So here’s a question for the Paper of Record: Can a reporter ethically accept a gift from a company he covers if the reporter gives it to a family member, or a friend? We ask because superstar tech reporter Nick Bilton admitted to doing so—or at least attempting to—on last week’s episode of Leo Laporte’s "This Week in Tech" podcast. Here’s what Bilton said:
Professional underminer Mike Albo mourns the halcyon early 90s in today's Critical Shopper column. Also, the Times still hasn't caught on to the fact that he only ever makes fun of the impulse to buy or own fancy clothes: "I know it's not 1993 anymore, but some of these prices still gave me pause. Fourteen years ago these clothes would have been incomprehensible to me. If I had walked in, listening to Letters to Cleo on my portable CD player, I would have reacted like a cave man who, hurtled through time, had come across a microwave and was dumbfounded, 'Wha? $135 for T-shirt? Me no understand.'" Also: " was a carefree, de-gorgeous era, when I often wore girl's-size thermals printed with snowflakes or flowers and $3 thrift store bell-bottoms. I even knotted my hair in Bjork buns." HOT.
Mike Albo, our Gawker Underminer columnist, writes the Times' Critical Shopper column today: "I guess I was enchanted by A.P.C. But at some point, I began to feel a little imprisoned, too. Not necessarily by the lovely clothes, but by our entire era of perfect fits and meticulous hipness. Part of me wanted to just get naked and wrap myself up in the burlap curtain and scream." Mike. Honey. Is everything okay? Oh, no reason. You just seem kind of... not-okay. You know? No, I mean of course you look fine! Better than fine! Decent, even! It's just that it kind of seems like writing the Critical Shopper column is making you sort of... how do I put this. Crazy! Ha, you are so crazy! Seriously, though, you're crazy. Maybe seek help.
Here's one of the ironies at the heart of the Mike Albo thing: His success makes other writer-types feel sorta... undermined! Reassuringly, though, the "Underminer" writer is still broke. But wait, is that actually reassuring? It might actually be incredibly depressing! After all, if Mike Albo can't get paid, what hope is there for everyone else? And it's completely true that Mike Albo can't get paid; he recently told genius blog Bazima that the hardest thing about being a writer is "getting fucking paid from magazines that owe me money like Blackbook (1400 dollars) and Mens Vogue (1715 dollars)." So what's Mike's plan? "[One of my current obsessions is] whether I should move to LA because I don't have any money and even though I have finally, after 15 years, made it to the point where I am writing for the Times and NY Mag and whatever. I can't live off writing for magazines. So I would rather write crap for TV and get fucked over for 30,000 dollars than 2,000." Gah. Are those really the choices an adult should have to make? —Emily