Addicted to novelty since 2001

Irony in the New York Times’ Coverage of BlogHer

On Twitter, Jeremy linked to this well-written New York Times article by Kara Jesella about BlogHer. Entitled “Blogging’s Glass Ceiling” it emphasizes BlogHer’s strong community ties, appeal to marketers and and an imbalance of power and income among genders in the blogosphere:

These days, there is money to be made, fame to be earned and influence to be gained. And though women and men are creating blogs in roughly equal numbers, many women at the conference were becoming very Katie Couric about their belief that they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts at, say, Daily Kos, a political blog site. Nor, they said, were they making much money, even though corporations seem to be making money from them.

I think Ms. Jesella misses a key point in making her case. The blogosphere is still pretty geeky (arguably, 8 of the 10 most popular blogs according to Technorati focus on technology), and interest in technology has tradition skewed toward men. So, you’d expect that the most money and fame would follow that topic area. I don’t mention this to refute her thesis, merely to suggest an important cause or symptom that she ignored (or had edited out of her piece).

I did, however, want to highlight the fact that this piece appeared in the ‘Fashion & Style’ section of the New York Times. If ever there was a way to reinforce the notion of BlogHer as a female ghetto, it’s to feature it alongside articles on ‘Dining & Wine’, ‘Home & Garden’ and ‘Weddings/Celebrations’.

7 Responses to “Irony in the New York Times’ Coverage of BlogHer”

  1. Ehren Cheung

    Darren, you highlighted a great point. When Jeremy Owyang posted the link on twitter today, it was one of the first things I noticed about the article in the NYT.

    The only part of the article that was remotely related to fashion and style was the first paragraph or two. Ironically this article should have been placed more appropriately in business or technology considering its focus and content.

  2. melanie Watts

    I agree with you that having the blogher article in the fashion and style section rather than the business or technology sections of the New York Times demeans Blogher. However, after checking out your link to technorati’s top ten blogs I see four of them have nothing to do with technology, The huffington Post, ( breaking news and opinion not necessarily technology related.) Boing boing, (weblog of cultural curiosities and a bit about interesting technologies) icanhascheezburger.com, ( about cats) and Mashable! The #1 Social Networking and Social Media News Blog,

    The real reason women get short changed is because they are women. Men have nothing good to say about Martha Stewart or Anita Roddick despite the fact they are as good as or better business people than their male counterparts.

    The other reason is all successful business men have wives. Women, on the other hand, have to do it all themselves.

  3. darren

    Melanie: I was using a looser definition of technology than you. Mashable is about Web 2.0, and has much in common with TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb. If we’re going to include the latter two in being ‘about technology’, then Mashable should be included too.

    I included Boing Boing (I was thinking of it when I included the adjective ‘arguably’) because while ostensibly it’s about many things, a great many of those things have to do with technology. I don’t know when they ran this survey, but it shows that Boing Boing’s readership is overwhelmingly male.

    I recognize that there are many profound reasons for the inequalities between men and women in the workplace. They’re beyond the scope of Ms. Jesella’s article and this post. That’s why I indicated that she’d missed ‘a key point’ specifically about ‘the blogosphere’.

  4. Eva

    But the article also says:
    “There is a measure of parity on the Web. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, among Internet users, 14 percent of men and 11 percent of women blog.” So it seems to come down to topics, money, and status.

  5. Eva

    PS a reflection of low (blogging) status is exactly what you mention – putting this article in style section. Calling this placement irony is really giving them more benefit of doubt than I would.

  6. darren

    Eva: Like nearly every area where women get a short shrift, it’s also about history. The blogosphere started out very technology-focused, and longevity often correlates to popularity online.

  7. Derek K. Miller

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. From a task force I was on in 1992:

    “The [online] community tends to be male, of European descent, middle-class, scientifically-oriented, and North American and European in location. Thus the culture that has evolved does not include a large part of the wider diverse community. Inevitably, the preoccupations and prejudices of the largest group of users have coloured the character and development of information- technology-based media. Fiat will not change this orientation, although it would undoubtedly bring about some degree of subterfuge. What is needed is an end to the effective monopoly over a powerful medium.”

    The composition of the online community may have changed in 16 years, but there’s still a lot of momentum in that character and development.

Comments are closed.