Elizabeth Spiers

journalist & digital media expert

Pregnancy and privilege

Blogging has been pretty lackluster here for a while, and I suppose I alluded to why a few weeks ago: a combination of busy season with work and feeling under the weather. And I can now clarify: by “under the weather” I mean morning sickness.  And by “morning sickness” I mean all day nausea and exhaustion. (I described it to my husband as “like having a severe hangover, every day, all day, for two and half months–interrupted by occasional bouts of food poisoning.”)

Last week, I turned 38, and this little guy turned 14 weeks old:

bebe

 

He arrives in June, and we’re thrilled and grateful. (And mildly terrified, as we probably should be.)

Apparently, the crappier I feel, the healthier it is for him, so I remind myself of that while I sit in meetings trying not to vomit on my colleagues. I tend to over-schedule myself with projects, and thankfully I didn’t do that for Q4, even though we had no idea the baby was coming. But even so, it’s a big adjustment to find your energy levels sapped to half of what they usually are, and still try to function like a normal (much less productive) human being.

But it’s also made me very aware of the incredible privileges I enjoy that many people don’t. I work for myself essentially, so while I tend to book more than the standard 40 hours of work a week, I also control my time to a certain extent and can modify my schedule to accommodate things like doctor’s appointments, and if I’m really feeling like death warmed over, turn a meeting into a conference call. (I spend half my time at Flavorpill, and the co-founders, Mark Mangan and Sascha Lewis, have been incredibly understanding, which I really appreciate.) I also have a incredibly supportive husband, whose empathy and efforts have made all of it much easier. I am exceedingly lucky, and aware that many women are not.

So I’ve been following the case of Peggy Young (the former UPS worker whose suit against her former employer is now being argued in the Supreme Court) with a lot of personal interest. Critics of Young argue that her pregnancy was a personal decision and the company shouldn’t have to accommodate her as a result, because why should other people subsidize her desire to have children?

But if we treat the decision to have a child as some sort of recreational, entirely optional voluntary activity, we have to admit that only women are penalized for it at work. A thought experiment: My husband and I worked together at The New York Observer, and I was his boss. I made more money than he did, and if we’d been married then, and I had gotten pregnant, it would have been a mutual decision, not one that I made unilaterally.

And if biology were not a factor and we lived in an alternate sci-fi universe where men were capable of carrying children, we might have made a rational decision that he carry the child instead of me. After all, if I had to miss work, we’d take a bigger hit to our collective income than if he did. But that’s not the reality. If we decide to have a child, I am the one who absorbs the physical toll of it for nine months and there’s no getting around that, absent hiring a surrogate. If the Observer had accommodated me in that situation, they wouldn’t just be subsidizing my decision to have a child, they’d be ensuring that my husband could make the decision to be a father as well. For every woman having a child, there is usually a spouse or significant other somewhere who made the same decision but will face no negative repercussions for it professionally. And you don’t see anyone framing a man’s decision to have a child as anything less than admirable. It’s not a “voluntary decision” he made in lieu of focusing on his career.

So I feel for Peggy Young and women like her who are treated by their employers as if the normal difficulties of pregnancy–and the decision to have a child at all–are a failure of work ethic and possibly character. Life isn’t fair, but we have a moral obligation to make it as just as we can. And this isn’t something only women should be fighting for. If you’re a man and you think you want kids in the future, or you have them already, you should have a vested interest in making sure the woman who bears your children isn’t punished for it.

Maybe I’ll just take a break from Facebook…

The Root has a good piece up on how to deal with friends’ racist reactions to Ferguson on social media. It’s sadly necessary, at least for me. In my fifteen years living in New York, I’ve found myself arguing on many occasions that not everyone in my homestate of Alabama is racist, homophobic and generally averse to progress, but then I look at my Facebook feed and find that a good number of my high school classmates seem determined to prove me wrong on that count.

The rhetoric around Ferguson is particularly nasty, ranging from assertions that black people are somehow inherently inferior to just incredibly blind acceptance of Darren Wilson’s narrative that Michael Brown was behaving aggressively while going out of their way to disregard all other testimony. (It’s worth noting that Alabama’s fairly gun happy and people think any display of aggression at all is reason enough to shoot someone dead, but it’s particularly convenient for people who believe any young black man who is any way subverting white authority should be punished in the harshest possible way.)

