Local journalism doesn’t have to be Onion-esque

Once upon a time long ago, Matt Smith wrote for me when we both were at SF Weekly. He’s always been good, but I think the passage of time and changes in how journalism is delivered have made him a near-perfect local writer for our times. Matt’s a columnist for the print Weekly and a blogger and occasional full-length feature writer betweentimes; this mixing of daily and weekly and multi-weekly deadlines and newspaper and magazine sensibilities seems a fine match for this phase of the digital age. But it’s not just that Matt can write across platforms; he can think across platforms to create the right piece at the right length with the right tone for the right publication at the right time. This piece, on H1-B visas in the Bay Area, bears the one true hallmark of the Matt Smith approach: a nuanced  take that you truly did not see coming and that, depending on who you are, could be so absolutely outraging as to set you muttering for days, maybe weeks. Here’s an outtake:

Bay Area CEOs say imported experts are key to Silicon Valley success. In the program, foreign workers are employed by the sponsoring company for up to six years. During that time, the H1-B holders may start the long process of applying for permanent-resident green cards.

Critics say the program is a mild form of indentured servitude. They insist that what employers really seek are compliant workers who won’t complain about unfair treatment for fear of being deported.

The fact is both groups are right: The H1-B program depresses wages for certain U.S. workers. It’s rife with fraud and abuse. H1-B workers are vulnerable to discrimination, isolation, and exploitation. But the program is a necessary evil because skilled and enterprising new immigrants are exactly what the Bay Area economy needs.

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3 Comments

Filed under media, The Onion

3 responses to “Local journalism doesn’t have to be Onion-esque

  1. John, Looks like it is time for that raise you have been promising Matt–if not he should get one!!!!! Strokes are great, but money pays the bills.

  2. johnmecklin

    Mark: Matt certainly deserves large and regular raises, because he regularly produces outstanding journalism. Alas, I was last his editor in 2005 and have no control over his current paycheck.

    • Mark Drake

      Ceeky comment about the raise. Maybe his current boss will read your blogm. Matt worked for me years ago in my bicycle shop. I knew then he was was talented and headed to the stars.

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