Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] “Learn to Code”: The Meme Attacking Media (theringer.com)
41 points by minimaxir 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

I've got no desire to kick people when their down, and make no mistake, these journalists are down. However, there is a tendency for people in media to look down on people with blue collar jobs, and to minimize the difficult of being an effective software engineer. It has resulted in a bunch of $group_of_unemployed_people should just get with the times posts.

I'd feel bad for them if they didn't do it to other people first.

This is all kinds of wrong. I'm a happy software engineer (feel I should add that I'm not with any of the firms or related firms to those in the article) working closely with the media and hold a strong belief in journalism's positive effect on my society. Even if I don't always directly benefit. I'm a little speechless with regard to the immediate responses in this thread. I've not always had a great time with journalists in where I've lived, but I'd take them over the other options any day.

I don't think your take is accurate. I'd be happy to talk it out.

"They". Who is they? All journalists everywhere? It's not like being a journalist is like being a fortune 500 CEO, or some kind of Zuckerberg. I think you'll find they are human for the most part.

I must be blind to these so do you have any solid examples where the people who are doing the jobs are being talked down to?

I don't know if these qualify but google search for "coal miners coding" turns up a ton of pieces about some coal miners shifting work to coding. Presumably these people think such profiles are kind of condescending as the implied story is "your blue collar career is on the outs and your labor has no value."







The nature of journalism is that outlets report on things that are happening in the world. If these stories were just long opinion pieces about why former coal miners should code, that would be one thing and the criticism would be valid. But each of these pieces linked is literally a reported out piece about actual people and groups teaching people to code.

You could probably go back and forth on whether the idea condescends to blue-collar workers. But the fact is, there wouldn't be these stories if the trend didn't exist and there wasn't a legitimate effort to make it happen before a reporter gave someone a call.

There's nothing implied at all. They are blue collar workers. Their career is on the decline because the mines are closing and there aren't enough new ones opening up to simply transfer the existing labour force to the new mines. So you retrain these people for work that is available.

Can you find any of these articles published on BuzzFeed? The problem with this criticism is that it claims that all journalists have the same opinion on blue-collar-retraining issue.

> However, there is a tendency for people in media to look down on people with blue collar jobs,...

In what universe is journalism a blue-collar job?

Some people mistake blue collar to mean middle class, instead of tradesman (ie white collar is where you don't have to worry about getting your shirt dirty). Journalism is certainly white collar work, regardless of how it pays.

Not the one which includes the text you highlighted.

Edit: Ok so if I'm going to be cynical I like to at least be right about things. It has been pointed out that I am, in fact, wrong. So here is my best attempt at breaking out the series of events.

Expensive, Pulitzer prize finalist journalists, a part of BuzzFeed News (BFN) are cut.

BuzzFeed (BF) contributors rightfully lament the loss of their co-workers.

The internet, including me apparently, reads about this from a variety of sources and most of us reach the wrong conclusion about who is who.

Since people jumped to the wrong conclusion about who is who and what actually happened people now spamming the more reputable side of BuzzFeed, who were laid off, with "learn to code"


I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand I'm pretty confident there were at least a few legitimate journalists let go in the recent wave but boy oh boy is is hard to have sympathy for the content farmers that got the cut.

> Last week, more than 1,000 jobs were eliminated at publishers including BuzzFeed and Verizon-owned Yahoo/AOL.

I'm trying to think of the last time I intentionally sought out and consumed content from either of those two outlets. It's unfortunate that they were let go but I'm consistently surprised that BuzzFeed hasn't imploded already. But this isn't an article lamenting fellow journalists and their struggles. It's about:

> The Meme Attacking Media

And that's where I call bullshit. Is this an attack? No idea, debate away. If it's 4Chan screwing around...eh maybe, I guess? I'm more inclined to believe this is people on this internet punching down at people who are now in bad circumstances. Someone found a more effective way to punch and it took off.

The thing that I call issue with is that this is "the media". Following some of the link chains we can see that:

> In 2018, Vox, Vanity Fair, Vice, GQ, Vogue, Teen Vogue, the New York Daily News, Good Media Group, Glamour, The Outline, Refinery29, and CNN experienced layoffs

Depending on politics and specific interests some will see outlets they care about in that list, some won't. But it seems like people aren't talking about the reporters laid off from Vanity Fair, The New York Daily News, or CNN. No we're getting BuzzFeed spam that have managed to turn their own demise into more bloody BuzzFeed spam. I'm not sure if I should be impressed or really mad.

