I loved BlogHer. That may make me entirely uncool but I don’t care. From the Thursday night parties to the end of the Unconference on Sunday, I found it exhilarating being surrounded by women who write. Having 1,000 women in one hotel entirely changes the experience for all the guests. I think everyone staying at the Westin St. Francis July 17 – July 21st was touched by us in some way.
When I first noticed the July 27th New York Times article about BlogHer, I was happy for two reasons. First, Vanessa Longman had been included. Second, the article was another of many recent acknowledgments of the importance of women as a group. Since I read the article on-line, I did not at first notice what section it was in.
Then I saw the complaints about the New York Times choosing to run the article in the Style section. I looked up the writer, Kara Jessella in My Cision (formerly known as Bacon’s) journalist database which describes her as “a Contributing Beauty and Fashion Writer. She is also the beauty editor and style contributing editor for The New York Times Magazine.” I also found she was co-author of “How Sassy Changed My Life.” Coming from that perspective, she made an effort to talk to a variety of bloggers, including health and political bloggers, who credited her with listening well and being nice, and she wrote in her voice.
Fortunately, before I published my conjecture of why the NY Times story appeared in the Fashion & Style section, Tricia Romano of Pop and Politics actually got the NYT Style Section Editor, Trip Gabriel, to describe how the article landed in the Style section. Tricia also got a quote from Kara who explained that she pitched the story to Trip Gabriel for the obvious reason that he is her go-to guy at the NY Times. Tricia quotes Mr. Gabriel as writing:
“Kara Jesella’s article is smack-dab in the bull’s eye of stories Sunday Styles has run for years. When people ask if a ‘serious’ piece about glass ceilings is undermined by appearing in a section that covers fashion, beauty and other ‘superficial’ topics, I’m pretty sure they haven’t been reading The Times’s style sections deeply or for long. We do cover these topics, of course, along with all kinds of social trends and attempts to decode the zeitgeist, but we try very hard not to write about beauty or fashion in a promotional or superficial way.”
As someone who pitches stories about “single lifestyle,” I’m well aware of the murky editorial landscape for finding a home for social trend and lifestyle articles.
Megan Carpentier of Jezebel made the good point that the New York Times has written about male bloggers in the same section.
In my opinion, the New York Times BlogHer article and the discussion around it are part of a transition in the right direction. The article has since been cross-posted in the technology section of NYTimes.com.
The best part of BlogHer for me was the women I met. I had warned many in comments on their blogs that I was going to hug them when I saw them. Fortunately, no one was turning me down. First allow me to share the few photos I was able to capture of women I finally met in person that I already loved on-line: Vanessa, Leah and Laura.
@vvanpetten Vanessa Van Petten Teens Today
A full description of Leah Jones’s contribution to my life requires a post of its own. Suffice it to say here that Leah inspired me to get on Twitter and start my blog for which I am grateful.
@pistachio Laura Fitton
I didn’t get photos but I was so pleased to finally meet on-line pals @GeekMommy Lucretia Pruitt, Stephanie Quilao Back in Skinny Jeans @AlizaSherman, @stephagresta, @QueenofSpain Erin Kotecki Vest, @rslux Rachel Luxemburg, @akamonty Shannon, @emom marianiles.
BlogHer was great for being introduced to women I didn’t know at all before, discovering them as people and reading their blogs for the first time. I asked for their Twitter addresses. There was so much talk of Twitter at BlogHer that I am sure quite a few women who had managed to ignore it up to now were compelled to finally get a Twitter handle.
I have so much more I want to share about being at BlogHer, but I really need to stop now and continue in my next post.