Blackbird Caye Resort, Turneffe Atoll, Belize. by Flash Parker
Via Flickr:
Grab your wetsuit, spit into your mask, and come along with me as I explore the otherworldly Belize Barrier Reef with my friends from Blackbird Caye Resort and PADI. Belize is one of the world’s most remarkable dive destinations, home to pristine coral reef systems, some of the blue planet’s most remarkable marine life, and the Great Blue Hole. The Turneffe Atoll also happens to be the finest place on earth to learn to dive, and a true showcase of what it really means to travel deeper. Flash Parker Freelance: Website | Facebook | Twitter

We’re hiring paid web interns!

It’s that time of year again.

The Week magazine is seeking driven, enthusiastic web editorial interns to work out of our Manhattan office for 2-3 days a week for the fall (end of August through December). The ideal candidate is a bright undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a career in journalism who possesses solid research and writing skills and a knack for all things web.

Interns will gain hands-on experience in a digital newsroom by assisting The Week’s team of editors in researching, pitching, writing, and promoting stories. Other responsibilities include building articles in the CMS, assisting with social media, and other aspects of basic web production.

Please send a cover letter, resume, availability, and two writing samples to with the subject line “WEB EDITORIAL INTERNSHIP.”

The internship pays 8.75/hour, minimum wage in New York.

Good luck!

(L-R) Maydelin Pérez Pérez, 38, sells empanadas as her three-year-old daughter, Lorena Sofia Reyez, watches in the Havana Vieja neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. Pérez is divorced, cannot afford daycare for her four children, and says her ex-husband contributes the equivalent to $1 of child support monthly. She earned less at her government job as a secretary than she does now, as one of Cuba’s cuentapropistas (small business entrepreneurs, whose practice wasn’t allowed in Bulgaria and most of Eastern Europe until the collapse of communism.) Since privatization was first allowed within Cuba’s state-owned socialist system in the mid-70s, the requirements for those allowed to be cuentapropistas have fluctuated from restrictive to less so - the latter in the Raúl Castro era of 2008 and beyond. But a clear disincentive to private business expansion remains, however: if payroll surpasses 5 employees or a $2,000 yearly profit, taxes increase disproportionately (from 15% to 50% in case of the latter.)

Image and caption by Yana Paskova, via Instagram. Cuba, 2015.

the whole black on black crime crap is such hogwash to derail you away from the topic of police brutality. It’s no secret that most crimes are correlated with proximity. Most places throughout the U.S tend to be ethnically homogenous since racial segregation is still prevalent because of the disparity in socioeconomic statuses between whites, blacks, and other groups of people. Where are you most likely to commit a crime If you’re a black person growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood? Probably your neighborhood against another black person. Where are you most likely to commit a crime if you’re a white person from the mid-west living in a predominantly white neighborhood? Most likely in your neighborhood against another white person. What about a Punjabi dude that lives in Bramptom, Canada? He’s most likely to commit a crime against another Punjabi in his neighborhood. Proximity and opportunity usually serves as the impetus for criminal activity. The ‘black on black crime’ narrative is just another racist rhetoric to blind you from the real issues that need to be addressed.

Reddit became a web destination and a traffic powerhouse by virtue of the clicking, viewing, and typing habits of a relatively narrow subsection of Internet users. Seventy-four percent of Reddit users are men, the highest of any social networking website. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube all come much closer to gender parity. Describing Reddit without making reference to its gender asymmetry is akin to reporting on Pinterest, which is 72 percent female, without noting that the site caters to women.

And, indeed, when The New York Times reviewed Pinterest in 2012, they rightly referred to it as “female-oriented,” but when the CEO of a 74 percent male social network resigns after facing intense criticism from its users—much of it laced with misogyny—they somehow forget to label Reddit, in turn, as “male-oriented.” Reddit too often passes in the media as unmarked and neutral territory while sites like Pinterest get pigeonholed as girly.

Tierra Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. by Flash Parker
Via Flickr:
Into the dusty red forever of the Atacama Desert with help from the Tierra Atacama, just in time to climb mountains, surf the Milky Way, and chase llamas through the brush. Flash Parker Photography: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Happy 153rd Birthday to Ida B. Wells, who was born on this day in 1862.