The same thing happened when gay marriage was a big item on the national agenda and there were the usual worn-out and brain-dead cliches about homosexuality being a choice, typically followed by a Bible verse* that did little beyond telegraphing the post author’s lack of theological training. (It doesn’t surprise me that Alabama is #2 on this list. As usual, the state is only redeemed by the even more appalling behavior of Mississippians.)

The Biblical rhetoric that bookends those displays of hatred particularly irritates me because I grew up Southern Baptist and my understanding of the religion is that in its best form, it’s fundamentally about compassion and the recognition that we’re all imperfect (“sinners” in Biblical parlance) but redeemable. And spewing vile crap about black people displays none of that compassion, being completely unable to empathize with the large swaths of people in this country who face systemic systemic discrimination on a daily basis displays none of that compassion, being unwilling to empathize with Michael Brown or his family displays none of that compassion, and being unwilling to look at the hard data on the extent to which black people in this country are subjected to police harassment because you want to believe they deserve it displays none of that compassion.  There is so much self-righteousness and so little empathy. And hatred rooted in your own sense of self-righteousness doesn’t justify itself.

I had a conversation a while back with a friend who asked me why so many poor white southerners were so inclined to hate non-white people, gay people, women as a class. Or conversely, why do the bigots tend to be poor? I said that A) they don’t. Most of the people posting racist things to my FB page right now are squarely middle class and some of them, by cost of living standards in the state, are fairly well off. B) But inasmuch as some of the bigots are poor, uneducated, unaccomplished, and so on, they have very little to feel superior about and if they can convince themselves that being white–or male, or straight–brings with it some sort of moral superiority or superiority of judgment, that’s pretty much all they have to cling to. They have nothing but their hatred to make them feel better about themselves.

And here I could launch into a Not All Alabamians digression, but I think everyone knows that.

There are many things I love about my home state, but the pervasive bigotry is the one major reason why I’d never move back there. We plan to have kids, and I do not want them exposed to that. That’s not to say that racism and homophobia don’t exist in New York, but it’s a matter of degree, and it’s just better here on that count. You can’t live in this city and not be exposed to people who aren’t like you. And if I have to choose, I’m going to opt for the city where my kid will never get forwarded an email comparing the US President to a monkey, preceded by the caveat “I’m not racist, BUT….”  I can handle it, but I’m not going to subject a child to it.

In the meantime, I’m just going to point you to the donation page of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’re based in Montgomery, Alabama, where I was born, and they do hard, necessary, fantastic work.

*Somehow all of the praying in public types gloss over the well-known story where Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites for doing the same thing. But cherry picking doctrine is also par for the course.

To Comment, or Not to Comment

Fred Wilson has a post up today about Re/Code’s decision to eliminate comments, and not surprisingly, there’s a heated discussion about it… in the comments. (I commented on it, and maybe predictably, some blowhard called me a child for disagreeing with him, and then proceeded to mansplain journalism to me, thereby demonstrating the downside of interacting with commenters solely on the basis that they’re there.)

So far, I haven’t taken comments off of any site I’ve launched, but mostly because I work primarily on niche sites and it’s easier to maintain quality around discrete topics because the community builds itself around those interests and not just the momentum that develops when people have strong emotional reactions to viewpoints with which they disagree. Which is not to say the comments never get ugly. Dealbreaker and AboveTheLaw have pretty tight commenting communities with return users who have built their own identities as commenters on those properties, and people who are not interested in finance and law are unlikely to just wade in. But unless you’re approving every comment before it goes up, things can still degenerate.

For many media companies, community building is an important priority, especially when advertisers are increasingly using “engagement” as a performance metric even though they often fail to distinguish between pointless dust ups that increase comment counts and thoughtful discussions that reflect well on their brands. That said, news orgs don’t necessarily have those mandates, and when comments detract from the business of reporting the news–which is any news org’s primary mandate–then maybe it’s time to get rid of comments.

Naturally, most commenters don’t see their own commenting being detrimental in any way because they usually view their opinions as having equal weight to the byline on the article. Everyone thinks they understand how reporting should be done, even if they have no training or expertise in the field. If you’re a journalist, this is deeply annoying, but it’s also what you sign up for when you go into the industry, so you suck it up when your drunk relative rails at you about “the corrupt mainstream media that refuses to report on where the President was born” during Thanksgiving. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some non-journo yell at me in comments for not talking to a particular source because they don’t understand reporting processes, and it doesn’t occur to them that I did in fact talk to that source, but off the record and that I can’t disclose that.) Everyone is going to have an opinion about how you’re doing your job, and the fact that it can be ill-informed and wrong doesn’t really make a difference. The same is true in many non-technical professions. It’s an occupational hazard.

