Should 'Cougars' Be Leashed?

Cougar ready to pounce
The other kind...Image by Harlequeen via Flickr

I hate “Cougar Town”, perhaps the most self-loathing (lots to choose from) show on network television. The risible idea of an older woman — shriek! — dating or sleeping with or chasing a younger man, actually having sexual desires, has become a cultural trope.


Here’s the predictably outraged Andrea Peyser in the New York Post:

Susan Winter’s relationship at 40 with a 19-year-old led her to write “Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance” (Horizon Press). And she understands the “ick” factor.

“What’s empowering about a middle-age woman coming on to a younger guy at a bar and taking him home?” asked Winter, now 55. “Do you really want to wear leopard-skin pants, crop top and muffin fat hanging over?

“Being with someone younger expands our choices. What we find unattractive is the idea of a predator.”

Carolyn, 44, works in the music industry and dates younger guys. But she knows some men get turned off — or on, for the wrong reasons.

“I’m dating people, they have to know how old I am,” she said. “I’m the one who’s uncomfortable.”

It was inevitable that society would turn against women’s gray hair, crow’s feet and belly fat. But I won’t be the butt of jokes.

Act your age, ladies. And lay off the boys.

This matters…because?

Because if you head into any New York (substitute any major city name here) bar, you’ll find some fat old guy with a comb-over and healthy self-esteem working hard to pick up lithe, pretty girls half his age. Yet when women play the man’s game, the wrist-slapping, pursed-lips crowd remind us it’s not seemly for a woman over…35? to have a sexual appetite, let alone want to enjoy it with a younger guy.

I think they’re all really jealous.

Many older women are in great shape. Those gray hairs? Feh. We treasure our colorists. We earn our own incomes, own our own homes and, best of all for some younger men, have our own clearly formed identities without the social validation of a husband.

After my divorce, my first boyfriend was six years younger, his successor eight years younger. For most of my older single life, (before settling down with someone four months my junior), I dated guys much younger than myself, mostly because they were a lot more fun. They had more energy and optimism.

Available older guys were too often embittered sad sacks — broke from divorce/child support/alimony; worn out from endless fighting with their ex-wife(ves); broken by the forces of middle age, whether the loss of their hair or their job.

The ones my age who were in decent shape? Too busy chasing college-age kiddies to even glance in my direction.

Cougars are using the basic laws of supply and demand to their advantage — older guys (i.e. men their age, 40+) won’t even consider dating most of them. New York City women over 35, even the ropy-armed crowd lean as whippets, freshly manicured/pedicured/highlighted/Botoxed, wearing their best designer dresses, are a dime a dozen. They know it, men know it. Oversupply.

Younger men — 10 or 12 or 15 years younger — even five or six years younger, offer an appealing alternative. I used to call them Kit Kat boys, like the candy bar, a nice, light snack. They probably won’t marry you or nurse you through your hip replacement(s), but they have their own charms. They dance well, know cool music, are up for adventure. One of them told me, appreciatively, how much he valued our age difference. Women his age, he said, were an amorphous, identity-seeking mess, too often focused on Getting The Ring.

I’d just lost a lousy husband and was in no rush to make that mistake twice.

I did hit bottom the night I met a lovely young —- oooooohhhh, so young — man in one of my favorite Manhattan bars. We dated a few times but it wasn’t working out too well. Not because he lived in Queens (where I’d never even been before) and I north of the city. But because he kept talking about college. Because he’d just graduated.

I could barely remember college.

There are limits to how low one can go. But it’s up to the man, and the woman, to make that decision.

Not the finger-wagging crowd.

Have you ever dated someone much younger (or older)? How did it turn out? Would you (never) consider it?

In Solitary, At Least They Bring You Three Meals — The Joy Of Working From Home

Working at home
Image by gibsonsgolfer via Flickr

Many people dream of the day they can work from home. No commute! No office politics! No nasty boss!

A piece in today’s New York Post addresses some of the challenges involved: loneliness, isolation, no one to chat or brainstorm or joke with. Tech support? Try your computer’s “help” tab:

Victoria Porter, a medical writer, used to work in a Manhattan office, until she was hired a job a few years ago by a company based in Minnesota. The offer: full-time telecommuting from her Long Island residence, an idyllic setup to the many cube dwellers who dream of working from home in their pajamas all day.

So, how did it feel to be liberated from the need to slog through a commute and show up at an office every day?

She hated it. Instead of feeling liberated, she felt isolated and cut off — and found herself fighting the temptation to call friends and colleagues at their desks just to chat.

