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An Open Letter to Adam Rogers

Posted by Lauren Rugani on November 29, 2010

Dear Mr. Rogers,

Your decision today to tweet excerpts from applications for editorial internships at WIRED magazine does not sit well with me. At best, this was unprofessional and immature. It was an unapologetic display of arrogance, and perhaps humiliating for those who might have recognized one of the tweeted phrases as their own.

As a senior editor, your relationship with interns — current or potential — should be one of tough love, constructive criticism and patient guidance. It should not include publicly mocking their mistakes so that you and your cronies can have a good giggle. I understand that you don’t have the time, nor is it your job, to address each applicant and explain why they are utter failures how they might have missed the mark. But your remarks should be kept, at the very least, between you and your hiring team. If the task of screening applications is too frustrating for you, perhaps you should pass the responsibility to someone else.

An editorial position at WIRED is one of the most coveted among young and aspiring science writers. This undoubtedly means you get inundated with applications for every opening. Some will be above the bar, and many will be below. But every single one of those people would do almost anything to be able to type those five impossibly cool letters at the top of the “Experience” section on their résumé, and you should be humbled.

Your actions today certainly revealed bad judgment on your part, but also reflected poorly on the organization that you represent. I respect many WIRED staff members for their authoritative, thorough and well-written pieces. I even call some of them friends. I hope that your behavior isn’t representative of how WIRED editors treat their staff and freelancers. It would be a shame for this incident to tarnish the integrity of a publication I have come to know and love.

I want to believe know you intended to be humorous, not cruel, and the overall conversation surrounding your tweets could be summarized into a lesson on how not to write a cover letter. But you weren’t always a senior editor. You had to start somewhere, too. And there was probably a time when you wrote a bunch of crap and someone laughed at it you made a few mistakes. So, going forward, please try to maintain some level of sensitivity and professionalism. If something is so awful that it would be detrimental to the human race not to share it, please at least do so in a thoughtful, teachable manner.




(For other readers, I’ve included the relevant twitter conversation below, in chronological order. Fair warning: it’s long.)

jetjocko Adam Rogers

This is the part of the year where I resist quoting from terrible, hilarious intern applications. No, seriously. I resist. I do.


sshivell Stanley Shivell

@jetjocko You do realize that you cannot tease your followers like that, right? Come on! Share just one!


jetjocko Adam Rogers

No, no, no. I’m still going to resist posting from the unintentionally funny intern apps. Well, OK. Maybe just one. Stand by.


MyStudioVideos MyStudioVideos

@jetjocko Can. Not. Wait. Love, an intern.


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko Just give in now.


USelaine Elaine, of the U.S.

@jetjocko We can hear your suppressed guffaws over the cubicle walls. Give it up.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

“[I] honed not only my love for the written word, but my love for writing itself—I can honestly and unequivocally call it my joie de vivre.”


jetjocko Adam Rogers

Lots of adverbs + misused French ≠ what you meant to say.


OKnox Olivier Knox

@jetjocko uh-oh. What are you doing to my first language?


Lizstins Liz Stinson

@jetjocko The current intern in me says, “Don’t do it!” But the bitter, almost-done intern in me says, “Share away!” I’d trust the latter.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@Lizstins It’s a terrible, unprofessional thing that I’m probably going to do anyway.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@OKnox It wasn’t me. It was an intern app. Pretty sure he meant “raison d’etre” and not “joie de vivre.” But non parlez pas, so….


OKnox Olivier Knox

@jetjocko Oof. Sub-optimal in an app for anything.


shandy_d Shannon Driscoll

@jetjocko MORE MORE MORE!! #emphatic


jetjocko Adam Rogers

“My intentions are hopeful of securing the select editorial internships for a solid foundation in my journalism career.”


katiejmbaker Katie Baker

@jetjocko sounds like a Nigerian spammer wrote that one


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@katiejmbaker I would *totally* hire a former Nigerian spammer.


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko Dude. Uncool. That was from MY application.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@mat That’s what I love about your intentions, Mat: So hopeful.


lizzieohreally Lizzie O’Leary

@jetjocko so mean!


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@lizzieohreally It’s terrible of me. I should stop. It’s not right.


dannydoom Danny Dumas

@jetjocko For every 10 horrid intern apps, there’s gotta be at least one that’s awesome. I demand a pull quote from one of those!


erikastalder erika stalder

I so want more!RT @jetjocko: “[I] honed not only my love for….


Sciencewriter Sciencewriter

Wow: “@jetjocko: “My intentions are hopeful of securing the select editorial internships for a solid foundation in my journalism career.””


jetjocko Adam Rogers

Excellent point. You got it. Stand by. MT @dannydoom: There’s gotta be at least one that’s awesome. I demand a pull quote from one of those!


