“If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable.”—Ezra Klein, Eleven facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States - Washington Post
A Movie Director's Thoughtful Response
My name is Jon Turteltaub. I have directed several movies including both National Treasure films, Phenomenon and Cool Runnings. In spite of how much my mother loves my films, I have had more than my share of criticism in person and in the press for my films over the years. Whenever the negative comments got me down I could usually prop myself up a bit by saying “Who cares? It’s just a movie. Let them hate it. It just makes them petty to put into print such negative thoughts about something so unimportant.” But it wasn’t until reading your blog and interview with Glenna Gordon that I realized how much worse it is to criticize and belittle something so important as bringing peace to a region of Africa, saving the lives of children, and ending rape, murder and torture.
Really? Three young men who fly half way around the world to stop violence against children is something you feel the need to criticize? Three middle-class white guys risking their lives to stop a genocidal madman instead of hanging out at home and playing Angry Birds is something you feel needs to be brought down a notch? If even one person reads your article and decides not to help Invisible Children stop Joseph Kony what good have you done?
The picture shows some white guys holding guns with some black African soldiers… the STORY is that those three guys are inspiring an entire generation of young people to get active and to make positive changes in their world. The STORY is that Joseph Kony’s name is getting out there and that tens of millions of people are watching the video those guys made. The STORY is that even some goofballs from San Diego can change the world using media, the internet, and their hearts.
Not only have I been aware of and supportive of the work Invisible Children does… both as a filmmaker and as someone who has been to Northern Uganda and seen the damage inflicted on these families… but I am also the brother-in-law of another war photographer, Dan Eldon, who was killed while on assignment in Somalia. Very few people have had a greater impact on young people and their desire to make a positive change in the world. No young journalist ever sacrificed so much to shed light on the horrors of famine and war. And in my living room, I have a picture of my late brother-in-law… acting goofy, holding a gun and standing with local soldiers.
Apologizing to Invisible Children for an article created by you and Glenna Gordon is irrelevant. Apologizing to the kids being killed and raped because you thought it might be smart to bring down the people risking their own lives to save them makes more sense. Imagine yourself in Northern Uganda talking to a child who has been mutilated and saying, “Oh, I know about what happened to you. I even wrote a blog criticizing the people who were helping you! Maybe my blog slowed their support and kept aid from getting to you.”
If Invisible Children raises one less dollar, gets one less supporter, gets one more opponent because of your blog then you have to ask yourself what good you are doing in this world. You will tell yourself you’re a journalist who is “just putting it out there”… and at some point you will realize that in journalism and film making there is no such thing as “just putting it out there”. What you do with your blog has meaning to people. Don’t underestimate yourself. And if you want the point of your blog to be the criticism of people fighting tirelessly to make the world an undeniably better place, then in my opinion, you are supporting the exact kind of thing that all of us fighting for peace are struggling with: apathy, cynicism and ignorance.
If you want, criticize National Treasure… parts are too long, some of it is slow, a couple of things are confusing. Got it. That’s fine. But to unfairly and wrongly criticize these young men and their world of supporters for risking everything they have to save the lives of strangers, children and their families, and to give voice to another critic while doing so, is the worst kind of journalistic nonsense and personal irresponsibility. I’m sure you and Glenna remember when you were filled with optimism and enthusiasm at the thought of using your journalistic voice to make the world a better place. That’s where Invisible Children and its supporters live… and we should be proud and support their efforts, their successes and their courage.
“Through all the flip-flops, there has been one consistency in the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: a contempt for the electorate.”—A surprisingly blunt Washington Post editorial on Mitt Romney’s various flip-flops, prevarications and refusals to disclose even basic information about his finances, his campaign and his plans.
Why The Washington Post's new lady blog is wrong for women
Here’s the thing: I will always want more women’s (and feminist) voices in the mainstream media, particularly in politics. There’s an overwhelming byline gender gap and that needs to change. But The Washington Post’s new lady blog, “She the People,” is not a step in the right direction. In fact, I think it’s pretty terrible.*
I’m all for WaPo featuring more women covering politics, but why oh why can’t they just - I don’t know - feature more women covering politics on the main site or pages? As Steph Herold tweeted earlier today, “why do women need a separate blog to write about politics?”
The logo doesn’t exactly help things either. I mean, “she” is underlined with lipstick?
And the tag-line, “the world as women see it” not only reeks of gender essentialism, but promotes the idea that women’s opinions and perspectives aren’t normative, but somehow “other” than real, everyday opinions.
The proliferation of woman-centric sites raises the sorts of questions that keep a feminist editor up at night. If Slate saw a demand for more content about women, why didn’t it start publishing more articles for and by women on its main site? The decision to devote micro-sites to groups that aren’t white men — The Root for black readers, Double X for women readers — implies that Slate recognizes the need for more coverage that caters to women and people of color. But it doesn’t want that coverage mucking up its main product.
…When publishers create separate sites dedicated to women or to black people, they are signaling that they don’t see a need to have their main site serve these people as core readers. They are, in essence, saying, “We want the ad revenue associated with your readership, but we don’t create our homepage with you in mind.”
The site-as-traffic-and-revenue-bait becomes a lot more obvious when you check out the stories She The People chose to highlight:
Uh huh. This is pretty much the same strategy that Slate’s Double X used when they launched - throw some incendiary antifeminist headlines up and get our collective panties in a bunch in an effort to drive traffic via outrage. (Btw, Double X is now the XX Factor and has an equally vomitous tag-line: ”What women really think!”)
I’m glad that The Washington Post wants to appeal more to women. I’m also glad that this blog means that they’re employing more women; that’s great. But there’s a much simpler - and less condescending - way to create a publication that does these things.
You want more women readers? Get more women writers: on the main page, in the opinion section, writing about more than “women’s” issues. Cover more feminist topics.
And for the love of all that is good in the world, drop the fucking lipstick logo.
*Full disclosure/caveat: I’ve written for The Washington Post’s Outlook section in the past and have had pretty great experiences with my editor there