Oliver Bateman Does the Work
Oliver Bateman Does the Work
The Work of Journalism

The Work of Journalism

A vintage conversation with Russ Smith
Russ Smith way back in 2000

In this great conversation from 20201, I’m joined by veteran publisher Russ Smith (founder of the Baltimore City Paper, Washington City Paper, New York Press, and Splice Today) to talk about his life in the industry, the work of starting a weekly paper, and why advice from older people is usually worthless.2

In the interest of keeping this Substack in operation past 2024, I’m going to start pushing much harder to secure paid subscriptions. I want this to be a near-daily publication, a publication that ceaselessly explores “the work” in its myriad forms. Click that little heart, leave a sweet comment, and then sign up below to support this work.

Suggested reading

Russ' columns at Splice Today

Russ on CSPAN two decades ago

The work of Russ' sons Nicky and Booker 

Oliver's work for Russ 

Articles by Crispin Sartwell and JR Powell3, both mentioned in the interview

An article by Trump biographer Michael Wolff about Russ, "The Uninvited

Oliver's interview with Ben Katchor, who got his big break producing a weekly comic strip for Russ

Matt Zoller Seitz eulogizes the NY Press 

If you’re one of the many subscribers with access to these posts, I’m urging you to click the heart, leave a comment, restack the article, or otherwise engage in some fashion. I hate making so gauche a request — I’ve always been a “take it or leave it” sort of person who has asked for nothing — but we are now late in the evening of my dis-CONTENT, and only extremely uncouth marketing methods (i.e., outright pleas for assistance) can ensure the perpetuation of this work. Thanks for everything you do!



Which might as well be 1920, given how time passes nowadays.


This interview occasioned a wonderful comment at the time: “Wow only one comment on this great interview with a journalism/publishing legend and like 2000 comments on the interview below it with some pretentious millennial poet [that person was Logo Daedalus, and yes, said conversation really sucked/blew]. Shaking my damn head over here. Please don't let the patron interactions determine future guests, more interviewees like this please!”


Powell has a new story about a fat, lazy Movie Bob-esque podcaster that’s worth reading: “Danny harumphed. “Well, I DON’T even know what’s playing. Or if there’s anything I’d like to see.”

Several minutes later, Danny was seated at the very nexus of the multiplex’s 3D, HDR “sensorium,” an extra-large Splash between his thighs—the latest reminder that the cupholders could not accommodate the beverage cups sold at the theater had momentarily upset him, but this irritation was quickly assuaged by the dimming of the lights ahead of the coming attractions—and a tub of jalapeno cheese-infused hot dog bites clutched between his sweat-moistened hands, a ticket for The iPhone Movie in the pocket of his discolored mesh basketball shorts, a feeling of intense expectation rising in his breast as the white text-on-green background of the first preview flashed on the giant screen. Then, darkness.

“THIS SUMMER TIME HAS A NEW NAME” the screen promised in big block letters. Ninety seconds later, it told Danny and the rest of the awestruck moviegoers in attendance: “STONE GUNSMITH is... TIME MAN... vs.... THE DINOSAURS.”

The theater was bathed in blue light emanating from the dozens of smartphones, the rest of those in the auditorium, like Danny, trying with all their might to fire off a take commensurate with the gravity of the situation despite their all being thoroughly mind-blown by what they’d just witnessed. Danny’s thin lips curled upwards at the corners, forming upon his pale face a completely satisfied smile. To his nearly 10k followers on Z (formerly Chirp), he spake thusly: “Time Man vs. The Dinosaur [sic] lets goooooooooooo!”

And all was right with the world.”

Oliver Bateman Does the Work
Oliver Bateman Does the Work
The continuation (from "What's Left?") of Oliver's interviews with people about the interesting work they do + solo episodes covering assorted academic topics.