I’ve got to hand it to Charlie Stross, whose diary entry on leaving Computer Shopper is a masterpiece of the art of public resignation.
The problem is that he really doesn’t come over that well, particularly not to anyone who’s been on the other side of the freelancer/staff divide. He begins by explaining how he got into computer journalist because he wanted to get some software for free, but by the end of it he’s complaining that computer magazines are no longer banner carriers for a revolution. Does anyone else see the contradiction in that?
Here’s the real deal: Charlie is paid to write a column about Linux. Charlie writes a column about blogging tools. Editor rejects this column. Charlie has tantrum, throws toys out of pram. No, Charlie, just because blogging tools run on Linux doesn’t mean you can write about them. It’s like being paid to write something about Windows, and then turning in something on Office.
What Charlie apparently doesn’t understand is the idea that the editor’s job is to balance the magazine. That means that, if there’s a bloody great piece on SCO’s lawsuit in the news, covering the same thing again in his Linux column isn’t a great idea. It means that columnists have to write about what the magazine wants, not what they want. You can’t have a successful magazine that consists of lots of columns where everyone writes about anything they like: that way lies madness. That he rants on about how MacBiter did an entire column about haemorrhoids as an example of how great Shopper used to be is telling.
I won’t go on any more about Charlie’s whining tone, and his “don’t you know who I am?” attitude. But I know one thing: if I was Charlie’s editor, I’d be singing from the rooftops and getting someone young, smart and less of a primadonna in to do a better job.
Caveat: Unsurprisingly, as an ex-Dennis person, I know and like the people on the new Shopper, and count some of them as friends. So make of that what you will.
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