December 20, 2013

In a well-argued essay, Circa Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Rosa begged news organizations to stop trying to “match” one another’s stories. But Sam Youngman’s essay in Politico about why he is glad he left Washington, D.C., points to a perhaps more interesting facet of modern journalism: the glut of response pieces that appears after a piece like Youngman’s catches fire.

Herewith, a neither complete nor chronological catalog of written responses to Youngman’s “Take This Town and Shove It.” I didn’t count tweets; only a madman would attempt that.

  • The Ultimate Hate-D.C. Essay of 2013” (Dave Weigel, Slate)
    Representative sentence: “Here’s a secret: D.C.’s what you make of it.”
  • Why D.C. Is a Great Place for Journalism” (Matthew Yglesias, Slate)
    Representative sentence: “It’s genuinely unfortunate that so many D.C.-based writers and publications ill-serve their audience by focusing on a lot of gossip and trivia, but the best antidotes to that gossip and trivia are also right here in the nation’s capital.”
  • 20 Things Beltway Journalists Can Do To Be Happy In D.C. And Not Have To Move To Kentucky” (Jason Linkins, The Huffington Post)
    Representative sentence: “12. Say this to yourself often: ‘I am basically one of the luckiest people on the planet since I can call these my problems.'”
  • Why Washington journalism doesn’t suck” (Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post)
    Representative sentence: “When I go out at night, I do it to play pickup basketball not glad-hand with congressional staffers.”
  • Sam Youngman Is This Town” (Jonathan Chait, New York)
    Representative sentence: “While putatively devoted to humility, Youngman’s essay is deeply (and quite cleverly) self-aggrandizing.”
  • Man Recovers From Life in Washington by Writing Gratuitous Story in, Uh, Politico?” (Perry Stein, Washington City Paper)
    Representative sentence: “Now there’s just one thing left for Youngman to do on his road to redemption: Stop freelancing for Politico.”
    (In what could prove to be the beginning of a recursive nightmare, The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein responded to Stein’s response: “Her story on Youngman stinks.”)
  • If you’re a self-loathing Washington journalist, you’re doing it wrong” (Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post)
    Representative sentence: “To see Youngman create and then smack around a stereotype of an insider Washington journalist, and do so in the very publication that exemplifies that insiderness, is a little much.”
  • Who We Talk About When We Talk About Washington” (Bridget Todd, Medium)
    Representative sentence: “I can’t help but think that maybe if the people who are so convinced that D.C. politics is one big douche-parade left the Hill every now and again, they might change their tunes.”
  • Former Washington Reporter Miraculously Survives to Tell His Sorry Tale” (Benjamin Freed, Washingtonian)
    Representative sentence: “There’s no rule that says all fresh-faced reporters who come here have to become horserace hacks who ignore the life-and-death issues that Youngman says he lost sight of.”
  • Take This Town and Love It” (Jonathan Allen, Politico)
    Representative sentence: “I didn’t know Youngman well when he was in Washington—I recall seeing him at a Nationals game (we were both in box seats, naturally)—but I knew who he was, and I suspect he knew me by reputation as well.”
  • The Silly Machinery: Why Sam Youngman’s Politico Article Reminds Me of Almost Famous” (Bryce Rudow, The Daily Banter)
    Representative sentence: “Maybe in a decade, I too will become dried out after standing so close to the flaming pile of shit that is pristinely labeled “Current Events,” but for right now, I’m proud [to] be sitting at my desk only some 30 odd blocks from the Capitol, high-fiving Ben Cohen when he goes after Glenn Greenwald and re-tweeting Chez’ latest rant because I believe that with every single view we get, we’re affecting one more individual.”
  • It’s Not Washington, It’s You” (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)
    Representative sentence: “I wasn’t going to write about this, but then something shocking happened: Chris Cillizza wrote something I agreed with.”
  • Sammy Youngman’s Epiphany” (Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly)
    Representative sentence: “He says journalists need to talk to voters instead of reading polls; there’s no rule against doing both, and over-interpretation of shoe-leather anecdotes is, in my opinion, as big a problem with journalism as excessive reliance on more systematic forms of empirical data.”
  • Capital Gifts: What To Get The Person Tired Of This Town” (Matt Cohen, DCist)
    Representative sentences: “Another prime example of the abrupt distinction between “Washington” and “D.C.” Or, to put it another way: The difference between the city portrayed in House of Cards than the city portrayed in, say, D.C. Cab.”
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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
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