I think you might be railing against the wrong beast...


Agreed. Attacking Buzzfeed is easy as a "content farm" but the teams let go were primarily in the national security / politics teams, not the teams creating the stupid (but entertaining for many) top 10 listicles.

Yep. In other words, the expensive journalistic staff.

Seeing you across this thread as someone who doesn't just dismiss journalism! I'm looking forward to seeing what The Markup [1] comes out with on the data-driven tech-focused journalism front. Saw their managing editor talk last week and I'm tentatively hopeful...

[1] https://themarkup.org/

I may very well be and thank you for pointing that out. I honestly couldn't tell you the difference between those organizations without something like that link. But was it "BuzzFeed News" that got the layoffs or just "BuzzFeed"?

I think you'd be hard pressed to find many people who could separate BuzzFeed from BuzzFeed News. Hell I'm actively looking for those distinctions now and it's more confusing than I would have expected.

Looks like it was explicitly BuzzFeed News. It was in the article. And Pulitzer seemed to make the distinction, so I'll take their word for it. I'm not otherwise qualified.


Hmmm. I still don't see it in this article at least but good on ya for knowing and pointing out that difference.

That tweet I linked is in the article... but cheers...

>"Learn to code" is not a viral phrase that’s being spammed to out-of-work journalists; it’s a targeted attack disguised as a meme.

I emphatically sympathize with the journalist who have been recently let go. However, I wish there were a better way to define the difference between a meme and a targeted attack. Maybe Twitter should think about banning political speech or be upfront and adapt club-penguin levels of moderation.

Consider the "Vax-Happened" meme. This is a funny meme that is a "targeted attack" on a specific group. Really, most political speech is an attempt at a targeted attack / meme. "Republicans only care about rich people", "Liberals want to take all of your money in taxes". "Bernie bros are aren't living in the real world".

In terms of internet culture, this is hardly the first meme in poor taste designed to cause trouble. I think the point is setting the bar so low in terms of offense that to be offended seems more ridiculous. It's like when my 6 year old hones his annoyance to be so quiet that I can't hear in the front of the car, but the whispery weird noises cause his sister to squeal.

This new appropriation of "learn to code" is more personally insidious to me than other radicalized phrases and gestures. I like coding and hope everyone learns to code to some proficiency.


>I emphatically sympathize with the journalist who have been recently let go.

I don't, hopefully they all get fired.

Please don't post unsubstantive comments to HN, regardless of how you feel about journalists.

This oddly reminds me of gamergate whereby engaging on the facts seems to side you with the abusers.

> “Learn to code” is more than internet schadenfreude. It’s also the most recent rallying cry of an anti-media faction.

The same media that just days before were busy firing up an online mob to harass a 16 year old child who had the audacity to wear a MAGA hat.

Why would anybody be 'anti-media' one wonders?

Know that I really don't intend to upset anybody or attack people unjustly for their ideologies when I say this: I think your point probably has legs, but could be made much more convincingly with other examples - it's hard to use a MAGA hat as an example of an innocent thing when it's so closely associated with, and so frequently used to implicitly express, a vicious hatred of liberals. I understand that to many people who wear it, that's not part of the message, but there are many examples of people expressing themselves in ways that are not so muddied by the hatred of broader groups, and you could probably find one of those more clear-cut examples if you tried.

I'm not sure it matters about whom a false story is printed. The point is that it was false. It was rushed to print without getting the whole story.

Obviously, in the era of internet journalism it's important to get stories out as fast as possible, but (it seems to me) the incentive for getting out stories quickly that are likely to trigger outrage is pretty high.

This particular example is rather salient because it is recent,the evidence of false reporting is fairly clear, and because the cost to the victims of this journalistic malfeasance is fairly high.

The author of this article is referring to 'attacks' in the microcosm of Twitter and it was the very same accounts calling for the head of the MAGA kid who were on the receiving end of 'learn to code' comments.

That's why I drew that comparison. But yes there's possibly better examples.

> a MAGA hat [used to] implicitly express, a vicious hatred of liberals

Come on. It's a campaign item that represents support for a President that 45% of the country voted for. If you see it as a hate symbol you're projecting your own meaning on to it.

Aaah, look like you hit the nail on the hat.

It's not "targeted harassment", it's millions of people who have been looked down upon, talked down to and generally attacked by these media properties enjoying some schadenfreude while pointing out their hypocrisy (telling coal miners to learn to code...).

How is that not targeted harassment?

