Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Hired and Fired by the New Yorker

Former New Yorker staff writer Dan Baum (he used to write about the military, and also did a number of stories from New Orleans during and after Katrina) has been posting, via Twitter, an account of his time at the magazine. It's pretty interesting, though currently incomplete.

Among his observations is the following:

I particularly liked the fact-checkers, who go way beyond getting names spelled right and actually do a lot of reporting. More than once, the fact-checkers uncovered information I hadn’t had, found crucial sources I hadn’t interviewed. It’s like having a team of back-up reporters. They work like soldier ants, and are invariably cheerful.

I've noticed in the New Yorker over the years that, whenever there's a potential literary connection to be made in an article, the article will make it. (For instance, Nick Paumgarten's piece about the guy who got trapped in an elevator for 42 hours makes reference to Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, a novel about elevator inspectors.) It's one of the things I love about the magazine. 

Baum's remark makes me think that at least some of these references must come from the team of fact-checkers, many of whom are probably former English majors or, at least, avid readers, and are loath to let by a chance to make a literary connection.

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