Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

NEDA: Eating Disorder Lit, Lifetime Movies, the DSM-V, ‘Holy Anorexia’ and Tumblr v. Pro-Ana Blogs (@ Blisstree)

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I didn’t know what image to use for this post, so here is a picture of me and an old friend not having eating disorders, eating free ice cream from Friendly’s on a summer day.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano at ‘the Beheld’ wrote some very nice things about our National Eating Disorder Awareness week coverage at Blisstree, the women’s health & wellness site where I write.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown examines the real fallout from eating disorder literature. I’m thrilled to see someone taking a sharp view on this—my own experience with ED lit mirrors Elizabeth’s, varying between using such books as dirty little guides to tips and tricks, and using them as actual support. In fact, I once pitched a piece about this to a teen mag and it was flatly shot down with, “There is no way in hell we can run a piece like that.” But Blisstree can! Yay Internet! (Actually, Blisstree overall seems to be offering smart content for NEDA week, sharing the real story behind sensationalist recovery tales and featuring an interview with Carrie Arnold, one of the best ED writers around.)

Yay Internet!, indeed. I’ve actually been very happy this week with the way we’ve been covering eating disorders. ED stories so often fall into sensationalism, melodrama or triteness. And I think we’ve done pretty well at avoiding that. In addition to the stories Autumn mentioned, we’ve posted:

• A non-sensationalist defense of pro-ana communities.

• A gallery of the best/most absurd Lifetime movies about eating disorders.

• A guide to proposed eating disorder changes in the DSM-V.

• A history of eating disorders, including “holy anorexia, fasting girls (like Mollie Fancher, the ‘Brooklyn Enigma’) and wasting diseases blamed on wandering uteruses.”

• A long, lovely and honest Q&A with Angela Liddon, of Oh She Glows.

• And a piece about how Tumblr plans to start restricting pro-ana and other ‘self harm’ blogs.

Written by Elizabeth

March 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm

How I learned to stop worrying and love the zeitgeist

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Conor calls for ‘slow journalism’ over at The American Scene:

I think I saw something about someone wanting to start a Slow Journalism movement. I am on board. Or if no one said that, then I’m doing so now. We’ll wait somewhat longer to write up news and analysis, worry less about news pegs, blog about worthwhile books that were published four years ago and articles that appeared on the Web five months ago, or seven years ago. We’ll lose the morning, every morning, but we’ll win the week. Or the month.

He’s responding to Dave Weigel’s intro over at his new Slate blog, in which Weigel grapples with the speed of the political news cycle In This Day & Age (I do dig Dave’s elevator pitch: So: Who’s running the country, who wants to take it away from them, and what are they all doing wrong? Let’s find out.) Conor says he pays no mind to who publishes first; he gets his news from friends and those established voices he trusts:

The whole of Red State or Big Government could be writing about a story before anyone else, but having concluded that I don’t know when I can trust them, and it isn’t worth the time and effort to fact check their work before writing about it, I won’t see the story until Dave Weigel or Chris Beam or Tim Carney or Mark Hemingway or some other person whose work I follow gets to it.

And I really don’t care if it’s a day later.

It sounds a bit like a vote for “epistemic closure” (am I using that phrase right, boys? I willfully ignored that whole debate; Slow-Journo street cred, score 1 me …?), but I more or less agree. It fits the theory that the only currency journalists have In This Day & Age (god, I love that phrase; all the moral panic it breathlessly implies!) is their name, and they can contract that name, that voice, out to different publications, different sites, but they better maintain control of it, because it’s really their only card. Publications have been and will continue to rely on and invest in recognizable “voices” or “brands” rather than “the news,” per se. It’s why, in attempting reinvention, AOL snapped up name-brand political writers; or why it perplexes me that in Atlantic.com’s site revamp, it reorganized content away from a voice/blogger-centric layout (not that I doubt it had very good secret reasons).