“The loneliness was acute, and I just wanted to go back to my old job,” she says. “If not for my cats, it would have been really, really depressing.”

She stuck with it, but one colleague who faced a similar fate decided to go back to office work.

“He wanted to work with other human beings,” she says.

For many workers, the ability to telecommute — to work remotely, enabled by laptops and wireless communication — is one of the prizes of the digital era. An estimated 33.7 million US employees now work from home at least a few times a month, according to World at Work, a nonprofit that studies telecommuting.

A National Geographic documentary crew is spending a week in solitary confinement to see what it’s like, reports The New York Times:

Heightening the sense of imprisonment, the volunteers can send short posts to Twitter, but they cannot read any responses. The live-streaming at started when the three volunteers entered their cells somewhere outside Washington, D.C., last Friday, and it will continue through this Friday. The documentary will have its premiere on April 11.

It’s a marketing stunt borrowed from reality TV — or perhaps a psychology experiment. National Geographic prefers to call it a complement to the documentary, intended to prompt conversation about a part of the prison system seldom examined by camera crews.

Russell Howard, a spokesman for the National Geographic Channel, said the experiment was rooted in a question: “In a day and age when everyone is hyper-connected, what is it like to be severed socially as well as to be kept in such a small space?”

I started my day driving my sweetie to the train station (get dressed, brush hair, wash face, leave apartment)l ate breakfast at a local diner where I saw a neighbor and type this listening to BBC World News, as I do every weekday morning for an hour. From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or later, it’s my workday. Alone.

Those of us who work alone at home all day — especially without a separate office space — face our own challenges: when to stop working, finding social contact within the workday, trying (hah!) to control the clutter of books, newspapers, magazines I use for work while my “office” is a desk in the livingroom, staying visible and audible within our industries. I offer some tips on how to handle isolation on my website. Michelle Goodman, who’s written several great books about working freelance, has some helpful tips on her website, including this one.

The only way I’ve stayed sane while working on my book (and blog and freelancing) are two young researchers I found (through trusted colleagues), one in San Diego and one in suburban New Jersey, neither of whom I’ve met. Their energy and attention to detail have allowed me to focus on my own tasks.

When you work on your own, it’s not always easy to find someone dependable to help you and it’s easy to forget to delegate — I found an intern from a local university one year and hired her (at $12/hr, this a decade ago) after the unpaid internship ended. It helped enormously having a fun, friendly helpful assistant.

Do you work from home? What do you enjoy? What (if anything) do you miss from working in an office or more structured/social environment?

Any tips on how to cope?

Newsweek Sexist? Forty Years Ago, Women Staffers Sued For Equal Treatment. Today, Things Aren't Much Better, There And Elsewhere

Newsweek Cover: Stephen Jay Gould
Image by Ryan Somma via Flickr

Here’s a story that may come as news to any young, ambitious female journalist — or anyone who’s convinced women are equal to men and the F-word is feminism. Old, tired, done.

Not so much, write three current Newsweek staffers, all young women, who discovered a landmark lawsuit, brought by Newsweek’s female staffers in 1970, when women there were called “dollies”.

From this week’s Newsweek cover story:

But by 1969, as the women’s movement gathered force around them, the dollies got restless. They began meeting in secret, whispering in the ladies’ room or huddling around a colleague’s desk. To talk freely they’d head to the Women’s Exchange, a 19th-century relic where they could chat discreetly on their lunch break. At first there were just three, then nine, then ultimately 46—women who would become the first group of media professionals to sue for employment discrimination based on gender under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Their employer was NEWSWEEK magazine.

In 1970, 46 women sued Newsweek for gender discrimination. Today, three young writers examine how much has changed.

Until six months ago, when sex- and gender-discrimination scandals hit ESPN, David Letterman’s Late Show, and the New York Post, the three of us—all young NEWSWEEK writers—knew virtually nothing of these women’s struggle. Over time, it seemed, their story had faded from the collective conversation. Eventually we got our hands on a worn copy of In Our Time, a memoir written by a former NEWSWEEK researcher, Susan Brownmiller, which had a chapter on the uprising.

