Are bloggers taken seriously?

Julie, a blogger over at Wine Me Dine Me Cincinnati, asked in this article if female bloggers are taken seriously. Here’s my reaction:

To be honest, I am not sure the gender of the blogger matters to me at all… Content rules. My selection of blogs to read is not influenced by the gender of the writer (it seems unlikely to me that I’d recommend a blog to someone just because, “it’s written by a man!”. If I recommended a blog to you in such a way, I imagine that your first question would be, “What’s the blog about?” — asking about the content).

In fact, of the blogs I read regularly (I have a giant list of feeds in my FeedDemon) that aren’t specifically gender-focused, I tend not to know the gender of the author in most cases. The content is what’s important and is the ultimate measure of the value of the blog in my world.

Also, though I cannot speak to the motiviations of your friend who said, “Does it really matter?” ;-) , I suspect that he was commenting on the fact that content, not gender, should determine if a blog is taken seriously. That being said, I feel it was short-sighted that the author of the local article did not include female bloggers, or any bloggers other than white males.

My short answer to the question of if female bloggers are taken seriously is the same answer to the question of if male bloggers are taken seriously: No. Bloggers are not taken seriously solely as a function of gender. If the content is good and should be taken seriously, then they are — and should be — taken seriously as bloggers. Regardless of gender.

Do I feel that people should or should not read my blog solely because of my gender? No. I hope to attract and keep them with my (infrequently-updated) content that happens to be written by a male.

The broader question — are bloggers taken seriously? — is a salient one even removing the gender issue. As a blogger of more than 12 years (and sysop of The Cafe’ BBS for years before that), I believe that bloggers are not taken as seriously as “traditional” journalists. And, in my opinion as a long-time blogger, that’s okay. I take my blogging seriously, but do not think that I am doing anything more than sharing my opinion with those who care to read it.

The oldest blogs (not counting “finger” .plans which date into the late 1970’s, but don’t fit into the widely-accepted definition of “blogs”) ON THE PLANET are less than 30 years old (the first “dot com” was registered in 1985). Just one example, I’ve got copies of GOURMET magazine from the 1950s in my house, and they’re not “early” issues! GOURMET was founding in the early 1940’s, I think, so they’re incredibly established and therefore have a longer, more enduring reputation to uphold. It’s far too easy to start a blog — no matter if one has the “chops” or not — and call oneself a ‘journalist’, expecting to be taken seriously.

Do I think this will always be the case? No, of course not. We’re exploring the web and blogging as new media and the validity of bloggers seems to be increasing. But just because one has a keyboard and a blank page, it doesn’t make one a writer any more than having a knife and a pan makes one a chef.

8 thoughts on “Are bloggers taken seriously?”

  1. Thanks for your response! I totally agree that content should be king– er, queen– but, unfortunately, I don’t think everyone is as progressive as you are. :) That content may be fantastic, but for some people– still– if it comes from a woman, it’s not always looked on with as much seriousness as if it came from a man. When was the last time you got a comment criticizing your outfit or appearance and not your content? Look at the ’08 Democratic primary: some people wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for president, even though she was arguably more qualified than Obama for the sole reason that she was a woman. Journalists– non bloggers and bloggers alike– commented on her “emotionality” and her clothing– but you’d never hear that about the male candidates. Then again, some people won’t vote for Obama because he’s black.

    As far as bloggers being taken as seriously as journalists? I think that the wheat will always separate from the chaff, and the good bloggers will (hopefully) stay around and get better and the ones that aren’t won’t. Newspapers are losing circulation and people don’t trust the media like they used to– gone are the days of the anchors-as-father-figures– and slowly, well-researched, blog-based journalism is gaining a lot of headway. I think it’ll be interesting who gets the scoop in the election– traditional journalists or bloggers.

    Certainly, the blogosphere (man, do I hate that word) is in its infancy, and I doubt it will ever entirely replace newspapers and books (I refuse to read ebooks, personally), but I think that there’s room for both the serious blog journalist AND the person who wants to write about their puppies and weekends. That’s the beauty of the web– there’s always been a place for everyone (and man, we do mean everyone…).

  2. And now I remember why I don’t use FeedDemon– I’m on a mac and i prefer my feeds to be portable. Thus Google Reader is my perfect solution. :)

  3. Interesting debate. I agree with you- it’s about concent- not gender. The NY Times ran an interesting article yesterday about the BlogHer conference. They released new stats on the blogosphere- gender percentages.

  4. @Julie: No argument that Google Reader is a great solution, but FeedDemon’s feeds ARE portable… I read synchronized feeds on three different computers (well, FOUR if you count my PDA, which also synchronizes).

  5. @Julie: True… I guess Google Reader is your best option! Google Reader, especially with a few Firefox extensions, is a damned fine reader.

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