I was reading this interesting commentary on the bizarre meltdown of The New Republic, when something struck me. Megan McArdle is talking here about how hard it can be to manage journalists:
Both journalists and non-journalists usually fail to understand just how weirdly different media companies are from other sorts of firms, which means they don't understand that experience with one side gives you virtually zero insight into how the other kind works. . .
. . .Prominent among the unique challenges of the media manager: the frequent tension between the actions that build your reputation and audience, and those that monetize it; the difficulty of getting creative types to produce great stuff on demand; the astonishing amount of autonomy that journalists need, because it's impossible to write hard guidelines, and too expensive to supervise long hours of reporting and typing; the fact that great writers are frequently terrible managers and editors, which screws up the normal management pyramid; the simultaneous need for speed and accuracy; the fact that media employment selects for a cluster of personality traits that resists closer management;. . .
All you have to do is substitute "scientist" or "researcher" for every mention of "journalist" or "writer" in there. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?