Times are tough at the Times, just as they are at all outlets of traditional media, and I say that without the typical blogger-glee. All members of this blog draw their paychecks from the Old School, and speaking for myself at least, I want to continue to do so. I love working at a magazine, love the project, love the length of the articles, the capacity to provide context, the rigor of having standards, and hell, I like that we can pay writers, albeit not enough. If everything gets time-warped onto the intertubes, the phrase that instantly springs to my mind is irreparable disaster, with a healthy dose of searing trauma thrown in.
That said, why does it seem that the institutional posture of the Times with regard to blogs is one of passive-aggressive superiority? For a paper that gives the sense of disliking and disdaining blogs, it certainly does have a lot of them. Would it have something to do with how bad its blogs suck? (Why in the world does the Times need a blog called “Complaint Box?” Who dreamed that shit up? Was it someone who wanted the paper to go out of business?)
Oh, wait a minute, did I have point? Yes. I wanted to discuss this article from the Times’s “Consumed” section in the magazine, which appeared under the headline “Monetizing Motherhood.”
For those of you brave enough to read it, you’ll notice that the article, in fact, has nothing to do with motherhood and its intersection with money. It starts with a very small premise: “blogs written by moms—or, as these bloggers frequently put it, ‘mommies,'” were concerned about new FTC rules regulating financial disclosures on a website. Here’s how it is now supposed to work: if a site is taking money from Big Company A, and simultaneously running a favorable review of Big Company A’s Widget X, blogger J must inform reader Q know that money has changed hands. This seems a good idea.
The problem is that many mommy blogs review mommy- and baby-related products, accept money from said companies, and don’t always reveal this, largely, I imagine, because they actually like the products they’re reviewing (I guess). Fine. This actually strikes me as news, printed in a news publication.
But does anyone see a connection to motherhood and money here? I don’t. I see a connection to mothers and money–but motherhood? Do the women who are actually making money off their blogs represent motherhood, or do they just represent, well, mothers making money off their websites?
Here’s how the article describes the bloggers:
Instead of greeting the F.T.C. announcement as good news for the public, many bloggers saw it as an intrusion into the affairs of the citizen media. It was widely reported that bloggers — regular folk expressing their honest opinions! — could face huge fines (“up to $11,000 per post,” Mashable.com asserted) for inadequate disclosure. Some were offended, even outraged, not least because they felt the guidelines picked on grass-roots new media unfairly. Many seemed to fear “a witch hunt against bloggers,” as Lisa Stone, co-founder and C.E.O. of BlogHer, puts it.
Do we detect a wee bit of sarcasm there, blurring the links of black ink at the old gray lady? I do.