Which is not to say that people don’t have a right to their opinions. Obviously, they do. I don’t have any training in heart surgery, but I probably still have an opinion about my cardiologist. But here’s the thing: I don’t expect my cardiologist to change the way he does surgery based on my amateur opinion and a lot of commenters not only expect that from journalists, they practically demand an apology for the journalist’s failure to produce the exact story they wanted to read.**

And here’s where commenting can be detrimental to news orgs:

Providing it is not free for the news org. 

Comments generally require some form of moderation and journalists themselves are not always equipped to do that, nor should they be doing that. There’s a lot of gray area re: what constitutes impropriety, offensiveness, etc., and the parameters around what’s acceptable can be very fluid. And no matter how tight and well-articulated your TOS is, people are going to violate those parameters, and if you kick them off the platform, the worst of them will find a way to get back in. And this is on top of the defamation threats when one commenter attempts to libel another (or the subject), the personal harassment subjects and reporters can get because the commenter doesn’t like the story, and so on. If you’re going to have a commenting community, it requires dedicated resources and a certain amount of tolerance for potential liability. And if you’re Kara Swisher, you might reasonably decide that the money is better spent on more reporting.

Comments can derail and distort the conversation around the story. 

This doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, all of hard work in reporting the right story and reporting it well has gone down the drain because the loudest voice in the conversation has undermined it. So understandably some news orgs might feel that this actually undermines their mission.

The tenor of the conversation affects the organization’s brand, which can actually hurt monetization. 

If you run a site that ostensibly targets a sophisticated audience and your comment section is full of people calling each other names, nihilistically trolling each other and spewing sub-literate nonsense, it’s going to be hard to convince an advertiser that you actually have that audience.  And sometimes even aggressive community management can’t fix this problem. (I see this a lot on trade sites that cover politics, btw.)

All of which is not to say that healthy commenting communities can’t be valuable for news orgs. (Nick Denton’s staking the future of Gawker Media on the possibility that they can reshape how news is delivered and interpreted.) But they don’t come without risks or costs. I wouldn’t take comments off of Flavorwire, but I can think of 10 good reasons why Re/Code removing them is the right decision.

And if you think all of the above is bullshit and you’re furious that Re/Code isn’t letting you use their platform to voice your opinions anymore, you’re in luck. Anyone can start their own website and build an audience. There are no barriers to entry anymore. Ten years ago, when Denton was not so enthusiastic about commenting, his line on the issue was that anyone could have a dissenting opinion, but he didn’t have to publish it on his site. You don’t like what’s on this blog? You can get your own! No one is stopping you! It has never been easier for you to have a voice, and that would still be true if every mainstream media org in the country disabled comments.

** if you want to be depressed for the next hour, look at the comments on any of the early stories about Bill Cosby’s rape allegations and look at the number of people defending him and accusing journalists of sensationalizing sordid allegations because they’re jealous/corrupt/only in it to get clicks. Ask the hard questions… and someone will always have a problem with it in the comment section and accuse you of corruption.

Already Over You, Fall-Slash-Winter.

Fall is my least favorite part of the year work-wise. Everyone tries to cram a lot of last-minute stuff into Q4 and there’s a lot of scrambling and in the middle of it, all of the holiday goings-on and attempts at collective formalized seasonal merriment. (Merriment is not my bailiwick generally.) But the last few weeks have been kind of miserable. I think it’s the combination of the cold*, the fact that I’ve been under the weather quite a bit lately and not 100% anyway, and maybe the realization that I’ve spent 89.3% of my waking hours in the last two months in meetings or on conference calls** that are making me particularly cranky.  Life Is An Endless Update Meeting (That Could Have Easily Been Done Over Email).

And I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve had a lot of friends talk to me about burnout recently. It’s really hard to recharge during busy season.

I don’t have a good solution, either. I suppose I should clear my schedule of meetings for a bit, strap one of these suckers to my face and go on some Kurzweilian supplement regiment that will make me feel healthier and allow me to persist in some humanoid form until the Singularity comes. It’s unlikely that’ll happen though–at least on the meetings front.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll console myself with a comforting affirmation I always like to remember this time of year: at least I don’t live in Boston. 

