Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trouble in MarieClaire's Blogosphere

Now, I'm not a fashion or lifestyle writer but I think the controversy over MarieClaire blogger Maura Kelly's post "Should 'Fatties' Get A Room (Even On TV)" is worth mentioning. Kelly is a professional blogger, her career is posting her opinions on the internet. But, by coming out with the opinion that fat people shouldn't be shown in intimate scenes on TV because it grosses her out, she has caused a firestorm. The controversy has raised a lot of questions about professionalism in the blogging community.

I suggest you read her article, and then review the comments posted below it by readers. As a blogger it is all well and good to share your opinions, but where do you draw the line? Kelly is a representative of MarieClaire - not just of herself. By branding MarieClaire with her opinion she has apparently cost them a tremendous amount of business (if you believe the comment writers, at least). What standards do magazines and other companies use to hire bloggers? Are there any standards?

In the apology that she added to the original article, Kelly brings up that she suffers from anorexia and has had a life-long obsession with being thin. Hmm. That might have something to do with why she finds it unacceptable for overweight people to get romantic. Crazy thought, that MAYBE her personal background should constitute a conflict of interest and she should never have be allowed to blog about weight issues in the first place. As a writer, it was her responsibility to identify that conflict of interest.

Even if you feel you can be objective, you just can't write about issues with which you have a personal connection without disclosing that information properly. I can't write about issues involving law enforcement because so many members of my family are involved in that career field -- it is the reason I will always get tossed off jury duty. It gives me bias. As a writer you have to know yourself, and be honest with your readers about your personal conflicts of interest when they are applicable to the subject you are writing about.

But is a blogger really a professional writer? I am very interested in Ms. Kelly's background. Does she have a journalism degree? Does she do any research, or does she just spit out her own opinions? Why should anyone care what she says? Who is Maura Kelly? What makes her qualified to eschew her thoughts on an issue like popular conception of body image in the entertainment industry?

I wish someone would pay me to say whatever thoughts cross my mind. Maybe they'll be an open position for blogger at MarieClaire sometime soon? I wonder if they need a science writer...