An Open Letter to Taylor Lorenz

Hi, Taylor! I hope this finds you well. I won’t take up too much of your time since you’re a busy little bee on Twitter.

We need to talk. Seriously.

Over the past month or so, you’ve managed to piss off a lot of people for all the wrong reasons. As a journalist, that’s not always a good thing. I mean, if you piss off people for the right reason, like exposing their corruption or dirty dealings, you’re doing it right. Well…how can I put this delicately…I know.

You’re not doing it right.

Yes, I know you’ve worked for the New York Times and the Washington Post, two major newspapers, but that doesn’t make you a journalist necessarily. Think about the personal assistants who run and get coffee. They’re not journalists, either. But as someone with a byline, you have a responsibility to the truth. Just like the personal assistants, you are expected to do the job right, but unlike the personal assistants, you open yourself up to lawsuits if you fuck up.

Just like you did in the aftermath of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. In reporting on the online content creators who did legal analysis, you claimed to have spoken to dozens of them. Welllll…two of those dozens exposed you as a liar, stating you didn’t reach out to them until after your hit-piece…I mean article was published. Oops.

Actually, not an “oops.” That’s a breach of journalistic ethics, if that even exists anymore. As hard as it would be for someone to overlook it, you continue to make it worse by blaming everyone else for your mistakes. Since you got called out rightly for your actions, you’ve played the victim, claiming there was “miscommunication” and a “bad faith campaign” that fueled the controversy. Even if we take your statements at face value, it doesn’t remove your responsibility since it’s your name on the byline.

The fact the Post tried to cover it up with stealth edits and nonsensical editor’s notes don’t help, either. When the Post‘s own media critic says the paper and you fucked up…ya fucked up!

The bigger problem for you is this seems to be your standard operating procedure. Whether it was the Libs of TikTok hit-piece…I mean story or the more recent clusterfuck, you’re quick to make the story about you and how you’re being attacked, thus making you a victim. You even have your talking points down. Whenever you sit down with a sympathetic ear, you talk about “bd faith campaigns” and “online harassment” from randos.

But aren’t you the technology reporter for the Post dealing with online culture?

The fact you’ve had that position at two major newspapers and yet don’t seem to understand the very subject matter you’re supposed to know about (i.e. the reason you’re drawing a paycheck) is a pretty big tell. You are the embodiment of the Peter Principle, only you suck at your job at every level. At this point, I’m not sure I’d trust you to get me a coffee, let alone write a published article. Count your blessings the Post doesn’t share my opinion, but at some point your career will reach a point of diminishing returns.

Let’s just say the fat lady is on in five.

Before you dismiss me as a “bad faith actor,” understand I studied journalism in college and actually hold a Masters Degree in it. I’ve walked beats, written articles under a deadline, and had to answer to editors for mistakes made. This isn’t a game for me; I genuinely want to see good journalism.

In looking at your background, though, I didn’t see where you took the same path. You have a degree in political science, which doesn’t disqualify you from a journalism career but doesn’t help establish even basic credentials. This isn’t me trying to be a gatekeeper, but rather me being a realist. From where I sit, you’re pretty much a blogger with an expense account.

Instead of listening to people like Brian Stelter (who is the journalistic equivalent of a potato), I hope you listen to what I’m about to say and take it to heart. You need to learn how to do your job before you do anything else. You’re young..ish, so you have time to take a journalism course or two from someone who has actually done the legwork. Granted, this might be harder than you accepting responsibility for your fuck-ups, but it will make you a better journalist.

Or at the very least, it will act like a jeweler’s cloth to expose the flaws in your current work.

Until then, please spend less time on Twitter and on making excuses and spend more time learning your craft.

Sincerely,

Thomas

Author: Thomas

I'm a writer and a ranger and a young boy bearing arms. And two out of the three don't count.

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