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko Hate to tell you, but @dannydoom is just enabling you–encouraging you to post the good because he knows it will lead to more bad


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko PS: please post more bad


jopearl Joanna Pearlstein

@mat While @jetjocko demurs, I’ll offer this sentence: “Being excellent at multitasking and coordinating several projects simultaneously.”


jetjocko Adam Rogers

1/2 A key to journalism is combining chutzpah with neurosis. To wit:


jetjocko Adam Rogers

2/2 “I know I’m good at what I do, but I also know I have lots to learn and there are people in this office with vast amounts of authority.”


jaketapper Jake Tapper

@jetjocko does chutzpah + neuroses = Charoses? Yum!!!


jaketapper Jake Tapper

@jetjocko please don’t passover my tweet


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@jaketapper I won’t. Just seder magic word.


alexismadrigal alexismadrigal

@jetjocko Wait. Isn’t that confidence plus ass kissing? #alsoawinningcombo


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@alexismadrigal I knew that, but that is such a perceptive bit of analysis (as I’ve come to expect of you).


mediagadfly Kit

This exchange ftw RT @jetjocko @jaketapper I won’t. Just seder magic word.


AllisonPDavis Allison P Davis

@jopearl @jetjocko careful what you post, current interns are starting to feel smug. until you tweet all the errors from our apps that is.


dannydoom Danny Dumas

@jetjocko @alexismadrigal Well I’m in favor of that candidate. What’s his name? A. Madrigal you say? Wait a minute…


jetjocko Adam Rogers

Credit “chutzpah + neurosis = journalism” to @ugahealthjourn. She taught me that equation.


timleong tim leong

I wonder what Wired editors did for fun before Twitter.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@timleong Halo


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@jonsnyder @dannydoom @alexismadrigal @timleong (Much better at that than Halo.)


noahWG Noah Gray



jetjocko Adam Rogers

@noahWG You’re hired.


Eaterofsun Oliver Morton

@jetjocko @noahWG rilly?


noahWG Noah Gray

@jetjocko Oh my! Well! I wasn’t expecting that! (which way to the podium?)


jetjocko Adam Rogers

First time in seven years of reviewing editorial intern apps I’ve seen people touting SEO skills.


morepete Pete Mortensen

@jetjocko goodintern greatreporting fetchescoffee gaganude bieberfever techvisionary


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko Just wait. Next year they’ll include their Klout scores, if they aren’t already.


michellelegro Michelle Legro

@jetjocko Look for their first post: “The Top Five Reasons SEO skills are the Justin Bieber of making the Internet Work for You.”


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@mat relatedly this is the first time I’m having to Google what the hell these people are mentioning to show how hip they are.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@michellelegro Brilliant! Is one of the reasons a video of a kitten?


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@morepete I think I actually got that cover letter already.


morepete Pete Mortensen

@jetjocko Yeah, but @cshirky‘s probably ineligible from working for you.


StevenLeckart steven leckart

Has anyone applying for a job/internship ever seeded the pool w/HORRIBLE faux resumes/letters just to stand out? cc: @jetjocko @jopearl

jetjocko Adam Rogers

Also seeing intern apps from people trying to switch from marketing or PR to journalism. Coming in through the out door?


JenLucPiquant Jennifer Ouellette

“Dear @jetjocko, I would like to be a Wired intern b/c I crave my father’s approval and will never get it.” #kickmesomemore


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@JenLucPiquant lots better careers to either endear or alienate a father than this one….


editorialiste Andrew Nusca

@jetjocko you could always shock them by asking them to explain those SEO skills. without the use of voodoo dolls.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@editorialiste Hah! Obviously they’re not *that* good or they wouldn’t have to apply. I would have just found them on Google, right?


editorialiste Andrew Nusca

@jetjocko oh man, if there was ever a reason to send a “reply all” e-mail, it’s that one


edyong209 Ed Yong

@jetjocko One can only hope that those people understand that they’re making a career *shift* 😉


USelaine Elaine, of the U.S.

@jetjocko If you ever need an aging, unemployed curator, give me a toot.


jetjocko Adam Rogers

@edyong209 They all *say* they do….


edyong209 Ed Yong

@jetjocko Ask them for an outside opinion 😉


mat apocryphal mat honan

@jetjocko Right out of college, I worked in PR. Didn’t suit me. A year later I was interning @motherjones. It happens.


One Response to “An Open Letter to Adam Rogers”

  1. Adam Rogers said

    Hi, Lauren. You make some interesting points here; glad I saw this. I’m not sure how to address the judgment part–since the quotes were de-identifed I hoped that they’d exist more as teaching moments for future applicants rather than shaming of existing ones. For what it’s worth, the couple of quotes I did post–I think there were only three, in the end–weren’t from young, just-starting-out types but from folks who, judging by their resumes, really should have known better. They just didn’t proofread. The rest of my comments about the intern pool were in the aggregate, more observations about trends than criticisms. And believe it or not, I was talking to my current interns the whole time I was posting, and I’ll be asking their help with selecting their replacements (they sit about 10 feet from me).

    I’d be terrified to see my original cover letters looking for jobs a hundred years ago–I’m sure they were terrible. And I have indeed made horrible, laughable mistakes, many of them in front of (potentially) millions of readers. I used to keep a list of them posted on my wall, in fact. My hope in doing that Twitter shtick wasn’t just to be snarky–I was actually trying to convey, slyly, to future intern hopefuls that we pay very, very close attention to writing and intent. That we are not kidding around. And that writing is serious business.

    But I’m sensitive to your criticisms here, and if you’d care to talk more, I’m available.

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