Thursday, October 17, 2013

Martha Stewart: Bloggers are Not Experts (Unless We Do Her Bidding)

I have mixed feeling about yesterday’s Martha Stewart’s interview when she dismisses bloggers with a wave of her hand and says in that elitist tone she’s been know to use:
Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. I mean there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create a kind of popularity, but they are not the experts. And we have to understand that.





In case you have not seen it, I’m embedding the Bloomberg.com video interview below:


I'm very disappointed with Martha Stewart's disparaging comments about bloggers especially when many of the blogger she insults, buy, use, and sometimes promote her products.

Sadly I’m not surprised Martha feels this way about bloggers because she sees us as competition and the reason why her company is losing money, 

Although I am astounded that Martha who is a smart business person, was stupid enough to insult such social media savvy people out loud and where they are sure to see it.

The very people who who blog for her on  Martha’s Circle “a community of the Web’s leading lifestyle blogs chosen by Martha Stewart editors,” the people who run her ad network on their blogs, the people Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) regularly invites to events (including myself) hoping we will promote her on our blogs and social media channels.

My visit to MSLO for a private Blogher10 event was lovely and the people who work in the company were nice to me. Unfortunately, it was clear MSLO's company line is they want to work AT bloggers by reprinting stories they gave us on our blogs without compensation and not WITH us a partner who knows our audiences and a thing or two about crafting informative posts you like to read.

And the bloggers she praised and inspired in person (again, including myself) last year during her BlogHer '12 keynote, when she said:
You also become reporters. You become a journalist. You might find you are a good writer, good communicator. The more you do it, the more people that will tweet you and communicate with you.
Yesterday I was so hurt and mad by Martha’s comments I wanted to write a mean post pointing out that Martha doesn’t have a cooking, gardening, or crafting degree either. She started as a divorced wife catering meals out of her home kitchen. I was ready to make a YouTube video of me deleting her magazine app from my iPad and putting every single MSLO product (which she doesn't make or develop. She partners with other companies put her label on it) I own in the trash can. “These bloggers”? The same bloggers who help your company every day? Like bloggers all of a sudden showed up in mass to the Internet party? Where is Martha living, 1998?

However, some of what Martha says about bloggers is true, but the same can be said of conventional media, and MSLO as well. There are good and bad people in every hobby and profession.
  • I know a blogger who had to stop blogging her way through Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts because the book regularly skips major steps in the tutorials. If you read the comments on Amazon, you’ll see that the information included in Martha’s book isn’t original. The book is all  reprints from Martha Stewart Living. Pot. Kettle. Black.
  • The same has been said about recipes in Martha Stewart Living. Although to be honest, food is very subjective and while some weird ingredients or fussy steps may be staples for the people she employs in her test kitchen, that may not always be the case for her readership. I’m no expert, but maybe people also want to learn how to make good food, quickly, on a budget from someone who had to learn who to cook one burnt meal at a time and tells you how to avoid the kitchen disasters that never happen in MSL. There is room in the media pool for all of us.


In Lazy Budget Chef world, I’m not afraid to show you what happens when you don’t keep your hand on top of an overly aggressive blender. In case you are wondering, the white fuzz in front are liquid splotches on my camera lens.

  • While many now consider Martha an expert in all things home related, she became an expert through DIY, just like bloggers. She worked hard to build her company. She’s 71 and still works an impressive 70 hours a week! Martha now hire experts to design and tend her gardens, create party decorations and crafts, develop her recipes and takes credit for their talented work. Most bloggers do all of the IT, writing, photography, developing content, social media promotion, and a bunch of related blogging stuff all by themselves and give credit where credit is due. Popular bloggers should be celebrated for doing something well enough that other people want to read their work. Bloggers shouldn't be dismissed for it with the wave of a hand.
I don't condone ANY of these actions or think plagiarism is OK (as a professional writer, plagiarism is my number one hot button of things that are illegal and wrong.) I'm pointing out that being professional and being an expert are not always the same thing and sadly it can happen in all forms of media, including traditional media.

I was and am offended for the amazing number of bloggers I know and read and for her hardworking and friendly staff and especially for the companies that develop Martha's products and value bloggers.  I hoped it was Martha misspeaking in an interview and gave myself 24 hours to cool off.

Today I saw Martha Stewart’s 3rd person Twitter “clarification.” Obviously it came from her company’s social media and PR team trying to do damage control. Clearly this is not an apology or even a message from Martha herself.

marthastewartbloggertweet

So, I’m guessing Martha only loves the bloggers who play by her arbitrary and only known to Martha blogging rules.

That’s sad.

It hurts when someone you admire stabs you in the face.

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