For more than four decades, her militant voice brought worldwide attention to the evil of lynching and influenced the course of American reform. In September 1883, while commuting by train, Wells was asked to leave the “ladies’ car” and move to the smoking car, where all African Americans were expected to sit. She refused to leave, bit the conductor who tried to remove her, and then filed a successful suit against the railroad. Although the verdict was reversed by the state supreme court, her accounts of the case in a local black newspaper launched her journalism career, earning her the nickname “Princess of the Press" by her male colleagues.

Fellow editor T. Thomas Fortune noted, "She has become famous as one of the few of our women who handle a goose-quill, with a diamond point, as easily as any man in the newspaper work. . . . She has plenty of nerve, and is as sharp as a steel trap.”

Never hesitant to criticize anyone, no matter how prominent, Wells collected enemies and suitors in almost equal numbers.

Photo via Google

A woman shops for fruit and vegetables in a mercado - a market where farmers can sell produce at their own pricing - in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. While food distribution centers, or bodegas, have rationed approximately 1/3 of Cubans’ food requirements - at stable, subsidized prices since the program’s inception in 1962 to help offset the U.S.-Cuban trade embargo - those only include basics like rice, flour, sugar and beans, without green veggies, spices, most meat and dairy (which is only available to children and pregnant women.) Memories of the Special Period - war-like food austerity measures imposed after the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s and pulled its subsidies from the island’s economy - keep Cubans anxious about food. As do lingering food shortages, and high prices outside of bodegas. When the government broke up state farms into smaller co-ops and individual farms in 1993, and opened farmers’ markets, food became more available to Cubans - although, again, at much less affordable prices than in bodegas.

Image and caption by Yana Paskova, via Instagram. Cuba, 2015.

So let’s be realistic.

He’s going to make you angry and jealous, and you’re going to feel so much pain that you just want to run away from everything. You’ll want to say goodbye and slam doors, but please stay. Scream and fight and cry until you’re in his arms again.

When he talks to pretty girls, a part of you will always turn a hideous green. She may be pretty, but you’re the one he dreams of every night.

His mom will sometimes smile at you.
Always smile at her.

He isn’t going to always pay for dinner, please bring your own money. He may be handsome and charming, but he isn’t paid for being attractive.

He’s going to forget your birthday. But he’ll remember the day he first kissed you.

On his bad days he’s going to want to be alone, and you’re going to get frustrated. Stay with him, but don’t say anything. Listen to his favorite songs no matter how much you hate some of them.

Let him compliment you, okay? If he likes your face without makeup, hug him. If he says you look freaking sexy with bold red lipstick, stain his lips with yours. Compliment him too. Tell him his hair is cute that day and play with it. Tell him his voice gives you goosebumps. Just tell him, and he’ll tell you.

To tell you the truth, it’s going to be hard, but he’s going to be worth it.

—  7 truths from a realist in love

How delightful that a Google Doodle celebrates trailblazing journalist, suffragist, and civil rights champion Ida B. Wells. Only a decade after Nellie Bly paved the way for women in journalism, and many decades before the dawn of the civil rights movement, Wells began publishing her culture-shifting reports and exposés on lynching. 

When Wells married in 1885, she became one of the first American women to both take her husband’s last name and keep her own.

Sugar Beach, Saint Lucia, West Indies. by Flash Parker
Via Flickr:
Exploring the gorgeous Caribbean playground of Saint Lucia, by way of Ladera Resort and J Public Relations. Up and down the Pitons, chasing geckos through the rainforest, and holding my breath in the Deep Blue. All in a day’s work. Flash Parker Photography: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Looking into a private barber shop in the Havana Vieja neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. Since privatization was first allowed within Cuba’s state-owned socialist system in the mid-70s, the requirements for those allowed to be cuentapropistas (small business entrepreneurs - whose practice wasn’t allowed in Bulgaria and most of Eastern Europe until the collapse of communism) have fluctuated from restrictive to less so - the latter in the Raúl Castro era of 2008 and beyond.

But a clear disincentive to private business expansion remains: if payroll surpasses 5 employees or a $2,000 yearly profit, taxes increase disproportionately (from 15% to 50% in case of the latter.) This is Yana Paskova in NYC, posting on a nation of much recent conversation, Cuba - whose politics and way of life parallel much of my childhood in Bulgaria. This is 2015’s continuation to my project on democracy + communism, started last year on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - the event that gave opportunity to Eastern Europeans like me to immigrate to the Western world. Follow me this week as I show you the ways in which Cuba has transported me to pre- and post-1989 Bulgaria.