* I grew up in a state where it’s usually a balmy 68 degrees on Christmas morning and that, combined with my questionable genetics mean I loathe cold weather. I love New York enough to put up with the cold, but I’d have no objection if we moved New York a few latitudes south.

** That’s a rough estimate. It might be more like 92.4%. Meeting proliferation is a serious problem for me these days. Too often meetings are confused with actual work.

How many women does Bill Cosby have to rape before NBC cancels his show?

50? 100? 1,000?

Bill Wyman had a must-read essay in CJR last week about why the much of the press hasn’t been asking Bill Cosby about rape allegations. As a journalist, this really gets under my skin. In a lot of cases, it just boils down to cowardice. A lot of people are cowed by celebrity and unfortunately some of those people happen to work in my industry.

I’m particularly disappointed in Mark Whitaker, who I think of as a good journalist, but declined to address the issue in his biography of Cosby. His excuse:

“I never intended to write a book that dwelled at length on his sex life,” Whitaker replied. “It wasn’t what I was interested in. I was focusing on his professional career and accomplishments, his legacy, and his impact on society. … I basically decided that I was going to report when it came to his personal life what I could independently confirm and say actually happened. Things that I couldn’t independently confirm weren’t going to be included in the book.”

Apparently, Whitaker couldn’t independently confirm on-the-record allegations that had already been reported by other outlets (though not as extensively as they should have been.) It’s also preposterous to assume you can talk about his professional life and gloss over how it enabled him to engage in violent, criminal acts that are generally not tolerated by society–and get away with it for so long. The narrative of the likable, powerful man was considered superior and more authentic than the narratives of the powerless, no-name women he victimized, who were assumed to be using him for his celebrity.

If I had to guess, in Whitaker’s case, these things were probably negotiated off the table before Cosby agreed to be interviewed for the book, so Whitaker was probably contractually obligated to avoid those questions. But if that’s the case, Whitaker shouldn’t have allowed those issues to be omitted in exchange for access. Surely he knows how to do a good write-around.

Generally, serial rapists with 13+ victims–another came forward this weekend, and I’ve lost count–end up in prison for a very, very long time. But it’s probably safe to say that 50 more women could come forward and the likelihood that Cosby ends up in one of our nation’s finest maximum security penitentiary institutions is still very low.

Also appalling is the fact that in light of the allegations, NBC is still moving forward on a show with Cosby slated for 2015. This says something about what the network believes about the durability of his brand. (Or their greed. A cancellation would probably be expensive, and Cosby is so unrepentant at this point, I’m sure he’d sue.) But if raping 14 women isn’t enough to tarnish his brand, what is?

 

For PR People: How Not to Cold Pitch a Journalist / Editor

I’ve probably written a variation of this post before, but I can’t find it at the moment, and given the state of my inbox and voicemail, it’s evident that it all bears repeating.  And the last couple of weeks, there have been some fairly egregious abuses, so I’m in a particularly foul mood with regard to pitching etiquette right now. So here are some rules of thumb when pitching outlets:

1. The person at the very top of the masthead is probably not the person you should pitch. 

Why? Because the person at the top of the masthead has far more responsibilities than simply assigning stories, and will likely forward your pitch (if it’s good and relevant) to the appropriate editor if they aren’t already slightly annoyed at you for being too lazy to identify the proper person to pitch in the first place.  If you’re pitching the editor in chief, you should be aware that they spend much of the day managing the publication at the top level and are not personally assigning every tiny thing that comes out of the publication. And if they’re higher on the masthead than the EIC, it’s unlikely that they’re personally assigning anything at all. (And if they are micromanaging to that extent, it’s not likely that they’ll be at the top of the masthead for very long.) It also says something else about the person that’s pitching: you sincerely believe that going over the heads of the appropriate staffers will get you what you want. In practice, it mostly just alienates the people you should have gone to in the first place.

2. If you insist on disregarding #1, lower your expectations about response.

I get close to 100 pitches a day right now, and if I responded to all of them, it’d eat up a third of my work day. And here’s the rub: it’s my responsibility to run a good publication, not to respond to PR pitches. So I have zero obligation to ever respond. A PR person informed me once that the publication wouldn’t exist without the beneficence of people like himself, and therefore I owed it to him to respond personally to every stupid email pitch he clogged my inbox with. It gave me a good laugh considering that I had not assigned a single story off of a pitch in my entire tenure, but I still don’t know where that kind of delusional thinking and sense of entitlement comes from. Journalists and editors are responsible for generating their own stories (ideally via actual reporting) and unless they’re incompetent, that’s happening regardless of whether PR people are pitching them.

