearly a decision of last resort and incredibly short-sighted decision-making by management.

Before Deadspin was acquired by its current owners, it was a profitable, highly productive, and respected media organization. Advertisers flocked to it. Deadspin broke big scoops; published incredible features on culture and politics; and deeply devoted followings for its columns on food, cleaning advice, as well as the annual Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Christmas catalog. It survived the the Hulk Hogan lawsuit and Univision.

After Great Hill Partners arrived, it did not take long for Deadspin’s staff to look into how new boss Jim Spanfeller hollowed out Forbes and filled the top ranks of G/O Media with his friends. Then editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell, one of the most principled and admired editors I know, quit from the clearly toxic treatment from her new bosses. Her final note is still one of the most important and accurate things I’ve ever read about the media business.

The Wall Street Journal reported a recent move by management to sound-on autoplay video ads for a million-dollar Farmers Insurance campaign led to editorial staffers pushing back in Slack messages and public posts on G/O websites that the ads created a poor experience for readers. The Journal also reported the deal required a huge number of ad impressions, a target of almost 4 million per month, but emails showed the publisher’s media and ad operations teams believed G/O Media staff likely wouldn’t deliver those numbers. They were set up to fail.

It is unfortunately a pretty common experience in media to suffer under bad managers. The kind that misunderstand a staff’s capacity; underutilize the power of online journalism; contribute to a toxic work culture; as well as implement terrible strategies such as “pivoting to video”, “hyper-aggregation” and “only hiring white people”.

One thing I find really scary is the feeling that the media industry is now overrun by vampires and vultures. There were always horrible people like Les Moonves, Harvey Weinstein, and Clive Goodman in the senior ranks who frequently objectified women and mistreated junior staff. But in the last decade, hedge funds, Facebook, Google, traffic-hungry content farms, cable news executives, and mass misinformation outlets repeatedly incentivized short-term profits and huge audience growth at the expense of accuracy, integrity, and ethics. The same people get incredibly rich while everyone else, especially members of vulnerable and underrepresented groups, suffers.

I don’t know what the future of the media industry will be like, or even what my career will be like, six months from now, much less in five years. I think feeling sad, anxious, or angry are all entirely valid reactions to the Deadspin news. Anyone that says they know what the future will be like is missing the much bigger picture or lying. Anyone that thinks Deadspin deserved what is happening is in the same camp with a misogynist with a long history of harassing female sportswriters.

If the cratering of Deadspin is a serious crisis point, and I believe it is, there needs to be a much more urgent discussion about how to prevent something similar from happening to other media organizations and how to better protect the people it will likely hurt the most. Otherwise we’re all just going to keep experiencing this pain again and the vultures will win.

Resources: You don’t have to be laid off or someone who quit a bad job in media in order to benefit from the Freelance Solidarity Project, Study Hall and the Freelance Journalists Union. Study Hall also offers discount rates for journalists of color.

If you work in a newsroom full-time, unionize your workplace.
Start hoarding money for your own emergency fund.
Update your LinkedIn page.
Have a personal website with easily accessible contact information and your most important work.
I highly recommend the Journalists of Color Slack.
Book your holiday travel sooner rather than later.
Keep applying.

The long-term value of stories

This is White Guy Confidence, Karen K. Ho’s newsletter about the stuff she’s doing, the things she’s reading, and her general advice about how to avoid her mistakes. If you like it, please subscribe, or tell a friend. She appreciates your readership.

In the last newsletter, I wrote about how I shortened the window for stories to include in Significant Digits to 12 hours (sometimes two days for the Monday edition) due to how quickly details can change. There are so many interesting stories I read and come across that I can’t include in the newsletter as a result of this limitation. Writers, reporters and journalists spend time doing research, interviewing people, fact-checking, taking photos, and putting it online, and now I often feel like I discovered many of them too late.

(I can also tweet, submit them to Longform, save them in Pocket, and set aside time to read a few of them anyway, but all of those activities are unpaid or volunteer and my to-do list is bad enough already.)

The speed at which stories now fly through the news and media ecosystem is absurd. Every morning feels like a barrage of notifications and updates: local news, international news, impeachment news, natural disasters, another mass shooting. Plus you have all the other headline stories from business, science, culture, and sports. The New York Times publishes something like 250 stories a day.

But then I read a news feature on Ooloosie Saila, an artist from Cape Dorset whose work is rightfully gaining attention and sales. The 3,300-word story by Canada bureau chief Catherine Porter is supposed to be an example of resource-intensive slow journalism; a rare opportunity to take a big-picture look at an issue like how one of the country’s most isolated communities can continue to be incredibly prolific in art and creativity. Instead, Porter’s reporting is a catastrophic portrayal of the hamlet’s suffering and poverty, filled with stereotypes, deeply judgemental phrases like “fume-sniffing teenagers”, and further illustrations of ignorance.

Even the behind-the-scenes note from Porter is tone-deaf in its assumptions and “white saviour” narrative tropes.

It seemed a brilliantly progressive idea: an Inuit-led cooperative encouraging local artists to express their culture, sell their work and then plow the money back into the community. That, I assumed, had shielded Cape Dorset from some of Nunavut’s depressing statistics. Just look at the $9.8 million cultural center that had opened!

Over the course of my trips, my thinking evolved. Initially, I wondered why, with all that talent, Cape Dorset had not been saved by art. By the end, the question I asked myself was how, against all the odds, the artists of Cape Dorset kept producing such spectacular work.

Porter goes on to emphasize the hamlet’s large number of residents who have been affected by substance abuse, its housing crisis, and the legacy of mistreatment by the government. But the reporter frames it horrifically, with little context or history, repeatedly in a gawkish, othering manner. Filmmaker and communications professional Alethea Arnaquq-Baril provided additional context to Porter’s poor narrative choices.

Saila, Arnaquq-Baril, the community of Cape Dorset, and other Indigenous Canadians generously gave Porter ideas, insight, deep access, and the benefit of the doubt. It was a huge leap of faith considering the country’s long history of mistreatment towards its Indigenous people as well as the countless inaccurate stories written by white writers and reporters.

Porter’s story is a reminder the rapid pace of news output is no excuse for writers, reporters, editors and journalists to forget about how their work can help or hurt what is being recorded about a community long after something has first appeared online, on screen, or in the paper.

A reporter’s job includes being aware of gaps in knowledge; doing the required research; respecting the time, knowledge and perspective of sources; and placing their work in the context of history. It is always worth noting how a situation is the consequence of a wider issue, like climate change, harmful education policies, or systemic mistreatment from the federal government. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Porter had access to immense resources few other Canadian journalists will ever get and still failed all of these reporting requirements. The Times’ story about Saila and Cape Dorset is now another example of why so many people from underrepresented communities continue not to trust media organizations, even when they have stories of incredible success and resilience.

I know what it is like to contact people on behalf of the New York Times when I contributed to a metro story about a transit initiative in Toronto. I know what it sounds like to be hopeful about finally being heard and portrayed accurately in the paper of record.

To say that Indigenous people, as well as many other reporters, are profoundly disappointed by Porter’s work would be an understatement.

The New York Times has a history of being defensive when they stereotype or fail to accurately report on race and underrepresented communities. If Porter fails to own the negative consequences of her work through an apology on Twitter or in any other capacity, she will only add to the country’s long history of mistreatment. Saila and her community had already suffered enough before she came to town.

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