Today is my last day at Slate. I’m excited about the next step in my career but also sad to leave a great team and a great magazine behind.
Most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had here. I’m enormously indebted to the editors who gave me a shot here; to the copy editors I’ve tortured with typos; to David Weigel; to Jessica Winter, who edits Moneybox and leads business and technology coverage; and to Emma Roller, who’s off to an exciting new job of her own. And of course I’m indebted to Slate’s readers—an amazing and growing community whom it’s been a pleasure to hear from on a regular basis.
Moneybox is a great legacy. When I started here I was really honored to step into shoes formerly occupied by Dan Gross and Bethany McLean and my good friend Annie Lowrey, and I know that Jordan Weissmann is going to do a great job with it when he takes over on Monday.*
When Gross stepped down, for his final column he promised that he wouldn’t “bore you with a list of greatest hits.” My last column is about why burritos matter, so for a valedictory blog post I in fact will bore you with a list of greatest hits. Not just because I’m an attention-starved egomaniac, but because I think Omniture’s accounting of my most popular columns is an interesting illustration of the wide diversity of content that does well on the modern Web:
- What Does the Fiscal Cliff Mean for You? Unless you’re retired and poor, something bad.
- An Ikea Television? Why Not? Ikea’s clever plan to sell you a piece of furniture with a TV attached to it, and how it might upend the TV manufacturing industry.
- Why Should We Stop Online Piracy? A little copyright infringement is good for the economy and society.
- Chipotle is Apple. The burrito chain is revolutionizing food: Why doesn’t it get more respect?
- A Truly Depressing Visit to J.C. Penney: Penney CEO—and former Apple retail czar—Ron Johnson thought he could reinvent the department store. Instead he’s destroying it.
- There Will Be No Bacon Shortage: How a British trade association press release sent the Internet into a senseless panic.
- Against Food Drives: Charities need your money not your random old food.
- I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before: Now I can tell you exactly why this franchise is great.
- Taco Bell’s Sophisticated Side: The new Cantina Bell menu shows the influence of Chipotle on the industry and the real future of American food.
- Why Are Teen Moms Poor? Surprising new research shows it’s not because they have babies. They have babies because they’re poor.
I think you clearly see Annalee Newitz’s “Valley of Ambiguity” at work here but beyond that, it’s heartening to know that there isn’t some one subject that people will read about. An NBER working paper about the geography-specific statistical correlates of teen motherhood is not obvious clickbait. But it’s important research on an important question and it’s important for journalists to figure out how to make that stuff compelling to people. I’m sorry to say that I never managed to make the Federal Reserve a hit subject, but it’s interesting to see that smuggling a little monetary economics through the back door as a post about Game of Thrones worked pretty well and did much better than the average blog post.
*Correction, Feb. 28, 2014: In true Yglesian fashion, this post originally misspelled the last name of future Slate columnist Jordan Weissmann and the name of the restaurant Chipotle.