Image and caption by Yana Paskova, via Instagram. Cuba, 2015.

Goodbye to All That Gawking

To steal a tired line from an old dead writer: Gawker in 2013 was a very special time and place to be a part of. I think – hope – that I still have some good years of writing and reporting and editing ahead of me, but whatever form that future takes, it will be a far sight from sharing blog space with storytellers and solid human beings like Cord Jefferson, Adrian Chen, Camille Dodero, and Ken Layne. The place was an oasis for writers and thinkers who’d been around and paid a heavy load of dues, many heeding New York’s gravitational pull for a time, but not forever. Through years of experience in journalism, creative writing, and unrelated vocations, they knew well the rules and norms they chose to break. Their cynicism and affectations were borne out of a frustrated idealism for the world, for America, for New York, for the industry we worked in and covered. At their best, they used snark as a tool, an expedient means for entertaining and enlightening, rather than as a brand identity, a means in itself.

That was six or seven Gawkers ago. Those people are all gone now. Since then, there have been Kinja recruits, dozens of redesigns and side blogs born and dead, an editorial director born and dead, a Politburo, a slow-batch blogging experiment, a new office deal, a reorientation toward traffic goals, a legal and PR push… a host of little changes and spot corrections, each like a minor repair to Theseus’ ship. At some point, a crew member looks up at the vessel and realizes that no plank, no rib of the original ship remains; it is something different now.

For me, that’s been the last half-year or more at Gawker, culminating in last night’s publication of the David Geithner gay escort-and-solicitation-outing story. That, and some other little posts and stories to come out of the place lately, seem like something Gawker might have always done, but looser, less-well vetted and justified, a more cynical and malign simulacrum of the site’s past.

There is still more good than bad, an excess of talent and wonderfulness in the Gawker Media staff, from the folks known as the Politburo to Jezebel hitting on all cylinders to Deadspin’s delightful writing, especially Concourse and Adequate Man. Even on Gawker proper, old voices like Rich and Hamilton are doing what they’ve always done and new talents have consistent smile-making potential. To the extent that I know them – which is to say, mostly virtually – I like pretty much all of these people. But I worry that they won’t realize their potential. On the whole, this current Gawker is not an incarnation I can endorse and defend vigorously. It’s not a Gawker I’ve been comfortable contributing to for awhile. It’s not a Gawker I will work for.

But please don’t mistake this for some unambiguously courageous, principled stand on my part. I don’t work at Gawker now. I was fired late last month.

The way firing generally seems to work at Gawker is like this: It does the company, and the individual writer/editor, no real good to announce a parting in some public way, so they keep a person on payroll for some reasonable amount of time while the person keeps up appearances and lines up a new gig. As far as anyone knows, the parting happens on the employee’s terms. It’s a pretty cool arrangement, if you ignore the fact that that the company has no official severance policy and no set method of evaluating, warning, or terminating employees. And also the proposition that Gawker’s existence is ostensibly predicated on radical transparency and honesty. (Now think about how many people have left Gawker over the years, and knock yourself out wondering how many were actually fired!)

I should have seen my end coming. There’s no question that for most of 2015, I underperformed expectations. The editor who brought me on had departed, and with him went the site’s minute-to-minute alt-weekly feel; his replacement had a different aesthetic, one that was sharper geographically and demographically and somewhat inscrutable to me; he was never really sure what to do with me, and I cast about trying to find ways to be useful, until I was exhausted and empty.

I was one of the first writers last year to volunteer for the great Kinja experiment, leaving the safety of the front page to start Fortress America, with complete freedom – and complete disinterest from the bosses; as a remote worker with specialties in the not-always-SEO-friendly areas of politics and conflict, I was pretty much left to my own devices, so much so that I had no clue if anyone other than my commenters really cared how I was spending my work day.

