Journalists describe challenges of feminist blogging

Three journalists discussed the world of feminist blogging during a symposium on Jan. 29, sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

Before a packed room of students and members of the New Haven community, Lori Adelman (Feministing.com), Akiba Solomon (colorlines.com), and Sarah Mirk (Bitch Media) offered their perspective on striking a balance as writers, activists, and feminists.

 “I didn’t know I was a feminist until people told me I was a feminist,” Solomon explained. Solomon entered the feminist blogosphere as a journalist and considers her published work to be a sort of activism. “I consider myself a journalist first and foremost. … I’m a feminist who does journalism.”

For Adelman, who works at Planned Parenthood, blogging is yet another outlet for activism. “We need a new word, you know, journo-activist, or something,” she said.

While all three journalists described the many benefits of having online feminist outlets and the ways in which blogs create communities of readers who want to share their beliefs, they also noted the particular challenges of the blogosphere.

After dealing with a constant onslaught of racist and sexist comments in the comments section of her website, for instance, Adelman began monitoring comments before posting them on her blog. Her aim was to achieve “an accountable space … you won’t see abject bigotry, which became more important in terms of the overall brand and look of the site,” Adelman noted.

“The way the blogosphere is set up is really all about trust, you want to trust the person that’s writing … you want the words they save to have a reflection on your reality,” she added. Solomon and Mirk said they also struggle with their comments sections, and underscored the importance of ensuring that they be outlets for dialogue and safe communication.

While all three journalists spoke extensively on the positive experiences they have had blogging, they also noted the Internet has serious shortcomings and room for improvement.

“People who don’t have access to high-speed Internet are the voices absent from the Internet,” Solomon explained. As blogging matures as a media outlet, she said, she hopes that some of these issues can be addressed, noting, “There’s class stratification in journalism and writing in general.”

Emily Ullman is a member of the Yale College Class of 2014.

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