In countless small ways, each of us has felt frustrated over the years, as if something was amiss. But as products of a system in which we learned that the fight for equality had been won, we didn’t identify those feelings as gender-related. It seemed like a cop-out, a weakness, to suggest that the problem was anybody’s fault but our own. It sounds naive—we know—especially since our own boss Ann McDaniel climbed the ranks to become NEWSWEEK’s managing director, overseeing all aspects of the company…

Yet the more we talked to our friends and colleagues, the more we heard the same stories of disillusionment, regardless of profession. No one would dare say today that “women don’t write here,” as the NEWSWEEK women were told 40 years ago. But men wrote all but six of NEWSWEEK’s 49 cover stories last year—and two of those used the headline “The Thinking Man.” In 1970, 25 percent of NEWSWEEK’s editorial masthead was female; today that number is 39 percent. Better? Yes. But it’s hardly equality. (Overall, 49 percent of the entire company, the business and editorial sides, is female.) “Contemporary young women enter the workplace full of enthusiasm, only to see their hopes dashed,” says historian Barbara J. Berg. “Because for the first time they’re slammed up against gender bias.” [NB: added boldface here mine]

My first New York City job — oh, I had high hopes! — was for Newsweek’s international edition, the skinny, onion-skin-paper version I’d bought in Africa and Europe myself. I was offered a job tryout of a month. I was warned they already had someone in mind, male, with a fresh Ivy graduate degree (I have no graduate degree). I was also competing with a friend, a lower-level employee there.

I opened the desk drawer to find Tums and aspirin. I got an attaboy note on one of my four stories, one per week, but was still shown the door, as foretold, after a month in their hallowed halls. I did get to go out for dinner with fellow staffers to a nearby Japanese restaurant, everyone confidently using only chopsticks. Luckily, I could too. The conversation was competitively smart.

As fellow True/Slant writer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen — a 12-year staff veteran of Time — has described here, working in the Ivy-educated, mostly white, mostly male ranks of Time or Newsweek is like stepping into a testosterone-soaked locker room full of shoving jocks.

I interviewed three more times over the years at Newsweek, never hired. I admit, I shrivel in job interviews — even with a book, five fellowships, two major newspaper jobs and fluency in two languages. “Do you write for The Atlantic? Harper’s?” I was asked the last time. Of every smart, ambitious, talented writer, about .0002 percent will ever crack one of those two markets, probably two of the most difficult in American journalism to penetrate.

Naively thinking this was intellectually possible without engaging my sexuality — sort of like trying to drive in neutral, as it turned out — I tried, briefly, to get to know a very senior editor there after I left my try-out, hoping he might take an interest in my work and help me try for another chance there.

To my dismay, and shock, he leaned in close at one of our lunches and said, “I can’t smell your perfume.”

Excuse me? He was older, married. I was engaged and living with my fiance. None of which matters. My perfume?

This was also discussed today between current Newsweek staffer Jessica Bennett and former staffer Lynn Povich, one of the editors who sued the magazine, on The Brian Lehrer Show, a WNYC talk and call-in show:

Bennett, at 28 a “senior writer” after four years there, said:  “We were mesmerized by the descriptions of what went on back then. We just couldn’t get enough!” Thanks to buyouts over the years, the women who’d managed to get in and hang on at Newsweek had left. “A lot of institutional knowledge was gone,” said Bennett.

Said Povich, “It’s hard to be a feminist in a ‘post-feminist’ world.”

I’d write off my own lunchtime weirdness with that editor as something dinosaur-ish, impossible today, but for the Newsweek staffers’ current stories:

If a man takes an interest in our work, we can’t help but think about the male superior who advised “using our sexuality” to get ahead, or the manager who winkingly asked one of us, apropos of nothing, to “bake me cookies.” One young colleague recalls being teased about the older male boss who lingered near her desk. “What am I supposed to do with that? Assume that’s the explanation for any accomplishments? Assume my work isn’t valuable?” she asks. “It gets in your head, which is the most insidious part.”

A recent study  of the top 15 political and news magazines found that their male by-lines (the credit line for a story’s writer) outnumbered those of women seven to one.

Plus ca change, mes cheres…

Powerless twice this month, I'm one of 500,000 Northeast homes affected by storm

Storm Damage
A typical sight here now...Image by Tobyotter via Flickr

The Westchester hotel parking lot was filled with Mercedes and Lexus, with MD and DDS plates — hotel refugees fleeing their suburban homes after this weekend’s brutal wind and rain. The diner across the street from it was so full we could barely find a spot to eat breakfast. Our newspaper delivery man — God bless his work ethic — had braved six dark flights of stairs to bring us our New York Times and New York Post.

On Friday morning I watched the tree on our terrace, the sixth and highest floor of our 50-year-old suburban New York apartment building, rocking on its base like a metronome in 50 mph winds before we brought it indoors for protection.

