unmediated media

I just noticed that Fashion Television did a piece on fashion blogs for the April 28th show.

If you’ve been reading Final Fashion for a while, you may be aware that deep down, I really want to like Jeanne Beker’s show but my appreciation keeps getting thwarted by bits like this one.

First of all, fashion bloggers are represented by solely by Perez Hilton (ick), despite Perez’ attempts to explain that he is not a fashion blogger at all. You would think that fashion blogging’s best, like The Sartorialist and Susie Bubble would merit a mention, but nothing. (edit: thank you Aurora for pointing out that FT did a feature of the Sartorialist in the same show.) Fashion Television is Canadian-produced, but no effort was made to acknowledge any of the excellent Canadian fashion bloggers. Any of us could have expressed the zeitgeist better than poor old Perez. Did Fashion Television not consider featuring an actual fashion blogger in this piece?

Instead we are treated to some expert commentary from people who appear to have never been near a fashion blog. This clip’s most hilarious moment is Patrick McCarthy of Fairchild who gives us this short soundbite with apparent lack of irony – “…blogging has changed everything. Most of it is gibberish because there’s no real thought to it, because it takes, you know, one second doesn’t have… gives… very few people time to think about anything, so there’s not any real thought going into the blog. It’s just stream of consciousness stuff, most of it worthless.”

Thank goodness for a few choice words from fashion media’s best (Cathy Horyn and Colin McDowell) who both recognize that blogs offer some unique opportunities for those with something to say, and comment on the differences between writing for print and writing for the internet.

I have been thinking about the new/old media divide as events around town (like the upcoming Week of Style) are becoming more inclusive towards local fashion bloggers. Now we share the press lounge with established journalists, broadcasters and media personalities, and no one seems to be able to put their finger on what this change means. Yet. Here are my thoughts.

Blogs are not in direct opposition to magazines, newspapers, radio or television. One cannot pit one media against another – video did not kill the radio star, nor did mp3s. Blogs are just a media like any other, one more format through which human beings absorb information. If blogs someday supersede newspapers, for instance, it won’t be the blogs that are “responsible” for rendering newspapers obsolete. It will be the human beings who are the ones that chose that vehicle for relaying their information needs.

Writers can adapt to digital just as photographers adapt to digital. And bloggers, like many journalists, diarists, and authors, are writers with their own unique format. This is why I believe we are more united by our subject than we are divided by our media. I share much more in common with Jeanne Beker than I do with, say, Perez Hilton.

Where the big difference lies is the mediation of the media. Simply put, bloggers are responsible for their own editing, and the content they publish is at their sole discretion rather than being filtered through the publishing process. With no professional assessing who writes what and who reads what, the responsibility for mediation is shared between the writer and the reader.

This brings the writer and the reader within earshot of eachother. The benefit of blogging is the conversation and the relationships, something no other media offers. Believe me, I write Jeanne Beker every once in a while and she does not reply. I do not want to be Jeanne Beker. She does not have the privilege of being able to have real conversations with her audience.

I don’t care if my audience never gets bigger than 50 people. The fact is the 50 people I write for are awesome people who I admire and whose company I enjoy. I do not have to please an editor who has to worry about pleasing 50 advertisers who worry about pleasing 50 million consumers. I just please myself, and I am lucky enough to have met some wonderful readers who are into the same things.

I have no intention of burying Toronto’s fashion media establishment. I have a lot of respect for the work that they do – they are my peers and colleagues and they are curious about the same things I am. I imagine them as part of my ideal audience, and I write as if they are reading, even if they ignore me.

If you are in the media in Toronto, I invite you to delurk. Come to Brunch. If you plan on doing a story on Fashion Blogging any time in the near future, get the story from the source.

16 thoughts on “unmediated media”

  1. “Where the big difference lies is the mediation of the media. Simply put, bloggers are responsible for their own editing, and the content they publish is at their sole discretion …”

    I have got to be the boss somewhere! *maniacal cackle*

    Okay, but seriously, now that I’ve seen that piece, all I can say is “ugh”. Those people should definitely go to brunch with you.

    It’s as if there is this collision of paradigms somehow and people just don’t know what to do with blogs. For example, and this really doesn’t have anything to do with this post, I recently sent my blog info in to the local newspaper, because they publish a list of blogs. They declined to feature mine, because they are only doing “non-commercial, personal journals”. ???

  2. The best/worst thing about blogs is the hypertext & links. It is great b/c it can give you a context for discussion that print doesn’t give, but on the otherhand, my attention span on the web is about 8 seconds long. I go from one website to another to another to another until I forget what I was reading in the first place!

    It’s true that bloggers – fashion or otherwise – are “unmediated” so far – but advertising dollars are moving online lately… it’s only a matter of time until you get a sponsorship offer, I bet. What would you do if, say Bell mobility offered to sponsor your blog Dan???

