Blogger Moms in the Wall Street Journal’s Face

Wed, April 23, 2008

Making Our Political Voices Heard


About two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the famed dooce entitled, The Blogger Mom, In Your Face.

Sue Shellenbarger, who writes about work and family for the WSJ, wrote:

“Mommy blogs in general tend to be everyday diaries of details one might share over coffee — baby’s first step or the perils of finding a preschool. Most are blander than Dooce, less humorous and significantly less profane.”

I really like Shellenbarger’s writing and I think she picks great topics to focus on, but having been newly schooled about the art of contacting journalists and writing letters to the editor, I thought, ‘Hey, I don’t agree with that and I should let her know!’

Today, I learned the rough lessons of how editing can change the tone and flavor of one’s original intent.

The day the story ran, I sent off the following E-mail:

Dear Ms. Shellenbarger,

I was interested to read your article today entitled “The Blogger Mom, In Your Face.” You wrote:

“Mommy blogs in general tend to be everyday diaries of details one might share over coffee — baby’s first step or the perils of finding a preschool.”

I am afraid I have to disagree with that characterization. I am a mother and a blogger and have been lumped in the category of “mommy bloggers” for some time. But my blog, PunditMom, focuses on political topics. I focus on politics at a variety of other outlets, as well, including MOMocrats, MomsRising and BlogHer. Yesterday, I wrote a post for The Huffington Post entitled Blogging is the New Feminist Act.

My blog is featured as an Alltop poltical blog, as are others including MOMocrats.

To characterize mothers who blog as people who just want to write about baby’s first step or finding a preschool is incorrect. A multitude of women blog about many other things about their lives, their thoughts and their beliefs. A short tour of the blogosphere will produce many examples.

I would love to talk with you about this aspect of mothers and blogging, which has received very little attention in the media, if you are ever writing on this topic in the future.

To my surprise, a few days later, I received a very nice response from Shellenbarger, saying she’d like to submit my letter to her as a possible letter to the editor to run in response to her article! Pay dirt! Of course, my letter wasn’t short enough, so she asked, and I agreed to, have my letter submitted as follows:


Sue Shellenbarger characterized mommy blogs as “everyday diaries of details one might share over coffee — baby’s first step or the perils of finding a preschool.” As a mother and a blogger, I disagree. My blog, PunditMom, focuses on political topics. To characterize mothers who blog as people who just want to write about baby’s first step or finding a preschool is incorrect. A multitude of women blog about many other topics arising from their lives, their thoughts and their beliefs. This aspect of mothers and blogging has received very little attention in the media.


She did tell me it might get cut some more. But I was surprised when I saw it this morning like this:

To characterize mothers who blog as people who just want to write about baby’s first step or finding a preschool is incorrect. A multitude of women blog about many other topics in their lives, including their thoughts and their beliefs. This aspect of mothers and blogging has received very little attention in the media.

Still not bad, but not exactly what I was trying to convey.

So a lesson to all of us — don’t beat around the bush and be more succinct if you want your meaning to come through for others to read!

But, hey, it’s one more step toward “mommy blogger” world domination! ;)

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18 Responses to “Blogger Moms in the Wall Street Journal’s Face”

  1. Donna Says:

    I bet if you blogged from a right-wing perspective, the reference to PunditMom would NOT have been omitted.

    But hey — just getting published is an honor!

  2. Amy Says:

    They should have at least referenced your blog.

  3. Becky Says:

    Good for you for clearing that up. It would have been better if you’d gotten a word count so you could have submitted it and have it run as intended. Still … good for you.

  4. toddlerplanet Says:

    True on all counts. I know the Post has a recommended word count, and when I stuck to it, I got published in full. I imagine the WSJ’s word count is smaller, though.

    Disappointing that they edited it twice, though, the second time without your knowledge. They totally should have left some blog references in.

    KUDOS to you for writing! Hoo-rah!

  5. Glennia Says:

    I thought the two sentences made your point very well (though I’m disappointed that they didn’t mention MOMocrats, but whatever–we should pitch a story to Sue S.)

  6. Sunshine Says:

    Thank you for doing the networking and followup the rest of us are too lazy to do…well, OK, I’m speaking for myself.

    But I hate the connotation of the term “mommyblogger” because is does nothing short of pigeonhole an incredibly diverse group of women. I have four kids who are the occasional blog fodder, but it is really a fraction of the writing I do, there’s more to me than my kids and the sooner mainstream media can embrace that, the better.

    So, I’m patting you on the back.

  7. Mamma Says:

    I was glad to see your note in there. I too wish folks would understand that us mommybloggers cover a much broader range of topics.

    Her assertion that what we discuss on our blogs is like what we’d discuss over coffee seems to dismiss any topic as long as it’s being discussed by women.

    That’s a real shame.

  8. Mom101 Says:

    I think it comes across just fine – a quick counter point, even if it wasn’t specific enough. I wish they had at least left in the term politics. Blogging about our “beliefs” could mean simply “I believe in breastfeeding.”

    Even so, GOOD ON YOU WOMAN.

  9. Chicky Chicky Baby Says:

    I suppose it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But they could have referenced your blog. Maybe the almighty Google will right that wrong.

  10. Blog Antagonist Says:

    That is why I have resisted the label of “Mommyblogger”. It’s somehow diminishing, even though it shouldn’t be.

    Good for you for writing to her. I always think about it but never do.

    That said, I am interested in branching out a little and maybe doing some freelance work. How, exactly does one go about querying publications like those for which you write? If you don’t mind sharing your experience, could you email me? blog_antagonist@yahoo.com

    Thanks.

  11. Amy@UWM Says:

    Yeah…mainstream media…not so much trustworthy. So easy to take quotes, sound bites and words in general out of context. But so glad you stood up for us mommybloggers, especially those of us who blog about things other than baby’s first steps.

  12. Nancy Says:

    The limited definition of “mommy blogger” that the WSJ author used is exactly why I don’t like the term and prefer not to use it to define my style or genre. Yes, I am a mom and yes, I blog. But that’s like calling me a “Coffee blogger” because I like coffee and have a blog and occasionally write about coffee on my blog.

    Must we ALWAYS define ourselves as mothers first? (OK, so it is the first word in the title of my blog…) ;-)

  13. TEOM Says:

    Thanks for sticking up for the rest of us.

  14. Selfmademom Says:

    We’re not going to cure the bad impressions about mommy blogging in short character counts, but at
    least it keeps the conversation going. You go!

  15. Kim Moldofsky Says:

    Good for you for speaking up, even if your thoughts were truncated and your blogs were not mentioned.

    That would be great if Sue wrote about political mom bloggers.

  16. lildb Says:

    I’m proud of you for grabbing the initiative and writing, and doubly so for getting into the paper. I agree with Mom101 tho – wish they’d *at minimum* have left “politics” in as opposed to “beliefs.” Beliefs just sounds too — faith-based. blech.

    Why can’t women be characterized as mothers without having to be simul-cast as religious-y? faith-y?

    anyway. you rule for getting it in there anyway. *grumbles over dumb media*

  17. Karen Sugarpants Says:

    Good for you for writing to her. I like that you posted the full version here though (here from Momocrats).

  18. Triathlonmom Says:

    Ahhh, don’t you just love editors? I mean for me, that is one of the reasons I blog, so I don’t have to put up with that crap!
    Thank goodness we don’t have to pay for the newsprint for our longwinded ideas!


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