Somewhere in there, as I was dealing with a divorce, a move, health issues, and a parenting plan, the new editorial leadership began to express preferences for Gawker writers. These were almost always expressed in negative rather than affirmative terms: Stop using these words. Don’t write these headlines. Don’t write those stories. Your tone should not be like this. You shouldn’t really do “beats.” Some of which is par for the course in newsrooms, although it’s usually accompanied by exhortations to do write this, do expand that format or area of coverage. Once-weekly editorial meetings, checkins where every member of the team went around the horn and talked about what we were working on, were canceled. Our internal chats became much snippier and gossipier and more us-against-the-world and less focused on writing and reporting. Staff who weren’t around in Soho to do rooftop drinks with the bosses were left to guess what the site leadership really wanted.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t really hard to guess; I just didn’t want to confront the answer. I’d expressed a desire to edit and was told there was no budget for it; then a handful of senior editors (a few of them really nice and really good) were hired. A bunch of younger writers (all of them good) were hired or imported from other Gawker sites to write about things I had previously written about. A lot of my chats and emails to bosses went unanswered. I had to remind my boss to give me the same phone and email reviews, goal-setting conversations, and checkins other staff writers got. The most insubstantial of my posts was suddenly sent through rigorous vetting by the site lead, and multiple stories were put on hold, spiked, or watered down in ways that made obvious my news nose and style were not what he wanted on his site.

A few months ago, amid all this, I was told with great fanfare that I’d spend the next year working on a side blog with a national security expert who – without divulging too much – had access to an enlightening and largely unknown trove of sensitive government information. That turned out to be a colossal oversell; the expert was embittered, obsessed with more than a few red herrings, occasionally unreliable, and singularly unwilling to share his still-undisclosed trove for stories. He preferred instead to write bombastic score-settling rants and conspiratorial suppositions – precisely the sort of unwarranted jeremiads I’d assured readers and friends in the national security space that we wouldn’t be doing. At a certain point, I sort of gave up on the experiment, unable to associate with factually shaky posts that claimed the Charleston killings weren’t terrorism and that portrayed a former defense secretary (whom I don’t particularly like) sucking and rubbing off the Washington Monument.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was fired June 19. We had just voted to unionize, and on our Slack chat group for all the site’s writers, a solicitation went out for volunteers to serve on the union’s bargaining committee. I expressed my interest and mere seconds later, the site editor came on, rapping off a couple reasons why it would be a good idea for me not to volunteer, and to let someone else in the office take our spot on the committee. I couldn’t understand why a supervisor would call out an employee, in front of the staff, and dissuade him from organizing the workplace. A few hours later, he called me to tell me things weren’t working out.

It was a tone thing. There’d been “plenty of come to Jesus moments,” he’d said. The phone call, I think, was more difficult than he anticipated. He didn’t realize that I was closing on my first house in six days. They’d pay me through July, he said. I’d gotten offers before, I’d land on my feet, he said. Indeed, I’d turned down three very good offers in the previous year out of a desire to leave my imprint on Gawker. Those offers had now exploded. I told him his timing sucked and negotiated for pay through August. I haven’t kept up appearances especially well on this end. I have a house and debts and half-time custody of a toddler son and frankly no inclination to write anymore for a site that doesn’t want me. Best if I stay out of the way.

How does this long, blubbery personal story bear on the publication last night of that Geithner story? I tell you all of that background to stress that 1) I’m only speaking for myself here, and 2) I’m not impartial, omniscient or especially courageous in speaking out now. But 3) I definitely feel that the latest incarnation of Gawker is short of grownups in the room to exercise some kind of non-holistic, non-shitty editorial and tonal judgment. The drawback of Gawker’s flat, wide-open editorial structure – what Nick Denton has recently called a “writer’s collective” – is that it’s only as good as the writers who run it. And my personal view is Gawker’s usual surplus of talent and insight is being undermined by a couple of people running things who’ve made it very small, very mean, and very jerkily gossipy without an intermediate process of reflection.

So my view on what happened last night is that it was a symptom of that deficit. Having checked out of the staff’s chat system, my first look at the story was when it published. Even if I had known it was in the works, I’d have had absolutely no control over it. But I wish I did.