We lost electricity at 7pm Saturday evening, just as we were starting dinner. We often eat by candlelight, but this was now a necessity. Reading required so many candles, (we did have a flashlight), we gave up and were asleep by 8:30. Makes you appreciate 18th-century life in a whole new way.

We’re very lucky to have a hotel three blocks from our home and the rate wasn’t terrible, so, for the second time — we lost power recently in a huge snowstorm, and shared a room there that night with my Dad, visiting from Toronto — we checked in there Sunday afternoon. I can handle having no power — but when it goes, our building also loses heat and hot water and the temperatures here are still in the lower 40s.

One night in a hotel, luckily for those who can do it, is an affordable adventure; two or three, plus meals out, quickly adds up.

One occupant of the room next to our practiced cello for seven hours, lovely at first, annoying after endless sawing and scratching. They had several dogs with them. The dining room, normally an elegant quiet space, was filled with screaming infants and restless teenagers. I had hoped to use the indoor hotel pool — but it was closed due to fears of a lightning strike.

The damage to homes, landscape and people is frightening and sobering. Six people have been killed, as my former Daily News colleague Russ Buettner reports in today’s New York Times:

The scenes of devastation in the New York area were so widespread that some compared what they saw to the worst of natural disasters. Nearly everyone had a storm-related tale, mixing inconvenience and a sense of wonder at forces that effortlessly ripped trees from the ground, roots and all. And there were stories of loss and tragedy.

By the time the worst of the weekend’s storm was over, at least six people were killed, countless vehicles and homes were smashed, scores of roadways were left impassable and more than 500,000 homes had lost power — many of them to face darkness for days to come.

On Sunday, the storm’s lingering effects — and the recovery it required — became clearer…

Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Power Authority, called the storm among “the top five or six weather events that have impacted Long Island in the last 40 years.”

One of the many issues that is not receiving coverage — people who are ill, disabled and elderly who do not live in single-family homes. While news  reports and photos inevitably focus on the terrible damage done to private houses — trees crashing through windows and ceilings — millions of us here also live in multi-story apartment buildings. On our top floor, a 96-year-old woman lives alone, but usually has a a day-nurse and has a nearby daughter; we make it a point to check up on one another down the darkened hallways.

I’m under doctor’s orders right now to avoid walking and stairs until I get an injection in my hip — and had to climb down six flights of stairs to leave. The pain was so bad I wept, and I had managed to leave my codeine pills upstairs. Advil helped.

I am home now writing this on my desktop, tea freshly made, fridge humming, lights on.

How long will it be until the next time?

Are you 'undateable'? A new book suggests 311 reasons why

Ugly face
Image by darkpatator via Flickr

Sexist? Bossy? Judgmental? Hell, yeah!

A new book, ‘Undateable’ carries a list of the many ways a man can — and many do (0ften with no idea why) — completely remove himself from romantic or sexual consideration.

From the New York Post:

Horrified by a blind date flashing the huge gold chain, novelty belt buckle and Ed Hardy wear? Or are you mystified by fellows who come courting in guylights (male frosted tips), mandanas (bandanas on a dude), jorts (jean shorts) or even a bad toupee?

Well, you’re not alone, ladies. There’s a specific category for these man-gressions, and two women — one looking, one not — have written a book about these men: “Undateable,” out Tuesday.

In it, authors Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle list 311 different ways a man can “guarantee” he won’t be dating or having sex. Warning: These descriptions might be too graphic for sensitive readers.

Zandy MangoldWe took tips from “Undateable,” by Ellen  Rakieten and Anne Coyle, to evaluate Arnie Nieves’ male-functioning  wardrobe.

Zandy Mangold
We took tips from “Undateable,” by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle, to evaluate Arnie Nieves’ male-functioning wardrobe.

Photos: Undateable fashion choices


Such offenses might be: the phantom golf swing. Saying “make love.” Cellphone holsters. Satin sheets. “Star Trek”-themed sheets. Pet name for your penis. Anything from Ed Hardy. Massive gold chains with a wife-beater and so many tattoos you’re starting to freak out Sandra Bullock’s husband.

I have to admit, I once dated a man who arrived at our first date wearing — seriously — two or three cell/Blackberry holsters. This was in 1999, so he was at least an early adopter. It was almost a total deal-breaker. But….he chose a lovely restaurant, had great manners, made me laugh, was charming and fun and funny. We spent six months together.