3. Do not ever phone pitch me.

I don’t know a single editor who takes cold phone pitches. And for good reason–they’re intrusive, disruptive to existing work, they suck up more time and they’re horribly inefficient. And if you call me on my personal mobile number and I didn’t give it to you, it’s only one step away from showing up at the doorstep of my apartment. The answer will be no, no matter how good your pitch is, because you need to respect basic professional boundaries and I’m not going to work with you if you can’t.

4. Do not leave me a voicemail or send me an email that says “call me right now” with your phone number and no indication of what you want to talk about. 

This is quite possibly the MOST annoying thing you can do. I don’t know who you are or what you want, and I don’t have the time or inclination to call you if you don’t have the decency and respect for my time to tell me what it’s about. And if you think I’m just going to be dying of curiosity about what your story is because you characterized it as “urgent” you severely overestimate the extent to which I care what a total stranger thinks is urgent. I will decide if it’s urgent, thanks.

There was one guy who did this to me repeatedly at the Observer, leaving voicemails that said, “Elizabeth, this is John Smith. Call me ASAP at xxx-xxx-xxxx.” I had no idea who John Smith was. I was busy putting out a newspaper, multiple web properties that published hourly and a host of ancillary glossy publications on top of general managerial and operational responsibilities, but in this guy’s mind, the most important thing I should be doing at that moment was listening to him. After having to delete the 6th or 7th vmail like this, I googled and realized it was a PR guy. My email was publicly available, but this guy was determined to make me drop whatever I was doing, and hear him out RIGHT NOW. That is not persistence and ingenuity, it’s just asshole-ish behavior that telegraphs your sense of entitlement and lack of respect for other people and their priorities. I got an email like this yesterday and the PR person apparently has no experience so it’s somewhat forgivable, but it’s still stupid and ineffective. If I don’t know who you are, or what you want, you better tell me up front why talking to you is worth my time, because that’s one thing I don’t have in surplus. It is actually valuable to me and I resent people who waste it.

5. Make sure your pitch is actually relevant to the publication.

This would seem to be obvious, but the number of spray-and-pray PR people who are happy to clog my inbox with things they know I will never ever assign appears to be growing. Just because you can hit send on an email with zero effort doesn’t mean you should. You may think this a low effort way to promote something to lots of editors at once, but if you do it to me, I’m going to filter your email address directly into trash. And maybe that’s not a big consequence for you. But one day you’re going to have a pitch that I would actually be open to hearing, and I’m not ever going to see it. So try it at your own risk.

Finally, if I sound pissed off here it’s because I just spent two hours cleaning out my voicemail and inbox of inappropriate crap–and just a week’s worth. I generally keep my email address public because I’m open to things like pitches and contact from people I don’t know. But the level of abuse is making me rethink that.

And I should note that I also know plenty of PR people who are good at their jobs, consummate professionals, and they know how to pitch things that are appropriate and relevant. I like those people and I think they can play a valuable role in facilitating good work. But my patience with the assholes is increasingly shorter.

Hiring: Editor in Chief

I’m hiring for a new project: 

Casper is seeking a full-time editor-in-chief to run an independent media property that covers sleep and related lifestyle issues and stories, from the science of sleep to bedroom décor to your favorite things to do in bed.

The editor-in-chief will manage all editorial functions, including assigning and editing articles, posts and video projects and ensuring that the site’s content aligns with the site’s mission, style and tone. The editor in chief will manage a small full-time team of writers, editors and other editorial personnel. Job functions include

- Assigning and editing original content

- Overseeing other aspects of production, including art direction

- Implementing and managing workflow processes associated with editorial

- Analyzing and evaluating data to determine most effective editorial and marketing practices and adjusting strategies accordingly

Applicants should have at least 5 years of experience as an editor at an online publication, including some management experience, and be prepared to work in a demanding, fast-paced environment that publishes several times daily. Building and growing audience on an early stage website or online community is a plus. Candidates should also have some basic journalism experience and a track record of commissioning and creating original content that is compelling and unique. Experience in science writing and journalism is also a plus.

