Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Throw a Blogger Under the Internet Bus: Editor's Edition

The more I think about Maura Kelly and her tactless, tasteless post, the more angry I become, but not at Ms. Kelly.  Rather the person who are the subject of my ire is the editor who suggested that Ms. Kelly, a self-proclaimed recovering anorexic, write a piece on weight.  Ms. Kelly presents her slanted viewpoint, which said editor approves and publishes for millions of people to read.  On top of that, when all hell breaks loose from every corner of the globe, the EIC Joanna Coles goes on record to state "Maura Kelly is a very provocative blogger.”  “She was an anorexic herself and this is a subject she feels very strongly about.”
(Note to Joanna Coles: When you think that dating advice and looking for first time love is provocative, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.) 

So, let me see if I got this right.  The editor suggested (and the EIC approved) an assignment on overweight people showing affection to an admitted anorexic, one who states in her blog profile that "though she's in her thirties, she's never been in love before - and has started to wonder if she ever will be."  Asking a weight-phobic, inexperienced 'lover' to write about 'fatties' is about as intelligent as asking a member of AA to cover the local wine fest.  Would you tell the one-legged kid to hop through a mine field as a sweeper?  No, because it's stupid, unfair, and sets up the perfect recipe for disaster. 

The way I see it, there are three ways of looking at this editorial job, and none are flattering in any light.  Either Maura Kelly's editor (and Joanna Coles) are:
  • unintelligent/not the sharpest knives in the drawer,
  • ignorant, like-minded bigots or
  • opportunist media whores    
 Let's break this down using some old-fashioned logic, shall we?

First off, I think to say that the editors are unintelligent would be a fallacy.  Joanna Coles is the editor in chief at Marie Clare and she didn't get there overnight.  My guess is that it took years of back-breaking labor, many late nights at the office, and at times, a stunted social life.  As for the editor directly over Maura Kelly, I can assume that she has operated under the same format as Ms. Coles in order to gain the position she is in now.  So clearly, neither editor is lacking in grey matter. 

Second, to say that the editors are like-minded 'fattie' haters would be difficult to pinpoint.  As neither editor has been cited for making inflammatory remarks and we are unaware of their private thoughts, it is not fair to brand either editor as a bigot.  However, if we were to go on the premise that actions speak louder than words, by approving Maura Kelly's piece for publication, they were de facto mirroring her sentiments.  This blogger, willing to err on the side of caution and not throw stones out of spite, will not brand the editors as hate-mongers.

Third, where I draw my conclusion, is that Joanna Coles and the un-named editor are opportunistic media whores.  Since Maura's post hit the web, there has been over several thousand hits to the website.   An admitted anorexic freelance writer is given a suggested topic.  She in turn brings her fears, predispositions, and insecurities into the picture.  Her article is then approved by not only her immediate editor, but by proxy the EIC, and her name is now mud on the bathroom wall of the Internet. That's okay, because bad publicity is better than no publicity at all, right?  Ad revenue must be up by 150%. 

While both editors have well established careers and will not suffer much from this fallout, it appears that Maura Kelly's budding career may come to a crashing halt.  I pity her for the daily struggles she must make with each bite of food she puts in her mouth, but do I excuse her terrible remarks?  No, not in the least.  She is responsible for her own prejudices.  But the editors who allowed that piece to be published, I hold them entirely responsible.  Just as a parent is there to lookout for the good of their child and correct that child's ill behaviors, the editor is there to look over the author's work to make sure there are no spelling errors, sentence structure and content are sound, and thoughts flow evenly.  (Note to editor, don't rely on spell check.  It's heroin, not heroine.  I know I make my mistakes when I blog, but I don't have a paid editor to catch my misspells.)

When these women editors passed on a piece of work that was rife with hate and condescending advice, they not only did a great injustice to all the people targeted by that work, they possibly put the nail in the coffin of a writer's career.