Some of my deal-breakers: bad grooming (shaggy ear/nose hair, needs a haircut, overstyled or gelled); raggedy hands and cuticles, whether bitten or chewed; unpressed clothing (dude, get an iron!), excessive jewelry, tattoos (sorry, I know some people really love them and find them really attractive), bad manners, over-attention to phone/Blackberry/technology, total lack of curiousity about the world, zero interest in the arts or creative endeavors.

What are some of yours?

And, gentlemen, what turns you off a woman?

Stop The Presses! Bloggers To Get Official NYC Press Passes, Just In Time To Compete With New WSJ Metro Section

*(en) press pass *(nl) Perskaart *(fi) Lehdist...
Like this, but new, and cooler. Image via Wikipedia

If there is any artifact I treasure more than the oversize official NYC laminated PRESS pass I was issued while at the Daily News, it’s my green card. These two bits of plastic are as work-life-defining as anything I own.

They are, sue me, so cool. I felt some serious envy (they expire, as mine has) while covering the Madoff trial here last fall and watching everyone swagger about with theirs.

Now bloggers can get one too.

From Fishbowl NY:

We can thank blogger Rafael Martinez Alequin, who filed the lawsuit that precipitated the change.

Update: Gotham Gazette alerts us that two additional plaintiffs — the Guardian Chronicle‘s David Wallis and‘s Ralph E. Smith — also pressed the case.

Before today, journalists who worked online were routinely denied press passes, presumably owing to antiquated definitions of what it means to work in media. Frankly, we’re surprised it took this long. From today’s announcement:

Under the proposed new rules published today, to obtain a press credential, an applicant must show that he or she has covered, in person, six news events where the City has restricted access, within the two-year period preceding the application. In addition to employees of traditional news gathering organizations, the new rules cover self-employed newspersons and other individuals who gather and report the news. The new press card will be issued every two years.So it’s not like any old yahoo with a blog can get special access to exclusive or difficult-to-access events; the yahoo must be invested enough in the beat to have written about restricted events six times. Only the most dedicated bloggers get access. Seems fair.

Next month, the Wall Street Journal finally launches its new Metro section. It’s going to be fun!


Rupert Murdoch announced The Wall Street Journal‘s plans to launch a New York edition this April during a speech before the Real Estate Board of New York yesterday. Murdoch has reportedly set aside a $15 million budget for the new metro edition with the hopes of rivaling The New York Times in local news.

Murdoch, whose’ News Corporation acquired the Journal in 2007 and also owns The New York Post, had not previously acknowledged public reports over the new section, one of the worst-kept secrets in the newspaper industry. His remarks mark the Journal’s first foray into local news with a stand-alone daily section featuring articles on culture, sports, politics, and other news from New York.
“I’ve always believed that competition starts at home. So in the next few weeks, one of our other papers will be giving the Post some competition on their home turf. I’m talking about the Wall Street Journal,” said Murdoch.

Murdoch did go into further details, but did confirm that the new section “will be full color — and it will be feisty.”

New York City already has more dailies than most North American cities, but The New York Times shut down its Metro section in 2008, the Post is the Post and I don’t read the Daily News. For a city of its size and complexity, it’s still not well-covered; the obvious stories (the rich, Wall Street, sleazy politicians) get too much attention while entire communities and voices remain unheard. Manhattan gets most of the coverage and Manhattan remains a boys’ town.

I’m hardly looking to the WSJ for feminist redress but anyone, anywhere, seriously kicking butt on this stuff might do us all a bit of good.

Fire All The Teachers? Fuhgeddaboutit! New York City's 'Rubber Room' Keeps Incompetents Collecting Full Pay For Years

Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September...
You wish...Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

I wonder how many sobbing Rhode Islanders would feel if they knew their kids were stuck with crap teachers — and stuck with their already insanely high taxes paying their full salaries for sitting in “detention” as it were year after year thanks to union protections.

In New York City, these splendid exemplars of pedagogy are banished to what’s called the “rubber room”, where they spend a workday collecting full pay, accumulated sick days (and since they are never absent, that’s a lot of sick days and vacation) and growing their tax-payer paid pensions for not teaching, for staying as far away from students as possible.

They are being handsomely rewarded for not doing their jobs!

Alan Rosenfeld, reported the New York Post, has collected $700,o00 over eight years in the room.

Reports The New York Times:

The Bloomberg administration has made getting rid of inadequate teachers a linchpin of its efforts to improve city schools. But in the two years since the Education Department began an intensive effort to root out such teachers from the more than 55,000 who have tenure, officials have managed to fire only three for incompetence.

