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So, do journalists hate bloggers?
Early last week, I attended one of the most beautiful beauty launches at The Connaught hotel and introduced myself to a girl who turned out to be the beauty intern at Stylist magazine. What I initially took to be a conversation and personal opinion, really turned out to be somewhat of a personal attack and an ignorant, sweeping statement about bloggers. She told me that I would never get to write for a magazine again because I ‘took a step down’ from journalism and it doesn’t matter that I’ve ever published work because in the eyes of editors, I’m just a blogger now. She also said that everyone in the room was probably wondering why she’s talking to me and who even am I? But don’t worry guys, she also said that she has “no problem with what I do”.
To be fair to her, she genuinely thought she was giving me advice and I try very hard to take everything constructively. However, the whole concept of a rift between the two roles has never fully made sense to me. Except from the skill of writing, working with PR’s and brands, there is actually very little else in common. However, the more I considered her words, the more the question rose in my mind; do journalists hate bloggers?
Bloggers are disrupting the fashion industry
Almost every industry that has stuck to the the status quo over the last decade has seen massive changes, challenging the very core of their business. From banks facing mobile-only counterparts, insurance and the numerous blockchain insurtech apps out there, to property and the startups guaranteeing sales in three months or the money upfront. These are championed all over Wired, Tech Crunch and newspapers but when the press talks about bloggers, they usually focus on scandals or how much money we apparently make. Why don’t they take us seriously? Part of the answer is all to do with image – there are 18 year old girls making bank straight from their bedroom. It all sounds like creepy click bait on the internet, “make £1000 a week from home!” and while that’s untrue and grossly exaggerated, surely journalists can’t hate bloggers because they’re ageist or against entrepreneurship. The truth is that those aren’t the overarching reasons, the issue is a lot more complex…
Welcome to the digital age
I once interned at a magazine where the editors claimed that they weren’t sure of their readership numbers and that they had no idea where they were stocked. Magazines (albeit the minority) could hypothetically fabricate their statistics with very little accountability. Online on the other hand, is trackable, requires knowledge of SEO and the consumer’s voice, and how to analyse the data to translate that into a strategy. Fake your numbers too much and someone is bound to notice, particularly because there isn’t a host of advertisers and investors pouring money into a blog to keep it looking glossy and popular. Consumers are demanding transparency and authentic opinion. To me, publishing will always hold the ultimate authority but the surge of influencer popularity is completely in the hands of our audience. An audience that is empowered and made the decision to back us.
And this is the audience that has influenced incidents that has rocked the industry, like the death of Glamour’s print issues. And recently, it was announced that Alexandra Shulman and Lucinda Chambers, names I grew up with as I faithfully collected issues of British Vogue as a teenager, were leaving. Shulman’s statement that Edward Enninful, the new Editor in Chief was hiring “celebrities or fashion personalities with substantial social media followings”, is another reason why these journalists are biting their nails. You can’t blame your readers, so you find a scapegoat.
But how did any of this blame fall on bloggers?
The barrier to entry
Blogging has an incredibly low barrier to entry, it’s something I’ve touched on before. It’s the reason why we aren’t taken very seriously and have to prove our professionalism and commitment. For publishing on the other hand, the opposite has to be said. My friends and I were fully aware that it would be one to two years of internships (ranging from free work to expenses, or if we’re lucky, a year’s contract offering £15k for 35 hours a week) before we might land a permanent job. This was the life that I finally departed from, especially after coming from such an encouraging and nurturing team at Time Out , to then witnessing the chaos of the aforementioned startup magazine.
Those that did choose the internship path, like that girl at Stylist, have struggled and strived to make even a dent in the fashion fortress. The idea that a blogger could be sitting alongside an editor at a high profile event is abhorrent to them. In a way, I can sympathise, being part of the editorial world means that you’re always on, always trying to prove yourself. However, I work a day job and spend a minimum of 21 hours a week on my blog and social media to produce content that people who try to copy me could never achieve. And that’s not arrogance – it’s called no social life, a lot of wine, choosing the right people, prayer and of course, obsession. Haven’t I worked for everything I have too?
It’s because of all the behind the scenes effort and time that we put in and don’t openly advertise, versus our very public brand partnerships and appearances at parties that incites scorn. I feel we are nearly at the core of why journalists apparently hate us but I’m not quite there yet, bear with me.
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They are allowed to ‘hate’ us
Multiple PR companies organise separate events or split the timings for bloggers and press to avoid any clash. It makes sense because the press is allowed to attend events during office hours and most bloggers have day jobs, so their availability tends to be in the evenings. However, the segregation is only allowing the negativity to continue unfounded. And although everyone is entitled to their opinion, cutting and generalising remarks from authority figures such as that controversy at Vogue, are only influencing those who aspire to be like them. The age old stereotype of catty, bitchy women in the fashion industry is ever more accentuated when journalists pen their distaste for bloggers.
There are of course, women that sit in between, like Pandora Sykes and Alex Light (who was the only editor to reply to my email when I was looking for a job in editorial). There are also the forward-thinking, digitally-savvy heads at the Asian magazines who are putting high-profile creatives like Chiara Ferragni or Aimee Song on their covers.
But unfortunately, the majority seems to be women that choose to hate on others that they see as lower, because their superiors have given the green light to do so. For so long have editors been the taste-makers capable of transforming a blogger into a street style star, a 16 year old into a supermodel and a young photographer into one of the world’s greatest artists. With the rise of social media, creatives are given the opportunity to do that for themselves. Just think of Unskilled Worker and Gucci!
To end, I’d like to ask, where are the reasonable women at these magazines, who are aware of this girl on girl bullying, and will stand up and say, “good for them that they’re doing well, even if we didn’t make that happen”?
shot by Anastasija, @anastasija__je
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