Monday, February 12, 2007

Supermodels, supermoms, you and me

In my magazine days, the directive was clear: The reader wants service. All stories must have service. Push the service on the cover. Service, service, service. So everything we published had to be full of tips, how-tos, solutions, advice--you know, all the "8 easy ways to get your toddler to beg for brussels sprouts" and "10 top weight-loss tips from coke-addicted supermodels" and the like. It was exceedingly rare to publish a personal essay. ("It happened to me" disease-of-the-week or crime stories were the exception, of course.)

Fast-forward to now and the burgeoning blogosphere, and especially the mom-and-dad-o-sphere. Everyone seems to be writing and reading and commenting, and most of what we're all posting falls into that "personal essay" category. Is it that we are an entirely different audience from those magazine readers/subscribers? Is it that blogs are free, so our requirements are different--we don't feel such a need to get our $2.95's worth of advice?

Or is it that those magazines had it all wrong, all this time? That we were craving personal stories, unfiltered thoughts and ideas, and were just waiting for this medium to both express them and consume them?

I wonder.

15 comments:

binkytown said...

I don't know, I love the service bits, they reel me in everytime before I realize it's crap and not helpful. Obviously, being a blogger I prefer the personal stuff but I think I'd miss the service bits if they were gone. How else will I know the five hottest eyebrow shapes of 2007?

Kate said...

As someone who never really cared about the latest eyebrow pencil craze, I have always preferred the stories of the "everyday" people in the world. So it's all about blogging now for me. That is, when I can find the time.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I read Child magazine, it's the only parenting one I get. My two favorite sections are Miss Manners and the personal essay on the back page. So -- what does that mean?

I like blogs because after awhile I feel like I know the writer. I look to them more for a (distant) kind of friendship or at least commisseration. I don't look to blogs for facts. So: I think I'd miss the how-tos also.

Her Bad Mother said...

The mags had it wrong. THEY HAD IT WRONG.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Speaking as one whose bookshelves are filled with essay collections, I'm the wrong one to ask.

But yes. I say we want to see the universal in the personal. We want to see we are not alone.

I already know all I need to know about brussel sprouts.

Julie Pippert said...

I think I realized the "service" articles in most magazines were no service whatsoever, in general, by the time I hit college.

I think the magazines had the right idea, with frequently the wrong implementaiton. I kept crying, "MORE MATTER, LESS ART!"

By adulthood I realized the point is: really, nobody can tell YOU how to go about YOUR life.

So now I really like blogs and news services. In the one I get personal-real-life information, ideas, and a sense of being a part of something more than just me. At the newsservices I get some facts, links, and mostly-objective-information. Sometimes the two overlap in which case I say YAHOO.

mothergoosemouse said...

It took me a long time to appreciate blogs. But I never really did appreciate all those service pieces in the magazines that I rarely read - too much product placement, even in what was supposed to be a story, not an ad.

Damselfly said...

Interesting points. Maybe it's the medium? Blogs are more personal, so maybe that's why there are more essays. Or maybe the service pieces were there to support the ads.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

The magazines all overdid it. We were desperate for content.

Lady M said...

I never much liked the Top Ten Tips columns, since I wasn't motivated enough to follow up. I liked and still enjoy interviews of celebs and regular people, and seeing how they handle life's little challenges.

lildb said...

that's a fascinating thing to ponder, and I think you're right; that we all have stories to share, and to hear, and leaving the discerning-a-moral/good advice to live by within the tale up to the audience is kinda more pleasurable/palatable.

also, ///.

(why can't I quit with the slashes lately?)

also, I heart you for being so supportive of my you-know-what.

xoxoxo

Lisa said...

That's a very interesting thought. And prefer blogs now because like Jennifer, I like to feel I know a bit more about the writer... I feel more connected here...

Heather said...

I guess in blogs I see the service is other people sharing their opinions, stories, and lessons. I still have magazines laying around but I love the blogosphere.

Its less overt than magazines, I can try out 50 a day if I have the time and its free. I can go back and visit the ones I like without commiting to them for a year and I generally don't have to dig to find the end of the story.

Unfortunately I can't read blogs in the bathtub or in the doctor's office.

SUEB0B said...

The service was overdone and watered down and much of it was crap we already knew anyway: Drink more water! Wear sunscreen or put on a hat!

I hate many personal essays, too. Maybe I'm just a crabby bitch.

movin'mom said...

okay I'm just throwing this out there but I was hysterically laughing inside at the lady at the library who said ...she just doesn't get it...the whole blog thing.... 10 points for you and your poker face!!!!