Joel I. Klein, the schools chancellor, above, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg say cumbersome state laws hamper their efforts….

Ridding schools of subpar teachers has become one of the signature issues of national education reformers, but the results in New York City show that, as is true in many school systems around the country, the process is not easy.

The city’s effort includes eight full-time lawyers, known as the Teacher Performance Unit, and eight retired principals and administrators who serve as part-time consultants to help principals build cases against teachers. Joel I. Klein, the schools chancellor, said that the team, whose annual budget is $1 million, had been “successful at a far too modest level” but that it was “an attempt to work around a broken system.”

Mr. Klein and his boss, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said they were hampered by cumbersome state laws that had been heavily influenced by the teachers’ union here, although many of the rules that govern the cases were agreed to by the city.

“The process makes it virtually impossible to remove a teacher within a reasonable amount of time,” Mr. Klein said in an interview. “Nobody thinks that the number of cases is reflective of the teachers who should be removed.”

Ten others whom the department charged with incompetence settled their cases by resigning or retiring, and nine agreed to pay fines of a few thousand dollars or take classes, or both, so they could keep their jobs.

Here’s a lively debate on the issue of how to get these teachers out for good and under what circumstances.

This Week's Plagiarist?

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14:  The New York Times he...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Another possible plagiarist?

Today’s New York Times has a mea culpa in its corrections box about business reporter Zachery Kouwe. He came to the Times in 2008 from the New York Post.

Let’s focus on one set of numbers: 24,000 print reporters lost their jobs between 2008 and 2009. The streets are filled with smart, reliable, experienced reporters who don’t use others’ copy without attribution. They know a great job is an increasingly rare prize. If you’re lucky enough to have one, why exactly would you screw it up?

Who’s next?

That's Why They Call It Conde Nasty — New Hotline Helps Colleagues Drop A Dime On Each Other

US Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour (2ndL) a...
Vogue editor Anna Wintour, in green.Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

That’s my kind of corporation! Rat out your colleagues, courtesy of an in-house hotline. Reports the New York Post:

Insiders got a memo yesterday from Chief Financial Officer John Bellando, revealing that the company set up the hotline to stop the “release of proprietary information, accounting/audit irregularities, falsification of company records, theft of goods/services/cash,” and even “unauthorized discounts/payoffs.”

This could put a damper on some of the perks inside S.I. Newhouse Jr.‘s empire.

Last fall a hacker broke into Condé’s system and stole early copies of GQ, Vogue and other magazines, which were posted online.

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Yesterday’s move seemed to put the brakes on CEO Charles Townsend‘s happiness campaign. Trying to boost morale after 2009’s turmoil and layoffs, he recently did a coast-to-coast tour to give a corporate pep talk and encourage staffers to “get their mojo back.”

Conde Nast, named for the man who founded the publishing empire in 1909 by acquiring Vogue, is legendary in Manhattan publishing circles for its elite worldview. The 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada”, starring Meryl Streep, is said to be based on Anna Wintour, long-time Vogue editor.

I interviewed at Conde Nast a few times, but never got hired there. It’s a great place to have on your resume, but maybe — now — not such a cosy place to crank out copy.

The New York Times Student Journalism Institute Ends Today; Tomorrow's Journo's

NEW YORK - JULY 23:  Copies of the New York Ti...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The Institute ends today and the students will soon scatter back to Maryland, New York, Colorado. Every year, the New York Times Student Journalism Institute selects a group of Hispanic or black college students, undergrads and grads, in alternating years, and gives them a crash course in journalism.

Editors fly in from the paper and its affiliates — The Lakeland (FL) Journal and The Boston Globe — and fill a classroom, teaching the students how to conceptualize, report, write, photograph and produce a print newspaper within 10 days of arrival in a city most of the students have never seen. They also produce Web and video reports.

A standard journalism classroom at the University of Arizona becomes a newsroom, buzzing with adrenaline, laughter and the usual detritus of coffee cups and doughnut boxes. Students sit side by side with seasoned newspaper veterans, a little stunned at first-naming Pulitzer prize winners, but quickly appreciating the chance to pick their brains.

The program is run by Don Hecker, an avuncular Times veteran; my partner works with the student photographers, whom I met. Talent!

Two of the students were military veterans. One was a female chess champion from Peru. Another had already interned for the New York Post, and we traded horror stories of stake-outs and Manhattan’s tab-world brand of madness.

Check out their work, and their videos. I think you’ll enjoy it.