the kicker

Dan Baum Twitters About His Ex, The New Yorker

May 11, 2009

Dan Baum, a staff writer for The New Yorker until he was fired in 2007, is now on a book tour, where people always ask him why he doesn’t write for The New Yorker anymore. So Baum is telling his New Yorker saga serially, one tweet at a time (starting last Friday and numbering now over sixty).

We learn that Baum, who wrote several Hurricane Katrina-related pieces during his New Yorker tenure, found the editing at the magazine “lovely” (although he also writes that “the magazine does run everything through the deflavorizer”), that working with those notorious fact checkers was like having “a team of back-up reporters,” and that being at The New Yorker offices was like “being in a hospital room where somebody is dying,” “there’s a weird tension to the place. If you raise your voice to normal level, heads pop up from cubicles.”

Baum links to his failed New Yorker story proposals and concludes “that some stories will always be too big for” Twitter but I’m finding Baum’s “truncated online bursts” of serial storytelling oddly compelling.

UPDATE: Ok, novelty’s worn off for me. All this time, all these tweets, only to learn that Baum believes he was canned by The New Yorker because– although he’d “come to believe that all that matters is the quality of the work on the page”– he “did not endear” himself to David Remnick. And he’s trying to string it out for another day: “Let’s all take a break and get some work done. I’ll finish this tomorrow.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.