Note to Bloggers: Fight Bad Content, Not Martha Stewart

A tiff with bloggers reveals the tension that still exists between traditional and online media. But are fights like these even worth it?

learn more about Linda Lacina

By Linda Lacina • Oct 10, 2013 Originally published Oct 10, 2013

Seth Wenig/AP Photo
Martha Stewart

Leave it to Martha Stewart to dredge up Digital Age drama.

Some bloggers are up in arms over an off-the-cuff remark Stewart made in an interview with a Bloomberg reporter last week, highlighting the friction that still exists between traditional and online media.

When asked about social media and poor taste, Stewart said: "Who are these 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 didn't go over well, with some bloggers feeling belittled and dismissed. Others were "disgusted and appalled." And possibly confused. One woman wrote: "Someone who has learned to sew or craft and has created great new, creative things is not an expert without a degree from the Martha Stewart school of trained pretentious wax figures." (I ask: Is that a real school? And do the wax figures attend or just teach, possibly in an adjunct capacity? I have so many questions. But I digress.)

What this tiff reveals is an interesting reality: a tension still exists between independent bloggers and legacy brands. There's a latent insecurity in the lifestyle space that seeks legacy validation.

Part of this friction stems from the long history of established women's lifestyle brands. For more than a century, women's magazines provided the ultimate -- and only -- lifestyle filter. To give you a sense of how long the history stretches back, Good Housekeeping was founded in 1885 (Woodrow Wilson's daughter once directed coverage there) and Cosmopolitan came a year later. Ladies Home Journal, a relative spring chicken, is 106, but still older than the production Model T (which rolled off the assembly line in 1908).

Martha Stewart's additions are far newer, with her first cookbook and magazine coming in the 1980s and "90s. Her contributions are important, however, because she tied lifestyle to personality, and expanded a personal brand to television, home goods and even home developments themselves. Women not only looked up to Stewart -- they felt inspired by her. So much so that when personal blogging tools became readily available and people could create their own mini online magazines, bloggers built their brands with the template she made famous. After all, if she created her empire by hand and reinvented herself through cooking and homemaking, why couldn't they?

The illusion lies in the ease of the new tools. Online seems like the great equalizer, since it can make you believe there is a level playing field. Unfortunately, that's never the case. Everyone with a piano will not play it well any more than everyone with an online platform can sustain a lifestyle brand. It comes down not to pedigree or trade (which never hurts) but talent and hard work (which always helps). This is not to say there aren't many amazing blogs, including many created by current and former legacy editors. But even the bloggers agree that there are many more that aren't, packed with errors and bad advice.

Bloggers feel stung because they are talented and enthusiastic and supported Stewart after her legal troubles several years ago. However, the friction here does not come from who made whom or who owes whom. Independent bloggers and legacy media feed each other in many ways. Legacy media is happy to tap into the blogosphere for a fast track to the zeitgeist just as bloggers are happy to have their profiles elevated and validated by print profiles, contributing staff positions, books and movies.

At issue is quality. Bloggers think they are fighting traditional media for respect. That's not the case. The battle they should be waging is against bad content. Legacy media charges up this hill, too, and there are few victors.

The curious part for me is the amount of time put into online tiffs like this one. Does the Internet need more open letters? As a writer, I look at this and think: We all have the same challenge, which is time, and using that to create what we think is the most meaningful. Do tiffs produce great content? They certainly don't further personal lifestyle brands. I'll point out that some of the best lifestyle bloggers, the ones who've learned to navigate online and traditional media the most successfully, didn't participate in this particular debate. They likely had their heads down working. For content creators of any stripe, I personally believe they're setting the right example.

Linda Lacina

Entrepreneur Staff

Linda Lacina is the former managing editor at Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Family Circle. Email her at Follow her at @lindalacina on Twitter. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Survey: A Majority of Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Sixty-four percent of U.S. consumers live paycheck to paycheck — even those who earn more than $100,000 a year.

Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.