  3. Glad you made it to the end of this post Irene =)

    Irene – I’ve already had sponsorship offers. Unless your traffic is gawker-gofugyourself-manolo sized, ad revenue isn’t worth the gunking up a good blog for IMO. Is torontostreetfashion.com supporting your salary on google ads? I doubt it. Advertising is the most unimaginative way to make blogging pay.

    I don’t seek high traffic – I’m after the quality readers only. The contacts and I have gotten directly and indirectly through the blog has brought me better opportunities and more money than adwords ever will.

    As for bell mobility? I hate my stupid bell mobile. It’s clunky, full of random crap I’ll never need, and it costs too much. They can go to hell. I’d rather die than advertise that crap with their rotton beavers.

  4. Hahaha! Yes, your blog is one of the few things that can hold my attention for more than two seconds – possibly because there are no flashing banner ads across the top of your screen to distract me! Who has offered to sponsor you, if I may ask?

  5. No one with an offer worth accepting, obviously.

    I’m sure I’ve got my price just like everyone else but it would have to be a significant offer from the right party. I really like Final Fashion the way it is, and I’m not anxious to alter it for a few bux.

  6. It all comes down to fear. Blog critics don’t understand them because they don’t read them. They may skim thru one or two, but all they see is some force challenging their authority. The fact is I read your blog because I want to hear Your opinion and see Your work. And when I want to hear Anna Wintour’s opinion, I’ll buy Vogue. But Anna Wintour isn’t hand dyeing a wedding dress (which looks great so far! Cheers!)

  7. Digital Leaf – that’s a great point about fear. I think bloggers find the fear surprising because we know that we’re just ordinary people amusing ourselves. It’s so weird to have the insecurities of professionals in the fashion media projected onto us. Stories about the “blog scourge” with all us iconoclasts destroying beliefs and traditions make me laugh, I don’t think most of us have media domination in mind. We’re just doing our thing =D

    One of the false lines in the FT piece was “now anyone can be a fashion expert” and I don’t think the mantle of expertise is any more available now than it ever was. Most bloggers would scoff at being called experts. It takes a lot of study and practice and demonstration of knowledge to become an expert even in the blogosphere. We have our credible voices and our hacks just like any other media. Maybe more hacks because of the low barrier to entry. I think our best will be on par with the Horyns and the McDowells given a decade or two.

    Irene – I’m not being mysterious, I just don’t think it is interesting. Glam and Coutorture both offered packages, and the odd indie contacts me about buying some pixels on my page, and I say no.

  8. I think it’s painfully obvious that Perez Hilton is not a fashion blogger. Anti-kudos to Beker.

    P.S.: I’m in T.O. on the 26th, one day before brunch! 🙁 Though that saddens me, perhaps we could get together?

  9. Interesting how the FT piece seems to imply that blogs thoughtless when the FT piece itself obviously did very little research on fashion blogs or even blogs themselves. I think see the difference between new media and old media – old media seems to be resting on its so-called laurels whereas new media (including us bloggers) prove ourselves to be passionate about the subjects on which we write so that we can get taken seriously.

    All I can say to FT is: why bother doing a piece when you clearly don’t know (or really care!) what you’re talking about? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a blogger writing about a subject that he or she has little interest in or knowledge about.

    And for the record: I love Jeanne Beker and FT, but that makes me even more disappointed in them. I didn’t get any new information from that piece – just that blogging puts more pressure on print media sometimes so that they’re starting their own blogs. This certainly isn’t anything new and is hardly newsworthy.

  10. Henna – I’m glad you caught that irony. Television is notorious for editing things out of context, inflating the drama of any story, and relying on generalities more than any other media, but I generalize.

    This piece was television calling blogs a media that lacks constructive criticism. *ahem*

    Isabel, that would make my day if you visited me when you come to town! I’ll see you in facebook kid =)

  11. Kudos to that Henna! That guy from Fairchild Publications, Patrick McCarthy is super negative in this piece! He obviously has not read Kathleen Fasnella or Final Fashion or La Coquette or Diane Pernet – but it looks like Horyn and McDowell have a little more vision for the future than McCarthy does…

  12. Its too bad you guys only managed to catch that brief snippet of the show that was posted on the internet.

    FT actually did an amazing & extensive segment on The Sartorialist to accompany that clip.

  13. Thank you Aurora for pointing that out, I should have seen that on the website when I checked, it was right there. I edited your correction into the post. Maybe we can find a a video of that bit too.

  14. Sartorialist is awesome and I really like the FT interview with him – but I think that one of the (if not THE ONLY) reasons that FT’s eye was drawn to him is that he also snaps for Style.com now and that’s pretty mainstream, old media (i.e. Conde Naste publications). Anyway, you can watch the bit for yourself here:

    The Sartorialist on Fashion Television

  15. I like the FT interview too. They let the Sartorialist speak for himself and it’s fun to watch him at work. Thanks for posting the link Henna, I edited it into hypertext for us =)

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