Influential women in the media

I hate to resuscitate the tired old subject of girls vs. boys, which last cropped up in the Jonathan Franzen/Jodi Picoult/ Jennifer Weiner flap and even stirred the pot here at dystel.com, but I was reading Lisa Belkin’s piece in the New York Times Magazine on “Queen of the Mommy Bloggers” and saw that Heather Armstrong, author and founder of the popular blog Dooce had been listed as number 26th on the Forbes List of Most Influential Women in Media.  Said list was compiled in 2009 and I’ve not seen a more recent version, so it may be that her position has shifted. But I was pretty surprised. And I couldn’t decide whether I was pleased that a blogger with an entirely grassroots following and a domestic beat made it into this elite company (Oprah, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, Ariana Huffington, Tine Brown) or dismayed that the pickings are so slim that a successful blogger can make the cut. Although her numbers are nothing to sneeze at—she gets 100,000 visitors a day and has 1.5 million Twitter followers–it’s hard to imagine that on a Most Influential Men in Media list (something Forbes does not actually compile) we would see her counterpart listed.   Instead, we’d see the men who own the media: Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Sumner Redstone, Steve Jobs, and I can go on, and on and on… Unlikely that the guys behind Stuff White People Like would be included in that most exclusive fraternity of moguls, kingmakers and thought-leaders.  I’m not a regular Dooce reader (with two small children of my own at home, I live the blog and read stuff with zero bearing on my life: Outside Magazine;  movie reviews) so maybe I don’t properly understand her influence.

What do you think? Good that a mommy blogger hits the bigtime, or just another example that we have not Come-a-Long-Way-Baby.

7 Responses to Influential women in the media

  1. Tricia says:

    I am a 40 something female attorney. In my profession, men still sometimes call me “sweetheart”, etc. One older gentleman keeps telling me “you’re a good girl”. I just cring. Unfortunately, it is part of what woman professionals face much too frequently. I think we have a long way to go still.

  2. Kelly Klem says:

    I think that people are generally turning away from the pretense of glamour (at least once they no longer have time to jump through hoops in a fair attempt at resembling idealized people)and seek, instead, for someone they can truly relate to. Being able to relate to a character – real or imagined – is affirming.

  3. Hmm, both sides have some merit, or at least make me think. In 2009, though, blogs were still taking off. I wonder if her inclusion on the list was simply because of that: she wasn’t anyone famous but because she used this crazy thing called a blog to connect to thousands of other moms, she gained a position of influence in the media. In other words, perhaps she was included because she represented something of an anomaly.

    At the same time, you’re right, a male version of the list would not look the same. There are very few, if any, women who have the same kind of power in the media as the figures you’ve listed, and that needs to change.

  4. What a delicious, juicy question! Alas, can’t respond right away – there should be a name for it – comment fatigue – when you just don’t have them “oomph” to respond (intelligently). Have composed a little poem just now, for a certain cheesy state, one lake away from mine:

    Rose are red
    violets are blue
    I wonder
    what the h*** is wrong with this country
    don’t you

    Now, women/media – that’s going to take a little time. But great observation!

  5. Ryan Field says:

    Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of inequality out there.

  6. Jessica says:

    Good comments, all. Who would you guys include on your own informal influential-women-in-media list, based on no hard data but your own preferences? My vote is Salon’s Laura Miller. She doesn’t have the reach of a Maureen Dowd or a Christiane Amanpour, but what she has to say (often about books) is intelligent and thoughtful.

  7. Influential women-in-media (IWIM?) – I vote for Rachel Maddow, hopefully she will branch out with a few books (hint, hint).

    Something I’ve noticed locally: The Mitch Albom phenomenon (via Wikipedia): “[Mitch Albom] is an American best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Having achieved national recognition for his sports writing in the earlier part of his career, he is perhaps best known now for the inspirational stories and themes that weave through his books, plays and films.”

    And then there is Rochelle Riley, and before her, Susan Watson, both Detroit Free Press columnists (like Mitch Albom) – however, their careers have NOT blossomed into “King of All Media” complexity, as Albom’s has.

    Why? Why no “Queen of All Media” title holders, aside from [perhaps] Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington? I mean, when you think of sheer cultural impact – doesn’t the Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes duo beat out all IWIM’s combined?

    Can there be an IWIM version of Fox News…? I feel embarrassed for Ms. Magazine…way back when, a friend’s mother divorced, and started subscribing to Ms. Magazine…and I remember, Ms. had a certain “tang” to it – now Fox News is the one with the tang (to put it politely)…oh well, I’m starting to ramble, thinking of the paneled family room in my friend’s house, and the stacks and stacks of unpainted china in the basement, from her mother’s pre-divorce, pre-feminist days…glowing like radioactive dinosaur eggs in the basement…to be dug up and repurposed by an insider trading, cupcake frosting media mogul decades later…the mysterious of life…

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