The ideal candidate has experience with and enthusiasm for growing new media properties from scratch and can translate the company’s mission into cohesive, captivating editorial that engages readers and keeps them coming back for more.

Compensation will consist of a competitive base salary with an additional potential bonus contingent upon traffic performance. Applicants should be familiar with WordPress and basic analytics tools such as Chartbeat and Google Analytics, and have fluency with social media and social media analytic tools.

The position is based in New York City. Send cover letters and resumes to me at espiers AT gmail.com, subject line: Casper EIC.

Monday List

PENTAGRAM’S WORLD CHESS SET.

There’s no way I could/would shell out USD$450 for a chess set, but this Pentagram designed rosewood/maple set is very, very nice. (And my skill level at chess suggests that I don’t deserve to play on anything nicer than Milton Bradley-grade equipment.)

MORE QUIET, PLEASE, (ASSHOLES).

One of the advantages of living further out in the borough is that it’s generally quieter. But there are two exceptions: car alarms and assholes on motorcycles. I don’t know what happened to this alarm ordinance, which may be the only good thing that John Liu was ever involved in, but I spent much of the last hour listening to a neighbor’s alarm blaring incessantly and while I’ve never been tempted to commit violence against an automobile before, I just came very close. The motorcyclists were worse when I lived in the West Village and they’d come roaring through, well above the 82 decibel limit at all hours–but there have been quite a few here, too. I have to wonder just how big of an asshole you have to be to be to get off on disrupting the lives of people who’ve done nothing to you. I’m a healthy person who doesn’t have kids, and it infuriates me, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who’ve just finally gotten their infants to sleep, or are dealing with illnesses and need rest or anything where that kind of noise seriously screws with their ability to live their lives in peace in their own neighborhoods. How little empathy do you have to have for other human beings to be that much of a jerk? Maybe I’m just getting old, but my patience for it is pretty thin at this point. So be forewarned: if you come roaring through my neighborhood at 100 decibels, Grandma Spiers is going to snap a photo of your license plate and send it to the cops. (Presumably, Chief Broken Windows occasionally enforces things that cause broken eardrums.**) And if that doesn’t work, she may hunt you down and park a car with an unstoppable shrieking alarm in front of your house at 2 in the morning.

AFTER HENRY, by Joan Didion

I just read Joan Didion’s essay collection, After Henry, which includes, among other work, her essay “Sentimental Journeys” which is nominally about the 1989 Central Park jogger case and the five kids who were accused of raping and beating her. The essay first appeared in The New York Review of Books, and is referenced in Martin Scorsese’s excellent new HBO documentary on TNYRB, The 50 Year Argument. You can read the entire thing online, and if you haven’t and you live in NYC, you probably should. It’s not a pretty New York story, but it’s an essential one–about inequality in New York, the way the narrative of the city is constructed, and how the latter conspires to obscure the former.

** In my experience, the perpetrators are usually middle-aged white dudes, and I’d imagine some of them are biker cops, which may have something to do with the lack of enforcement.

 

Admin note: I didn’t give up on blogging; I was just severely under the weather last week. (It’s hard to get motivated to blog or do much of anything else when your two primary concerns are more sleep and trying not to vomit.) I think this week will be better. And FYI, this stuff is the nectar of the gods if you happen to be having stomach issues.

In the meantime, Flavorpill is hiring for several things, including a VP of Revenue.

No, I won’t be going to The Gutter, but it’s because I’m ambivalent about hipster bowling.

I put this on Facebook for concerned Alabamians related to me, but thought I’d reiterate here:

re: Ebola in NYC: I don’t think anyone’s freaking out over it. NYC has an enormously sophisticated response system (especially post-9/11) and hospitals here are equipped to deal with this sort of thing because the assumption is that eventually it would have to. I don’t think it came as a surprise. And as an acquaintance put it, “I think New York will be fine. Avoiding other people’s bodily secretions is already a big part of riding the subway in NYC.” I also think the city has done a good job of educating people about how Ebola actually gets transmitted and that all of the people who’ve been diagnosed in the US had direct exposure to late-stage Ebola patients who were vomiting and bleeding. (Most of them have been doctors volunteering in West Africa.) So I don’t expect Ebola hysteria any time soon and I’ve been here through 9/11, blackouts, Sandy. It takes a lot to rattle New Yorkers.