Why booze and cigarettes are essential for good journalism.

Media criticism.
Jan. 2 2008 6:37 PM

The Whiskey Rebellion

In praise of booze in the newsroom.

(Continued from Page 1)

In issuing his dictum, Philipps surely inspired Post staffers to tote firewater to work that last day. I keep a bottle at my office for the same reason—not to drink but to symbolically cast off the petty rules and restrictions that I imagine thwart me from doing my job. If my job is to kick authority in the shins, how can I resist doing the same to the powers that cut me a paycheck twice a month?

Wise editors know when and how to encourage newsroom insubordination, as opposed to squelching it, because they appreciate Bob Woodward's aphorism, "All good work is done in defiance of management." By giving the newsroom the opportunity to stand up to him, the wise editor instructs his reporters in the advanced techniques of standing up to CEOs and politicians. The wise editor understands that quality journalism requires a bad attitude, foul words, a brawl, and sometimes a drink afterward.

So if any Cincinnati Post staffers were pointlessly slapped on the wrists for imbibing on their paper's last day, the next round's on me.

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To the HR police: It's an unopened bottle of Chivas Regal. Come and get me! Or confiscate it via e-mail: slate.pressbox@gmail.com. Top of the world! (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.