Penitentiaries and correctional facilities will often have inmates pay their debt to society by working for it. Much of the unskilled labor traditionally done by chain gangs is obsolete, like railroad building. Other work has been automated, like license plate stamping. One California state facility has found modern, lucrative blue collar work for the 21st century: Tech Journalism.
It all started when Michael Arrington was locked up in the drunk tank after the Boxbnb launch party. He was found stumbling around the streets of San Francisco at 4am waiving a half eaten burrito at taxis and bicyclists yelling “Do you know who I am? I’m the CEO of Yahoo!” and then laughing maniacally. Arrington was only locked up for the night, but it gave the facility’s warden, Rudolf Hazen, an idea.
Since this is San Francisco, most of the facility’s guards have their own startups. Hazen invests in most of these businesses, but has trouble getting them coverage. Since Arrington was now under Hazen’s roof until he sobered up, he forced Arrington to teach the inmates how to write about startups. It took a drunk Arrington a few hours to teach the inmates the ins and outs of modern tech journalism:
We focused on rumors and funding announcements. These articles require the least amount of research. Since you want to get them out as fast as possible, we removed proofreading from our process. Readers will post corrections to spelling, grammar, and even content in the comments section. The inmates will respond to comments and can get defensive when readers call them out, sometimes to the point of violent verbal abuse. We thought this might give them away as criminals or at least amateurs, but nobody seems to have noticed.
Hazen wouldn’t tell us the name of the blog but he did say that it has been acquired and was part of AOL Tech.