Martha and the bloggers

Martha Stewart

There's been a lot of fuss in the food blogosphere recently which can be summed up as the story of Martha and the bloggers. It is not about a new singing group (though that is a great name) but about an interview Martha Stewart gave to Bloomberg TV in which she is quoted as saying about bloggers, ""They're not trained editors and writers 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. Bloggers create kind of a popularity. But they are not the experts and we have to understand that."

This did not go over at all well. Not only are there some excellent bloggers who can easily refute that criticism but, to a large extent, Martha's audience for her media productions and home goods are the same people who love to read food and home blogs - which, at least until now, often championed and gave publicity to Martha's recipes and products. As a writer at Blog Her indignantly wrote: 

"Some bloggers may not meet your (reputedly high) standards for one thing or another, whether it's AP style or studio photography or test kitchen layout, but there's no doubt about one thing: They're experts. For one thing, they're experts in blogging itself. They are doing it every day. You are not -- and it's clear in your interview that you're not aware, or have forgotten, that blogging is a community activity, and that the community takes its role in upholding standards very seriously. Sure, those standards haven't been 100% agreed upon; social media is still a young media. But it's also true that bloggers probably know more about, and can better identify, what makes an expert than you can."

However, it appears that Martha, maybe, has seen the error of her ways. Eater reports that she's posted a Tweet that reads, "Big hubbub about me not supporting bloggers. Martha Stewart loves most bloggers who are great friends and trusted allies."

Not to our mind a very gracious explanation or apology for the hurt feelings - whether people are too sensitive or not. We'd have to agree with Adam Roberts who writes in HuffPost Taste, "This was a telling, unguarded moment for Martha and one that reflects the vintage, bespoke bubble she's living in with her dogs in Connecticut."

Now, admittedly, Martha has created her empire by creating an idealized world where people had the time to carve immaculate pumpkins or shellack turkeys, but her secret was that she never acknowledged that reaching that ideal was less than possible for most people who exist in the real day-to-day world. We think she has forgotten that keeping up a pretense that she and her audience were sisters (and brothers) underneath was vitally important to both her success and her public  -  and that is why we're disappointed.

5 Comments

  • Christine  on  10/24/2013 at 3:47 PM

    Adam Roberts, the blogger behind Amateur Gourmet, wrote a really excellent post on this subject and I think his observations and conclusions are pretty spot on. He captures very well why so many people enjoy reading blogs even though they are not written by magazine editors. I highly recommend reading the whole post, but one of his main points was that if Martha were starting out today, she'd likely start a blog! http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2013/10/whatever-martha.html

  • TrishaCP  on  10/24/2013 at 4:16 PM

    This is the same type of debate that has cropped up before between bloggers and experienced food journalists/ recipe testers. (I forget the context, but it was a panel of some type.) I don't agree with sweeping generalizations about anything, but there is a kernel of truth to what Martha is saying- which is probably part of the reason bloggers are so upset. While there are bloggers out there that do a great job with original recipes that work (101 Cookbooks and Sprouted Kitchen come to mind)- I can think of at least one other blog where the writer that cooks has been phoning it in for years with mistake-laden recipes and where by now, her specific "expertise" has been surpassed by much better blogs in that genre. But yet, her readers still seem to love her, so they must not be tuning in for the recipes.

  • Lisa Hill  on  10/25/2013 at 2:49 AM

    It's the same argument about professional book reviewers and book bloggers. Sure, professionals have an expertise crafted over many years and they often have professional qualifications too. But there's a 'market' out there for the interactive approach, the conversations that can take place about books on a book blog, and the distinctive style of book bloggers that their readers learn to trust. And the reality is that if bloggers write rubbish, nobody will read them, and then they fade away. (Nobody, for instance, trusts Amazon reviews any more since the scandals.) The interesting thing is that it's not bloggers who feel threatened. It's the print media that fears the rise of the new media as a rival. I think there's a place for both and we need to support both because we'll lose the expertise of the professionals if they can't make a living from their writing. Nobody really wants to rely solely on amateurs. Whether we're writing about food or books or movies or whatever, I reckon there's room for everyone.

  • sisterspat  on  10/25/2013 at 2:41 PM

    The more one knows the better one does. I try to keep an open but informed mind. Martha is not one of my favorites for sure. Just keep reading and learning and hopefully make a well informed choice.

  • boardingace  on  11/3/2013 at 1:04 PM

    I don't find Martha's comment offensive because I think that it's true. I've made recipes from blogs that I realized were really poorly designed, and I'm spoiled by America's Test Kitchen whose recipes are fool-proof. I didn't "hear" Martha saying that bloggers aren't enormously popular or even amazingly wonderful - which they ARE. I love reading food blogs and find them inspiring and community-building. On the other hand, there are limits to blogs because most aren't written by professional chefs. To admit that one (as a group, i.e., bloggers) is not perfect is not a shortcoming, it's just reality! I love the (imperfect) world of food blogs.

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