Photo by Sierra Black
The New York Times has just managed to anger one of the most powerful sectors of the American Internet: the mom bloggers.
In an article over the weekend titled "Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand," the grey lady inferred that working online means you ignore your kids.
So working for a living, from home, equals total parental suckage? I'll have to tell my daughter as I'm cooking the food paid for with my online job.
Suffice it to say, the world of mom blogs has been quick to respond in in-depth, often insightful posts on, well, their blogs.
My former colleague Sierra Black pointed out on Child Wild this week that the story's tone that treats mommy blogging as this twee little pastime largely miss the real stories of many of us moms on the 'net.
Black has a master's degree in writing, and like me she's been a professional journalist since high school (I started in newspapers with an internship at 16, and even now am still a freelancer for the local paper). "Being able to work in the buff at 2 a.m., swear on the job and get paid to live out a childhood dream doesn’t make me unprofessional. It just makes me lucky," Black says.
Now back to the Times, where blogger and freelance writer Jennifer Mendelsohn's article makes snarky references to the 28,000 page views you can rack up with your tutu making tutorial. Excuse our eye roll here, but perhaps it isn't a mom's fault that her fluffier bits are generating good hits -- it's the culture at large that's searching for crafty tips.
Heeding the call for those pieces, understanding how to drive traffic, now that's professionalism at its very best. Why is it not respected in a home office when a mom's doing the job but appropriate for a marketing guru at a major corporation to pitch a board room full of (generally white) men an idea of how to give the public what they want to boost profits?
This story and more like it, have taken a snide tone toward the non-professional ranks of online writers. But more than 10 years in a newsroom make me wonder how the so-called professionals are any better.
Want to talk swag? How about the seat front and center at a concert venue that I've received in order to cover the event? Although I will say it never changed my mind about a performance, the fact remains that neither I nor the newspaper paid for me to be in that seat to watch the show and report on it.
Now step to a mom who accepts a stroller, takes it out and does an honest test drive on it, then writes up her true thoughts. Is she any different? Just as I needed that seat in the performing arts center in order to do my job, she needed the physical stroller to do hers.
The line of what constitutes professionalism isn't in who is getting paid, but in how we comport ourselves.
The responses in the blogosphere have been proof positive that moms blogging aren't just those swag-hungry, self-absorbed bunch that the mainstream media has lumped us into.
As a blogger and journalist both, I've most appreciated the attacks that have gone straight to the heart of the matter -- traditional media's approach to online, and the misogynistic undertone to it all. The problem isn't, as Mom-101's Liz Gumbinner points out, with Mendelsohn. Headlines are rarely written by writers; the entire tone of articles can be changed in the editing room.
I've seen it happen far too many times to my own stories, and I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It's the professionals who have had much the same response. Those who have ripped Mendelsohn to shreds are no better than the Times with its lack of understanding of the way our world works, and the apparent lack of desire to ever learn.
We are professional. We are talented. We are also doing what's right for our families. Which is the definition of a good parent.
Need a little more proof? Check out some more of those insightful responses to the Times from around the blogosphere:
- An Open Letter to the New York Times About Bloggers, Women Writers and the Universe. Pundit Mom
- Don't Bother Mommy, She's Rabid Right Now. Jessica Gottlieb
- Blogging and Motherhood -- Success Is Not Limited to One or the Other. Angela England
- Honey, Don't Bother With the NY Times. They're Too Busy Slamming Your Mommy. Mama Kat