Nitwit assistants

Let's say:
You're a writer, and you're represented by a small established agency.
The agency's lone assistant (in his late 20s) is posting on a personal page not using his own real name, but does reference the agency’s name.
Some of the assistant’s postings could be taken as bespeaking a macho, not terribly enlightened attitude to women: links to "adult" sites, etc.
The personal page comes up pretty easily in a search engine – under the agency’s name. I doubt anybody else in the agency knows this is the case. The assistant may not even know it.
A lot of people in publishing are women. Will the assistant's lack of discretion hurt the agency, or its clients, or him?

No one in the industry spends much time reading myspace pages by assistants.
He'll get the message soon enough, but no one is going to think less of you for his idiocy.


Anonymous said...

If in fact this assitant is "bespeaking" as you suggest than he's a blatant idiot and has never heard the expression don't shit where you eat.

However, I've seen enough self-righteous comments on blogs to know that Victoria's Secret Catalogue is considered offensive to some of you out there in the flyover states so this is hard to judge. If it is so awful, I think his boss will find out very soon and take care of it quickly; if it's not you'll just have to stop reading it.

McKoala said...

On a personal level, as a woman I would not exactly be charmed by this kind of attitude. If I spotted it before querying, then I would not query this agency. If I spotted it once a client and it was bad enough to make me feel uncomfortable, I would raise it with the head of the agency. This man may be indiscreet and stupid; or he may be more than that.

I may be a bit extreme in my reaction. I say all this as someone who was stalked by a former boss many years ago. It's made me very wary of any hint of inappropriacy in anyone that I have a professional relationship with.

Anonymous said...

Um... Anonymous, I don't think flyovwer states, just because they're seen as (gosh, shall I say the dirty words... Christian and white) have freakouts over Victoria's Secret catalogs. Now THAT's narrow minded.

harrietcat said...

Wow, that might be the idiot of the year (well, 2007 is still young, but...) Has this guy never heard of potential employers googling job applicants? Sure, a lot of people have embarrassing college homepages with pictures of them doing keg stands or whatever. But to be in your late 20's and create a page that makes you look like a nitwit means...you are a nitwit.

Seriously, if you MUST be a misogynist/porn fan, at least don't bring your employer's name into it. If this guy worked for me I'd be a little annoyed.

Kit Whitfield said...

Out of interest, Miss Snark, supposing you were that young man's employer, and a writer mentioned their concerns. How would you react?

Anonymous said...

I'm actually curious to know who it is...just to see for myself whether or not the page is so awful. His page is public, after all (unless marked private than it doesn't matter anyway).And the person who wrote Miss Snark certainly can remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Sooo, what agency is it? Or, how about the link to his page? Anyone?

Save others from this idiot, please.

What this says about the agency:
1. They don't google themselves. Ever.
2. They don't really know who they hired or
3. They don't require professional behavior of those who work for them.

I'm sure they get a lot of resumes of people who would love to have his job. He's too arrogant, stupid or resentful to be working there.

Kit Whitfield said...

Hang on, let's not all rush to judge the guy too harshly; we don't know all the circumstances. All we've heard is that he linked to 'adult' sites; the author doesn't quote any of his stated opinions, and 'adult' could mean anything from hardcore degradation to a Hundred Greatest Swimsuit Moments website. In which case, it's not exactly classy, but it doesn't make him a ravening beast.

If he's going to treat his private MySpace page as the page of a private citizen (which seems likely if he's recommending adult sites), then he's ill-advised to bring his professional commitments into it as well - he should keep the two separate - but I don't think there's enough evidence to assume he's a total disgrace. Let's be a bit cautious before we start calling people names and calling for their sacking on such sketchy evidence.

Craig Steffen said...

However, I've seen enough self-righteous comments on blogs to know that Victoria's Secret Catalogue is considered offensive to some of you out there in the flyover states so this is hard to judge.