My concerns were, first, that we’d be doing the work of either an unstable or unsavory escort, and second, that we hadn’t established the newsworthiness of the story or Geithner, its subject. I’ve written stories outing cads before; but one was a moralizing congressman, and one was an NSA-defending electronic-privacy hypocrite and war-college professor who was engaging in the sort of behavior for which his pupils – prospective admirals and captains – could be prosecuted. Gawker has written about the sexual orientation of public people before, but those cases have been, to my mind, more defensible: You can make an argument for the newsworthiness of a Fox News broadcaster, already branded as qualitatively different from most of his coworkers, reportedly having to play down his sexual identity for a conservative employer. I might not have made the call to publish that myself, but I was not ashamed to work someplace that did publish it.

Even the much-ballyhooed Hulk Hogan sex-video case is clearly different: Hogan is a bonafide public person, whose family life was purportedly an open book on a reality program; he was having sex with the wife of another public person, and he has made facts about his sexual proclivities public matters in his media appearances. He can seize on the case as a solution to his financial and personal woes, and he can possibly score a short-term gain here in this bizarre state I call home, but he can’t change facts.

That’s a sight different from this Geithner story. I’m not aware of any effort that was made to link David Geithner’s alleged behavior to his work, or his famous brother, or any public statements he’d made about marriage, or sex, or sexual orientation; to me, any of these would have been have necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) factors in deeming his outing newsworthy. I’m not sure why he should have been outed but his accuser should enjoy anonymity. I’m not sure his accuser is reliable. Without acquiring some certainty on these points, I wouldn’t have published the piece. And I saw no reason I shouldn’t say so publicly.

A quick caveat: This is an editing problem, not a writing problem. The story author, Jordan Sargent, is young and smart and talented and energetic, as are virtually all of the content producers I meet today – at Gawker, at the New York Times, at even the handful of sites I have major issues with. We all need editors to push us to report better, to write better, to exercise better judgment. As former Gawkerer Richard Lawson explained here and here last night, our bloggy world doesn’t incentivize that kind of editorial oversight. But that oversight is what makes the difference between good writers and writers who are also good but make very bad calls, and have to live with those calls, and also have to live with your smarmy abusive online threats. (Stop the abuse. Don’t answer childishness with more childishness.)

Relatedly, none of this vindicates any of the psychotic, hateful, performatively sanctimonious self-marketing of Christina Hoff Sommers, Milo Yianawhatever, “gamergaters,” and the bevy of cold, craven, retrograde pre-fab apartment-dwelling souls who are waging an inane jihad against Gawker Media, feminism, and cultural justice. They are wrong. They are twisted. They are abusive. And I could give three hot farts about their crocodile tears for David Geithner and his family. What pisses me off the most about this lapse in editorial judgment is that it’s (again) enabled this barely coherent rabble of internet bullies to signal boost their dumb assertions about Gawker en masse, and to get them taken seriously for a dumb nanosecond. Gawker is not that bad, and those critics are not that smart.

But Gawker does have a problem. Last night, when I tweeted what I tweeted – a short, fact-based distancing of myself from the Geithner story – I only heard from one erstwhile coworker, an editor that I have always loved and respected and would walk through fires for.

“Cmon that tweet dude,” the editor texted me. “Seriously?”

“That story was not defensible, and isn’t to the credit of good ppl there,” I replied.

“You didn’t have to tweet,” the response came.

I didn’t really know how to reply to that, any more than I’ve known how to be a good Gawkerer these past few months. We worked together and supported each other on a site whose ethos is grounded in total transparency, in shining a light on media’s internal guts. When good editors at a site like that, with a name like Gawker, start reproving old comrades for inward-looking critiques, what are you supposed to do?

Google celebrates the 153rd birthday of Ida B. Wells.


A pioneering African-American woman who used journalism to stand up against white supremacy and segregation and who led an anti-lynching crusade in the 1890s is celebrated on her birthday with a Google Doodle.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett would have turned 153 on July 16. She was a writer and editor, a suffragist and an early leader in the civil rights movement.

“We salute Ida B. Wells with a Doodle that commemorates her journalistic mettle and her unequivocal commitment to the advancement of civil liberties,” Google says.

Wells-Barnett is also known for her rally cry, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

Be idealistic. Resist cynicism.

If you’re a journalist or just a who cares about being a responsible citizen of our media-culture, read Everything I Know About Journalism in 395 Words by New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan – so very grounding and necessary. 

Couple with some thoughts on cynicism from yours truly and E.B. White on the cultural responsibility of the writer