It’s hard to believe that, more than 10 years after the advent of blogging, mainstream news outlets still crank out so many cringe-inducing articles on “those crazy bloggers and their narcissistic ways.”
The most recent offender was The New York Times, which belittled tens of thousands of online moms Friday with its piece, “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand.”
Most of the article (about a recent conference for mom bloggers) is pretty vanilla fare, but the overall presentation was insulting not only to mom bloggers but also to almost any working mom.
• It’s in the Fashion and Style section. Not Business. Not Technology. Fashion and Style.
• The headline, which essentially tells you, “This is a story about women neglecting their children.”
• The accompanying graphic, shown at right, which elaborates on the idea that, “This is a story about women neglecting their children.”
Now let me say, I have no problem with a news outlet that examines how mom bloggers do or don’t balance their online lives with their parenting responsibilities. But that’s not what this story is about. In fact, it never even comes up, except in passing.
Heck, I would argue that this is actually a pretty good story that delves into lots of the complicated issues facing bloggers. What it’s doing in that section, with that headline and that graphic, I have no idea.
It’s like finding an earnest story on feminism in the 1950s, under the headline, “Sorry, Billy, you’ll have to steal lunch from a railyard hobo, because mommy’s getting a ‘job’!”
There’s obviously been a lot of debate among mom bloggers already, and I think they’re more than justified to be incensed.
Here’s an excerpt from the stellar rebuttal on Mom-101.com:
“I guess it could also have been titled Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy but that doesn't seem as enticingly condescending. Also, then it would have to go in the business section and not fashion + style and that would just mess up everything!"
(You should definitely read the whole thing. It covers a lot more ground than I can even attempt.)
So what should the media know about mom bloggers? I feel like I have enough professional and personal experience working with many of these women to share at least a few ideas:
1. They are individuals with completely different motivations and goals. They’re not part of some Park Slope hivethink, and they don’t all aspire to become Dooce.
2. The best of them work harder than almost anyone I know. You don’t run a site like DealSeekingMom.com, TypeAMom.net or BargainBriana.com without busting your hump. For women like them, it is a job, one that requires a rare and intense degree of writing ability, organization and initiative.
3. Should some mom bloggers pay more attention to their kids? Maybe, but whose place is it to say? What’s the right thing to do? Dote on your kids every second instead of working or maintaining any connection to the outside world? If that’s good parenting, then my daughter is in for a rough road.
4. The reason mom bloggers always seem to “clump together,” whether it’s at conferences or in digital communities, is because they support each other. They respect how difficult it is to be yourself, be a great writer, be a great mother and scratch out a living in a crowded field, all at the same time. Also, it’s easy for them to get the feeling that they’re chronically misunderstood.
Wonder where they get that idea?
UPDATE: The author of the piece has written her own blog post in response. It's worth a read and has sparked quite a bit more discussion in her comments section.