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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The (Paltry) Wages of Wokeness

I've been amused to see the ongoing dustup over Substack.  As our new woke overlords manage to drive out anybody who has ever expressed an unorthodox thought from the mainstream media, a funny thing has happened. All of the legacy media outlets have become boring echo chambers of woke scolds. No surprise, this has led quite a few people to look for other opinions. And it seems that a good number of the unorthodox thinkers have ended up at Substack, where they appear to be making quite good coin.  Matt Yglesias, who had the temerity to sign a letter opposing cancel culture, and was pushed out of Vox for that sin, was offered a quarter of a million to write for Substack, and stands to make quite a bit more.

Apparently the deal is that you can set a certain monthly subscriber fee--typically between $5 and $10.  Substack has offered writers either a straight commission (90% of their subscriber fees) or a fixed amount plus a lower commission.  As it happens Yglesias would have made quite a bit more--well over $500,000--had he taken the straight commission.

Well, you can imagine the reaction from the woke mob.  Here they had routed the evil man from their midst and he landed a job where he's presumably making quite a bit more than he was toiling for Vox.  And he's not alone. Many writers who ran afoul of one PC rule or the other have gone over there. Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, John McWhorter and Jessie Singal among many others have set up their own newsletters.  And Substack is, to be honest, about the only website worth reading these days because of those people.

Of course, the folks who managed to shut down Parler have turned their ire on Substack. Some have called for the site itself to be deplatformed.  Others have tried the concern troll tactic: Did Substack really want to be associated with this bad person?

Now you might be wondering why the wokerati are not flocking to Substack themselves--here's a site where you can get paid directly by the people who like to read your work, cutting out the middleman (the publisher) and getting rich in the process.  Ah, but there's the rub; it turns out that quite a few social justice warriors have tried it and have not been quite as successful as the iconoclasts listed above.  You can see the problem; who's going to pay to read the same stuff they can read in every newspaper and magazine online already? Especially when that stuff comes from people who sneer at you and your opinions.

And meanwhile the layoffs continue, although now they're not just hitting the legacy media outlets, but the "new media" sites like the Huffington Post.

Update: And as if on cue, Medium announces that it will be switching to a Substack-style model.  Note the important hall monitoring, err, journalism that we'll be missing out on:

Those publications have published high-impact work over the years: An investigation by tech publication OneZero into a surveillance tech executive’s attendance at KKK meetings led to his firing, for example.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Glass Houses, Part 1127

Teen Vogue, which manages to combine Marxist theory with $1000 belts, is enjoying its moment in the cancel culture sun. The fashion and beauty and social conscience mag had hired Alexi McCammond, a 27-year-old political writer as its new editor-in-chief. McCammond had previously received criticism and apologized for a few tweets she wrote a decade ago about Asians which were perceived as objectionable (and a few others which were reportedly homophobic, although those particular ones I have not read).

The brass at Conde Nast apparently thought McCammond could be forgiven now that she had repented her mistakes, but not so the rank and file, which revolted.  Reading between the lines, I suspect that some of the opposition to her hiring is based on her relative lack of experience, which strikes me as a reasonable point. However a great deal of attention was again focused on those old tweets, with apparently a senior Teen Vogue staffer named Christine Davitt leading the charge.

Well, you can probably see the fly heading rapidly towards the ointment, even if you didn't click on the link yet.  Turns out that Davitt herself has a problem with tweets that have not aged well.  Ouch!  Live by the cancel culture, die by the cancel culture.

 I want to say that kids should be forgiven most sins, but it looks like we are headed in the opposite direction. These days they probably need to be counseled on how to avoid expressing themselves on the internet until they are in their 30s.



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