Many of those banned on Twitter were using language that poked fun at media departments or corporations, not specific individuals. Is targeted criticism of a corporate group now taboo? Why has it become OK to share memes criticizing Fox News, but not OK to share memes criticizing the Huffington Post editorial team?

Hyper-sensitivity to criticism of the media strikes me as misplaced. In an age where their content sits in every curated above-the-fold screen, who watches the watchmen?

How exactly is it ? Was it not targeted harassment when they were suggesting that miners should "learn to code"? Why not though? We all know that was derogatory. Does it become targeted harassment because it came from 4chan ? Or are they entitled to protection from the same type of jokes they were making?

When they were 'suggesting that miners should "learn to code"' was it in an article they wrote or was it a coordinated campaign to find people who were laid off of coal mining jobs and tweeting them "learn to code"?

Well, i don't know many miners with a twitter handle so I have no ideea whether it was a coordinated campaign or not. The fact that they worked for the media did give them reach though, what I understood from your reply is that as long as you put it in an article it's fine... just don't tweet @. That being said... 4channers should create their own Buzzfeed, you don't need journalism training for that; and just attack from there. I'm not saying i don't feel bad for the people laid off, but it' just a tweet. In bad taste, true, but it's not the first, and it will not be the last. this time though, the so called buzzwhatever journalists are the target so that is apparently worse. m2c

I don't think putting in that kind of thing in an article is"fine" but if it is in an article I would expect for you to show me where they are talking down on the workers, not just the job. I don't like coal mining so my desire to stop coal mining could be taken as "looking down" on coal mining but I DO NOT look down on the people who work in coal mines. I also don't see setting up or supporting the creation of programs that will teach these out of work coal miners a new profession as looking down on them either. I'm just trying to find why people are feeling like this because I can't find and hard evidence that they actually do talk down to these people.

Why "learn to code" though? Why not "learn to write quizes"? Why not "learn to plant potatoes". What exactly qualifies miners are prospective coders ? (this is where the actual joke began) "that kind of thing" -- you are making it sound way worse then it actually is. Most of them were targeted at the editorial department and not persons. Would the campaign be less opressive if people suggested that the laid off "learn to cook" ? That is exaclty the point, nobody looks down on coal miners and nobody looks down on coal mining. Coders on the other hand have been taken as a joke long before the twitter thing happened. look no further than Mr. Trump

What exactly is the reason a miner can't learn to be a code? The reason they are teaching code is because it is looked as a skill with a lot of demand which is the whole point of the programs that teach in-demand skills. I honestly don't follow what "Coders on the other hand have been taken as a joke long before the twitter thing happened. look no further than Mr. Trump" means, can you rephrase it?

You have to view it within the context of what Twitter does allow. For instance there's been weeks of people fighting about the Covington High School kids with people on both sides hurling insults far beyond "learn to code" at each other and Twitter as done nothing. In fact many of the journalists "targeted" for this were extremely vicious in their condemnation of the teens, town, church, republicans...

I suspect that this happened leading up to the layoffs only heightened people's interests in seeing the journalists get a taste of their own medicine.

Why exactly did you quote targeted? You are saying specifically that people are targeting these journalists, you just have no sympathy that they are being targeted.

"Targeted" implies they are being harassed. I don't see this as harassment as much as the fair result of their own actions and people correctly leveraging an open platform.

maccio92 21 days ago [flagged]

And it's not "anti-media" it's anti-tabloid. BuzzFeed listicles, quizzes, all that shitty content that's plagued the internet and social media for years. Good fucking riddance.

BuzzFeed News was a very different product compared to much of the rest of the company.

"Ah! You see it was a right handed weapon the assailant used, and I only use my left. Obviously I can't be the person you're searching!"

Unfortunately, it's pretty easy to simply attack whatever outlet one wishes and label them as such (tabloid, fake news, pick your insult).

Setting aside conflating attacks with voicing opinions, there's also this:


1. Nobody got laid off at any of the publications that wrote the stories in that image.

2. The reporters wrote the stories based on actual events. None of these pieces are "takes" recommending this. They are reported-out stories.

3. They didn't start the initiatives that led to the stories. If you've got a problem with it, go criticize the people that started these initiatives to assist these communities.

4. There are also initiatives to bring journalists into these areas to better report on them. https://thegroundtruthproject.org/call-applications-appalach...

Those initiatives were also decried as attacks on miners by the laid off journalists?

Aren’t those actual events ? Those are people with previous coal mining experience that are now coding.

It’s like reading about teens that built apps.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact