In 2014, Kentucky coal-miners found themselves unemployed after Michael Bloomberg funneled tens of millions into an anti-coal campaign. Journalists were there to help. Article after article started appearing in publications from ABC to NPR and everything in between offering unsolicited advice to these blue-collar workers: learn to code. Now, when faced with their own economic uncertainty after massive job cuts to their own industry, fired journalists are not happy to be offered the same unsolicited advice.
In these journalists' minds, coal was an industry of the past, and computer programming offered a way back into the middle class for the jobless coal-miners. They repeated this in response to other job-loss crises in manufacturing and other industries: the cure for their troubles was to develop a new and politically acceptable skill.
Now the tables have turned in what can only be described as cosmic justice, and journalists from platforms like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed are finding themselves begging on Twitter for jobs. Commenters weren't forgetting their advice from years ago and began suggesting that they follow it by educating themselves.
The hashtag #learntocode was even trending on Twitter on Friday when the news of the 1,000 job cuts was announced but quickly hidden.
Twitter handle @bypatrickgeorge, a journalist for Gizmodo, offered this:
I believe there is a special, dedicated section of Hell just for people with anime twitter avatars who tell laid-off journalists to "learn to code".
Is that so? Is this dedicated section of Hell close to the one reserved for journalists who offered the same advice to American workers when they found themselves out of work?
Probably not in Mr. George's fantasies of Hell, since these journalists see themselves as a protected class of intellectual elites. So regurgitating their opinions on hard-hitting issues like "Holiday Conundrums: What Does A Feminist Gift Look Like" and "Why You Should Let Maggots Feast On Your Leftover Food" somehow makes them more indispensable than American workers in general.
Here's some news for them: their sensationalized and often meritless overpaid writing is no longer needed in a world where fake news is being questioned by even their most dedicated readers. Political activism dressed up and called "journalism" isn't profitable, and companies like BuzzFeed and HuffPo can't afford the cost of ostracizing most of their readership any longer.
The laid off "knowledge workers" aren't responding to their own advice with the grace and tact they expected from the coal-miners.
Talia Lavin has even gone so far as to call the internet comments advising her to learn to code "coordinated harassment" and has the audacity to place herself as a victim being targeted. This is the same woman who worked as a fact-checker for The New Yorker and was forced to resign after her false claim that an ICE worker had a Nazi tattoo went viral. The fact that she even continued a career in media after such a mistake proved that current journalism isn't about accuracy or truth; it is entirely about pitching personal politics.
In light of their negative response, it's only a matter of time before "learn to code" is added to a list of "Alt-Right" euphemisms. The soulless writers still left in the dying left-wing media will seek to reframe their own once misguided advice as a racist, homophobic, or bigoted slur, further propagating the idea that they're being attacked instead of being called what they are: useless.