What would you say if I told you the newsroom of the Washington Post was crawling with vermin?
No, no, I’m not talking about the fine men and women standing on the front lines in the war for the truth. I’m not talking about the keepers of the torch of democracy, which, as you may know, dies in darkness. No, I mean the literal vermin that has infested WaPo’s newsroom because those slobs won’t clean up after themselves.
“We have a growing pest problem,” Post director of newsroom operations Jillian S. Jarrett wrote in memo to newsroom employees August 14. “We’ve gotten several reports of cockroaches in the newsroom.” Lest you think this is a building-wide issue, Jarrett writes, “Facilities says that this is a newsroom problem and not happening on other floors.”
The Post‘s building sprays the premises regularly, the memo reads, “but we have to do more to keep the bugs at bay.” Among the anti-pest measures Jarrett recommends newsroom employees take: Make sure all food and dirty dishes are put away—and leave nothing “on or inside your desk,” Jarrett writes. Clean up after “cakings”—the Post term for someone’s leaving party—which means disposing of crumbs and leftovers properly, as well as cleaning up utensils.
Speaking as someone who lived in a fraternity house and then later worked in a newsroom, the frat house was cleaner. And rightly so. This is journalism we’re talking about here. Do you think Woodward and Bernstein wasted a lot of valuable time on household chores?
This reminds me of that photo of Mike Allen’s office at Time magazine, which was so filled with trash that you could barely see out the window. Who has time to clean up the trash when there are truths to be told?