And this is all reminding me of Clay Shirky’s latest book, Cognitive Surplus, which I am reading (slowly) right now. This is my favorite point so far:

The old choice between one-way public media (like books and movies) and two-way private media (like the phone) has now expanded to include a third option: two-way media that operates on a scale from private to public. Conversations among groups can now be carried out in the same media environments as broadcasts. This new option bridges the two older options of broadcast and communications media. All media can now slide from one to the other. An e-mail conversation can be published by its participants. An essay intended for public consumption can anchor a private argument, parts of which later become public. We move from public to private and back again in ways that weren’t possible in an era when public and private media, like the radio and the telephone, used different devices and different networks.

The point he makes is so simple, but it struck me, still; that is the root of so much of what we talk about when we talk about journalism, the Internet, writers, authors, amateurs, user-generated content, social media, social networks, email privacy, influencers, news … Everything (Dave Weigel’s Journolist emails; your facebook profile; a photo a girl from third grade found in her parents’ attic, the electronic love letters you really meant to keep between you and your intended, the rough cut of the song you send a few folks to preview) is public media. Which is why it makes sense that, amid this, you know, little social shift wherein a good portion of the world’s conversation became public media, trustworthiness is one of the few viable, remaining currencies.

Or something like that.

Anyway, Conor, count me in! Because I’d like to write about Georges Simenon mysteries and what sense, if any, can be made of Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. I want to hear your and everyone’s thoughts on this 2001 Nerve essay, and not feel silly blogging about this New York Magazine article on soldiers and YouTube even though it’s over 2 weeks old. Because, I tell ya, getting out of DC helped give me a little perspective. It can be paralyzing when your drinking buddies are among some of the most well-known political or cultural bloggers. It can make you feel like there’s no point in writing a thing if you didn’t get there first, or don’t have a perfectly unique take.

Now Brooklyn provides its own kind of weird (everything you and/or your friends do ends up a sort of product that is very palatable for certain media types, I guess, but then again, sometimes you ask for it). But I don’t feel as paralyzed by the news cycle here. Sometimes, the whole business seems like a cross between a research experiment I might have set up in grad school (as it was, my thesis tried to discover some sort of ideological metamorphosis in U.S. celebrity-tabloid coverage based on our changing political & cultural atmosphere between 1996 and 2006. um, yeah) and a private game being played solely by those with the power, or misfortune, to believe in it. Or worse, to think they don’t.

But maybe that’s just me.

Written by Elizabeth

August 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hiatus

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I’m on hiatus from The Internet. Of sorts.

Hiatus from this blog, at least. I am working on:

1) Creative writing

2) Secret blogging ventures

Which means exciting or terrible things will be afoot soon.

P.S. I was also recently out of the country for two weeks. I promise heartwarming tales about Sicily and cold, scary tales about London will soon be told.

Written by Elizabeth

April 9, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Asides, Memo

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R.S. McCain Chastises Us Whippersnappers …

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… and rightly so, I think. The man may, overall, be marginally despicable, but he makes some good points in the comments to this League of Ordinary Gentleman post:

When I was your age . . .If you’re under 26, I was working as a nightclub DJ or driving a forklift or playing in rock-and-roll bands. At 26, I got a $4.50-an-hour job as a staff writer for a tiny weekly tabloid in Austell, Ga. After another 18 months of job changes, in fall 1987, I landed a job as sports editor of a twice-weekly paper in Calhoun, Ga. By June 1989, I was 29 years old, married, with a newborn daughter.McCain

So I was closing in on 30 and considered myself doing well to make $300 a week covering prep sports in North Georgia. I was 38 years old when I was hired in November 1997 by The Washington Times.

Now, try to see all this from my perspective, will you? I don’t give a hoot in hell what your SAT Verbal scores were, some of you youngersters appear mighty doggone ridiculous trying to run before you’ve even crawled. As someone even more grizzled than myself said in an email yesterday, self-publishing software has made it very easy to think of yourself as a writer.

Prior to the widespread availability of the Internet (mid-1990s), your choices at age 23 would have been (a) take an entry-level staff gig at a newspaper/magazine, or (b) dwell in that sleazy semi-pro twilight of doing record reviews for crappy weekly “alternative” tabloid or maybe Xeroxing your own crappy “zine.”

