Yesterday a Bloomberg News video with Martha Stewart made the rounds on Facebook and ignited a frenzy of indignation from the women’s blogging world. In the interview, Martha disparages bloggers by saying they are “not experts,” that they don’t fully test recipes, that many just repost other people’s work. Here’s a sample of the conversation that exploded on Facebook yesterday. (Shown with permission from an expert in many things, Amy Oztan)
So, here’s the deal.
Martha is totally right.
And she didn’t say anything that bloggers haven’t said amongst ourselves every time we get together. I had this conversation over and over again at BlogHer this year.
Are there amazing bloggers who are absolutely experts in their fields? YES.
Are there bloggers that are full of it, steal other people’s work, put up anything any PR person sends them, are completely based on smoke and mirrors and everyone wonders why any brands work with them? HELL YES.
Now aside from the fact that you can tell the Martha Stewart interview was edited down to just these perfect controversial sound bites – I’d love to see the context of Martha’s discussion of bloggers – there also has to be a reality check in the blogging world. Not everything is cause for outrage. And sometimes the very media outlet that puts out the video and calls it
Martha Stewart Speaks Out: Bloggers Are Not Experts
needs to be called out for playing this game in the first place. This is 30 seconds out of who knows how many minutes of footage. I’m guessing at least a half an hour. And they got exactly the reaction they wanted – all of the bloggers making this video go viral.
Martha Stewart should know better than to ever say what she said, even just from a savvy PR point of view. But, she is someone who truly knows the media landscape. She knows that blogging and the content machine have changed the way people get and want their information. As Cecily Kellogg points out over at Babble, Martha Stewart’s company has taken a major hit, as have all large publishing companies, as they try to evolve in the changing digital media world. But that doesn’t mean she’s wrong about how many bloggers operate – or large online platforms – Babble, Baby Center and even the New York Times have certainly had their share of plagiarism scandals.
So let’s take a step back and get real. Martha Stewart certainly doesn’t need me to defend her, but we also don’t need to be piling on one of the most successful female entrepreneurs – someone who elevated the crafting, food, and style niches to begin with, and proved there was a business model there – just to make bloggers feel justified about what they do.
If you’re an expert, prove it by turning out great, original content, and hopefully you will be able to make a living doing what you love. And I bet if Martha asked you to contribute to her Pinterest Boards you’d do it in a heartbeat – because nothing proves you’re an expert more than the seal of approval from an indisputable expert in your field.