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Jack Shafer: ‘Always Be Looking’

Newly-laid-off media critic Jack Shafer took time out of his day today to chat with Poynter.org staffers and readers about what it was like losing his gig at Slate.

He said:
“Do you know the play/movie Glengarry Glen Ross? There’s a cliche the boiler-room salesmen in it use: “ABC,” which stands for Always Be Closing. I believe in ABL for journalists: Always Be Looking. No matter how good your job is–and mine was great–you should always be looking for your next gig.”

We’ve collected a few more of his answers here, but read the whole chat—it’s good.

On the toughest challenge he’ll face in his job search:
“Getting up in the morning. I really like to sleep, and I don’t care who you are, the most inviting way to start a day is not applying for jobs. If I can get out of bed, get some coffee, and stay awake all day, that will be my toughest assignment.”

On freelancing:
“Slate… didn’t mind me reviewing books for the NYTimes, the WashPost, BookForum, the SF Chronicle, and other places. I think my strategy is to turn down no assignment!….But remember, as my friend Mike Dolan says, every assignment has three elements: price, deadline, and quality. The assigning editor gets to pick two.”

On the future of print journalism (asked by someone who apologized “for being Negative Pants”):
“I don’t think any of us have been print journalists since 1996. Doesn’t the entire NYT and WPost go up on the web before it rolls off the presses? Don’t all the networks and TV stations use the web as a medium? What’s really changed is that all the various mediums–which used to be separate–all compete against one another for stories (and advertising) on one shared medium. The Web. Don’t apologize for being Negative. Negative is the new Positive.”

On whether it’s a good idea to write a “f— you” note to your editor on the way out the door, as the journalists in a June Shafer column did:
I think if the feelings are genuine, the prose is creatively nasty, and it gets you some needed notoriety, then hell yes, write an angry “fuck you” to you bosses on the way out the door. I don’t feel that way about my soon-to-be former bosses, hence my demur stance. I would encourage all the angry fired journalists to write more “fuck you” notes to their bosses so I can write a second sequel to my original column.

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