Well, hello, WordPress and now, without benefit of filling out an application or sending “over-the-transom” submissions to publications, you get that short feedback loop: Megan McArdle linked me! or: Did you see my exchange with Larison?

Think, dear boys, how ludicrously vain you appear to a 49-year-old who worked his way up through the trenches of local straight journalism to arrive in Washington at age 38. In short, I am insanely jealous to think what might have been if, when I was a senior in college, it might have been possible so much as to send an e-mail to a magazine editor.

So I see you young ‘uns with these infinite opportunities, and doing so damned little with them, and watching you fritter away your time makes me angry at the idiotic waste of it all.

E.D. Kain mocks:

Did you know, back in my day before the printing press we had to shout our thoughts from atop a large boulder! Now you damned vainglorious youngsters can actually participate in the conversation! And you don’t even have to walk seven miles through the snow to do it… You damn kids should be working in, er, journalism with all those great journalism jobs being created each year….because 2009 is just exactly the same as previous pre-internet decades when people actually still read newspapers.

While that’s some mighty fine snarking there (and I—unlike Sonny Bunch and others in the pissing contest discussion that spawned the post on which McCain was commenting—am a fan of well-used snark), I don’t think McCain was suggesting that all bloggers/young writers should have to go pay their dues for five years at the Lima Daily News or something. Rather, I think he was making a good-faith effort to explain the complicated relationship he has to watching today’s young writers or would-be writers and the ridiculous advantages we have over previous bright young things (and disadvantages, as E.D. mentions); the ways we capitalize on them and the ways we squander them; and the sense of ‘what if’ that must pervade many in the older generation of writers who came about things a different way.

By the by, I’m sure we are all aware that there are plenty of young journalists who still get their starts at small, daily papers (hey, I went through, uh, a year of journalism boot camp at a daily Ohio paper) and work their ways up there the old fashioned way (I sometimes think I should have stayed longer. These are (and I mean this neutrally) just entirely different creatures than the majority of species Blogger.

Written by Elizabeth

February 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Oh, no! …

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… One of my favorite DC local-stuff bloggers (okay, the only DC local-stuff blogger I read—but there’s a reason for that), Marissa at The Anti DC, was fired from her job for blogging. That still happens?

Written by Elizabeth

January 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Asides

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LadyBlog & Culture11

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So I mentioned last week that I’m part of the cabal of LadyBloggers over at Culture11. This next part feels a little silly explaining, because everyone I know in DC seems to be writing for Culture11 in some way or other, but I realize some people read this who aren’t the 30 people I know in DC. So …

Culture11 is a new online magazine—it’s still in Beta right now—that was/is aiming, at least theoretically, to be like Slate or Salon but with a slightly right-of-center bent. A few months ago it began snapping up various talented libertarian-ish writers, including three of my favorites: Peter Suderman (C11’s culture editor), James Poulos (C11’s politics editor) and Conor Friedersdorf (C11’s features editor). The whole endeavor seemed radically promising. Where it will go still remains to be seen, obviously—right now, the amount of content is a little light and every now and then article choices just seem weird —but it is still in beta and I think it’s off to a good start.

And now, this brings us to LadyBlog. Please understand that everything I say from here on out should not be construed as criticisms of Jillian Bandes, C11’s assistant editor and the Madam of LadyBlog, if you will (who was nice enough to let me be a part of this project despite the sum of my conservative credentials being “not Democrat,” and who handpicked a very interesting slew of diverse women bloggers and is, in these early stages, currently taking a generously laissez faire attitude towards what we write). Nor of the very smart, very funny women—Phoebe Maltz, Amber Bryer-Wotte, Jillian, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Dara Lind, Nicola Karras, Penny Larkin, Cheryl Miller, to name a few—writing on LadyBlog.

But let me just say that LadyBlog is a weird, weird place. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Elizabeth

September 23, 2008 at 5:47 pm