Joyless Comic Strip's NYT Parody Falls Flat

Sarah Lacy

There seems to be a wide and growing divide between people who appreciate healthy portions of meaty journalism and those who prefer a media diet of bite-sized snark snacks full of empty calories. In this context, “old media” outlets like the New York Times can never win, no matter what they do. Even the NYT's remarkably well-reported Sunday story about how Apple avoids paying taxes has become the subject of misdirected ridicule from the new-media-nerd set.

A comic called The Joy of Tech has been around for years. Since it's not even remotely funny, my guess is that it has succeeded to the degree that it has only because it's a comic that's focused on technology and, well, we need one of those. I would further assume that since there's a vast audience of people who don't seem to care if the tech journalists covering their business are any good, there is also a vast audience of people who don't care if a comic is funny. (I realize that humor is subjective, but I don't think it could be argued that The Joy of Tech is in any way edgy or brave, or that it goes very deep. Lots of people find Andy Borowitz funny, too, but like The Joy of Tech, he serves up milquetoast disguised as biting satire.)

The writer of The Joy of Tech identifies himself as “Snaggy.” His name is Bruce Evans, and he also runs a site called Geek Culture. The artist (or, clip-art placer) calls herself Nitrozac. Her name is Liza Schmalcel.

This week, The Joy of Tech characterized the NYT's recent investigations of Apple as having been written only because Apple was the subject. “Snaggy” told media blogger Jim Romenesko that it's an example of the NYT “jumping on bandwagons” to “pump stories.” In the strip, a reporter pitches his editor on a story about “evil corporations” who practice “widespread worker abuse, bullying of governments, and environmental pollution,” along with avoiding taxes. The editor finds this “boring” until the reporter says the story is about Apple, at which point the editor yells “Stop the presses!”

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