Another Reason Why Some Very Good Journalists Can’t Find Work

In talking with another editor about a writer we both admire, we agreed that the writer seems to have semi-retired despite being in the prime of life. What happened to him?

Our guess is that while the writer had found print editors who would put up with him because of his talent, he doesn’t fit into the world of digital journalism where teamwork is prized. And much of print now seems an offshoot of digital journalism—the Washington Post’s Reliable Source column today featured clickbait items on Kathy Griffin and Kim Kardashian.

The out of favor writer? He’s a very good reporter and witty and smart. But we agreed there’s an obsessive quality about him that often makes him hell to work with.

He once was on the Washingtonian staff and I was willing to put up with the headaches but most of our other editors and writers—a pretty sensible and friendly bunch—didn’t like him. The writer knew he was good and making friends was not his m.o. A born freelancer.

He returned to freelancing, mostly in New York and I now rarely see his work, I think partly because print journalism is shrinking there and everywhere and partly because he can be such a pain.

A lot of great journalism will be lost if that kind of writer—and there are a fair number of them—can’t find any team that’ll let him play.

Sort of like “Sorry, Mr. Williams, you may be a .400 hitter but the team just doesn’t want you in the dugout.”

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