Response From New York Times Editor

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OK, one more post on the NYT piece, and I move on. Promise.

I didn’t realize when I wrote mine I was way behind the 8-ball and piling on, as I don’t blog-hop or tweet much from conferences, and am at SXSW IA.

And I don’t normally post angry. Except when I do. Upon further reflection, I question the Times ‘ judgement in headline and graphic choice at least as much as the writer’s.

So I sent an email directly to the editor of the Style section, Stuart Emmrich. I’ll spare you the gories of yet another Lindsay rant, since you’ve read one long snarky one by me this week.

Basically, I hit the same points as my post yesterday, with the addition of an analogy: if a guy went to a Star Trek convention with pocket protectors and broken glasses on, then wrote an article mocking those 40-year old virgin nerd losers, It would still feel like an abuse of gaining access and confidence.

But I would think it was funny.

It’s never a laugh when you’re the clown getting dunked.

The author clearly disclosed her status as on assignment, so my feelings on the “one of us” behavior reported by attendees could be just that: my feelings. It’s not my style, but I see where it’s a hard line to walk.

Mr. Emmrich was kind enough to take the time to read and reply, which I share here with his permission.

Dear Ms. Maines:

You and I obviously read two different stories. I would separate the piece from the headline — not written by the author and perhaps ill-judged — and give the piece a fairer and more dispassionate read. Sincerely, Stuart Emmrich

Hmmm. Ill judged- I concur.

Fairer and more dispassionate: I tried. I still don’t get it.

But, he has a point. We did read two different pieces. My reply to that:

Thank you for your reply. I’m sure we did. Since, as a white male executive, sexist throwback jargon may not trip your alarm bells the way it would someone in my shoes, who struggles against the devaluing jargon of “mommy blogger” quite frequently.

Again, thank you for your time. Possibly I’m not objective, but maintain this could have told a stronger story. Snark is easier.

And the author of the piece, Jennifer Mendelsohn, wrote a rebuttal on her blog responding to the backlash in the blog community.

If THAT were what had run in the Times, we would not be having this conversation. Jennifer professes a love and respect for blogs and bloggers that doesn’t come through from the tone of the Times piece. But I give her major props for getting in and engaging in the conversation.

I see the difficulty of her position in writing this piece. I really do. To maintain credibility as a journalist while covering a tribe you’re a card carrying member of is no easy task. What I wish could have happened was to come in closer to get the shot, instead of going long lens.

Something like:

“We’re all at the bus stop every morning, breath fogging the air, talking about Lost. I’m spacing out, thinking about a blog post I’m working on. One mom mentions seeing a Lost spoiler on Twitter- “Oh, you’re on Twitter too?” I say, and she says, “Yeah, growing traffic for my blog.”

Ahhh. Traffic. She speaks my language. We’re the dual life moms- we have an everyday life where you see us in the carpool line- and our online presence where we post what we wrote in our head while IN the carpool line.

And, though invisible to much of mainstream media, advertisers and corporate America sure take notice…(followed by her statistics, etc.-leading into conference coverage.

Etc., etc., you get it. Maybe Monday morning quarterbacking, I know. But Features are written in the first person voice quite frequently. It could have worked.

I see the desire for distance out of wanting to maintain the appearance of professional objectivity. I just don’t think the editorial choice served the piece well.

And, I brush my hands, pull up my big girl pants, and go back to editing my book proposal that I promised will be in my agent’s hands in two days.

I guess that’s all we can do- keep doing what we’re doing, running that race that is balancing the choices of where our time and attention go. And know that those we engage with in our online life are worth far more to each other then an outside lens can capture.

That will be more than enough.

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Comments (6)

  1. Boston Mamas Wednesday - 17 / 03 / 2010 Reply
    I wish I were surprised by this response, though at least there was a response I suppose. One thing I have found in my dealings with MSM and idiocy is that they never seem to have the balls to actually make an apology -- whether they are doing something blatantly wrong (as was my experience with our major city newspaper) or whether it's simply a matter of personal semantics, empathy, and communication. Because the simple phrase, "I hear your frustration and I'm sorry that this is causing distress" could go a long way in smoothing things over. .-= Boston Mamas´s last blog ..Aquarium To Go =-.
    • rockrollmama Friday - 19 / 03 / 2010 Reply
      TOTALLY true that. There are so many studies that show how many medical malpractice cases could be avoided were the words "I'm sorry" uttered when an error is made. But a guess the paper of record doesn't like to admit their record was kinda biased and snarked out. Oh, well. Auds and I had a lovely talk about your awesomeness today- did your ears light up about 4 pm? We puffy heart you with the fierceness of ten lions.
  2. Mama Pea Friday - 19 / 03 / 2010 Reply
    I think the difficult part of the NYT story isn't just the judgment passed on Mommy bloggers in general but, as you said the fact that "the clown was dunking herself" and expecting all the other clowns to be okay with that? I think as Mommy bloggers, many times the judgment we pass on ourselves is even more harsh than the judgment that others pass on us. While we "write in our head in the carpool line" we feel guilty about it, rather than being absolutely present in the moment. While we type during those few moments we have to ourselves, we feel guilty about it, rather than theorize with our husbands about what the hell is going on on LOST. And when we take the time to actually sit down and read an entire NYT article about Mommy bloggers written by a Mommy blogger, we kind of expect it to be free from that guilt for just a moment. Yes, Jennifer should have given us all a break in her story, but even more so, it only hurts because we are already judging ourselves for those same reasons...and we need to give ourselves a break first.
    • rockrollmama Friday - 19 / 03 / 2010 Reply
      I love that observation. I think you've nailed where the sting comes from- we all try so hard (at least, all the moms who blog that I've met) to not be that person who puts anything before her family. But it's always a tug of war for attention- just as any activity is. Thank you for stopping by.
  3. Lynn from Friday - 19 / 03 / 2010 Reply
    Lindsay, Between this post and your last, you've written one of the best analyses I've read of the NYT piece. Did you know that the NYT updated their code of ethics for freelancing journalists right after this appeared? And bravo on the book. Rock on...
  4. Andi Tuesday - 30 / 03 / 2010 Reply
    Great recap. After the initial article and reading some of the blog posts I didn't read any follow-up. I went to the original SITScation in Vegas, I have been to many other conferences, a lot of them women/mommyblogger centric [that's why we always run into each other :-) ], and thought her observations were off and that she was trying to be provocative. I just hate that traditional media feeds on the sensational aspects of these stories rather than the truth. LOVED the email to the editor - fantastic! .-= Andi´s last blog ..March Five =-.

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