One assumes, then, that you're from one of the liberal, enlightened, "sink two professional incomes into getting a 1200 square foot flat" states on the edges of the country?

Anonymous said...

Let's leave aside the issue of whether or not the website we can't see was really problematic.

And stop tossing around the regional insults.

The basic question seems to be:
How does extreme personal blogging by an employee effect people's perception of his workplace?

Mckoala sees it as a sign of a lack of professionalism.
Which seems also to be the feeling of the original poster.

Well,I'm not sure that an employer *can* require that its staff do not mention their workplace by name on a personal blog.
Or how they would enforce it.

Kit Whitfield said...

Can we lay off the inter-state insults as well? Appealing for calm here...

Kit Whitfield said...

Agree with yxlbx.

I don't know many examples, but I was under the impression that it's usual to conceal all identifying details if you're 'extreme blogging'. (Nice idea, yxlbx.) The entertaining Porn Clerk Stories (http://www.improvresourcecenter.com/mb/tpcs.html), for example, always referred to the video store as '[My Store]' and used false names or initials for everyone mentioned. This may have had something to do with the fact that when the author's employers found out about the blog, they didn't fire her.

On another occasion, a Waterstones employee blogged about his 'evil boss'. He didn't identify which branch he worked at or name names, but he did identify the chain. Amid controversy, he was fired. See link: http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/weblogs/story/0,14024,1388466,00.html

'A degree of caution saves a pack of trouble' seems to be the lesson here.

Was he unprofessional? Well, he's discomfited an agency client, which isn't good. A man has the right to have and disclose whatever sexual tastes he wishes, assuming they're legal, but hearing about the sexual tastes of a professional colleague is generally more information that we really want to hear. Saying 'I work for a small established agency, henceforth called Agency X' would have done his MySpace page little harm, and would have avoided this problem.

Enforceable? Well, if I were his boss, I might have a quiet word with him about linking the company's name with adult websites, and ask him to disguise the agency's identity. Now thatwould be an uncomfortable conversation. But I think only a very contentious person would refuse such a request.

On the other hand, I don't think it makes the agency look unprofessional, or not disastrously so. If the CEO or star agent was recommending adult sites, that would be a bigger issue, but an assistant doesn't represent the company.

Anonymous said...

Original poster here:

I don't think anybody should be fired. I don't think he's a rampaging beast. I think he's shown no judgement, zero class, and he risks making a total fool out of himself.

An example of what he does: he puts in a link, alluding to it, archly, as an aid to masturbation. The link is to a gallery of glossy, big titty/shaved pubis shots, and carries heavy advertising from AdultFriendFinder.com, "the world's largest sex/swinger classifieds". .. his membership became visible, by mistake, for a teen model (legal) soft porn site.

The issue isn't so much how X-rated his page is or is not: it's about his immaturity and lack of judgement in listing the employer's name alongside any and all of this. An adult nearly 30 years old should know better. He's not in the rock n' roll world - he's in publishing.

The judgement issues on his page haven't just been about sex sites. Somebody hoping to work in publishing once dissed a blog entry the assistant had praised, whereupon the assistant angrily informed the critic that the critic would never be successful in the publishing industry; the the agency's name was attached, via the assistant's page.

For a while after that, the page became private (maybe somebody said something, I don't know) - but then it went public again. Even when made private, though, the security on these sites is not reliable.

My hope is that he'll remove the employer's name from the page, and always keep the page private. And try to grow up. And wash his hands very very carefully before we next meet....

Kit Whitfield said...

Yikes. I can see why that would make you question his judgement - quite aside from the fact that no one wants to know about a professional acquaintance's wanking habits, the fact that he'd be that rude to a poster he didn't like suggests that he's not quite the diplomat one would hope, given his choice of career.

I guess one conclusion is that if anything ever happens to your agent (touch wood not), and he's an agent himself by then, you'll know to look elsewhere for representation!

Good luck with finding a publisher, by the way, and congratulations on having an agent :-)