Sketches Society

The Busiest Man in Journalism

A Zoom call with the New York Times’ New York Times correspondent, David Gallipoli-Jones.

Hello David, thanks for talking to us. How are you doing these days?

I’m ok. We’ve all been working from home for a while now. Obviously I’ve been pretty busy these last few months, what with everything that’s going on right now. (Laughs.)

You’re the New York Times’ New York Times Correspondent. Can you tell us about what a normal working day involves?

Honestly it depends. In essence, my job is to make sure that everyone in the world knows about every single thing that’s happening at the New York Times, all day, every day, more or less non-stop, regardless of whether they read it or care. That means some days I’m writing about editorial policy, sometimes it’s hanging a journalist’s dirty laundry out to dry – some days it’s just because a columnist has written something incredibly stupid and everyone needs to know that. So in that sense it’s a pretty varied beat.

How has working from home affected your work?

Honestly, less than you might imagine. At the Times we think of ourselves as less of a like, old-fashioned ‘paper’, and more of a global juggernaut that’s cannibalising the discourse whilst acting as a strawman for everyone’s sense of ideological embattledness? If that makes sense?

That’s a really neat way of putting it. So how does this beat differ from other jobs you’ve had?

Well, I used to be the New Yorker correspondent for the Washington Post and that’s a whole different thing: interviewing fact-checkers, cartoonists, getting security clearance if you wanna talk to Remnick, blah blah. That’s all more rarified and complex. What I love about covering the Times is you’re writing for this huge audience of seven or eight billion people, all of whom want and need up-to-the-minute information about the Times style guide, its editorial meetings, spats between the staff and so on.

Because people need to know.

Right! They really do.

You can forget how lucky you are to have a job like this. I mean when I started it was just amazing. You’re just looking over someone’s shoulder at their inbox and you’re suddenly like: wait, I’m talking to a guy who gets emails from Ross Douthat?! (Laughs.) I mean, am I in heaven?

Then of course you kind of settle into the beat, you start writing stories. And you forget just how privileged you are to have that kind of access. You’re dredging through documents and it feels like – you know, like work – and you kind of have to say to yourself: dude, you’re reading through a hundred pages of private Slack conversations about a mildly controversial opinion journalist – it doesn’t get any better than this! So you have to stay humble, stay grounded about it. You have to keep your sense of wonder.

Is that a hint about what you’re working on?

I can’t say too much. Let me just say that if you thought the Cotton Op-ed was big… (Long pause.)

How fascinating. I can’t wait till it’s all I’m hearing about. Can I ask what the Cotton Op-ed looked like from the inside?

As a journalist, you’re so lucky to be at the centre of a story like that. Which isn’t to say it’s not exhausting. It’s crazy. But then you go home at night and you see that the paper you work for has published seven or eight opinion columns about one of the opinion columns it previously published. And you remember why you got into this industry. You lie there and think: the interests of the people are being served here. The system works.

I think that story really brought that back home to me.

Because it’s about democracy?

Exactly. And this is an important point that sometimes gets overlooked. Because nothing is more important or fundamental to a rights-based democracy than accountable journalism.

And a functioning political system–

I mean, if you want to get technical about it, sure. But it’s like that old saying: ‘who will watch the watchmen?’ And my job is just to let everyone know: the New York Times will.

And you’ll be watching them.

And I’ll be watching them. And we’ll all be talking about it, forever. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to write.

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