Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 2, 2004
BLOG: One For The Ladies

Drezner and Michele discuss the relative paucity of female bloggers among the tippity-top of the A-List of bloggers who influence the media. Michele asks:

Lots of stuff going on today about women in the blogosphere. Are females underrepresented? Has Wonkette become the media's official spokesperson for the female portion of the blogosphere? Are we destined to just be cute and adorable playthings? Or is the whole idea of sexism in blogs just a manufactured tale thought up by people who just aren't making the time to find blogs that aren't already on their small links list?

Well, looking over my own blogroll - which, given the concentration of baseball blogs, is bound to be male-dominated - I see five female-authored blogs (Michele, Bookworm, Erin O'Connor, Meryl Yourish, and Jane Galt), plus NRO's Corner, which is male-dominated but moderated by Kathryn Jean Lopez, one of the most active contributors to the group, and The Command Post, at which Michele is one of the ringleaders. Other female bloggers I've linked to - only sporadically - would include Dana at Note-It Posts, law blogger Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage, Baldilocks, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, and, of course, Wonkette. Not nothing, but clearly a minority.

Here's the thing: at the dawn of blogilization (late 01-early 02), the leading blogs were overwhelmingly white, male, bespectacled, between 30 and 50, pro-war, centrist/libertarian on domestic issues, and dominated by academics and professional writers, especially those with ties to the New Republic (Reynolds, Sullivan, Lileks, Kaus, Volokh, Marshall, Goldberg, den Beste, Welch, Jarvis, C. Johnson . . . each of them hits several if not all of these points). The image stuck, and those guys ascended to a sort of firmament.

While people have to be pretty dim to ignore the likes of Michele, Jane Galt, and Yourish, Wonkette is indeed one of the few female bloggers who has the paid position, journalistic background, etc. to get instant credibility with the media - other female bloggers tend to be civilians, as it were, rather than journalists or academics (Merritt may be something of an exception, as a sometime TV pundit).

You see, in the blogosphere, when it comes to influencing the media, there are still two classes of bloggers: the credentialed in-crowd and the civilians. Bloggers who are professional journalists are in the in-crowd, however much they may (like Sullivan) maintain a contrarian pose that costs them with employers inside journalism. Bloggers who are academics get the entree as well; besides having jobs that permit them to blog at length during business hours, journalists respect academics. Look at how Drezner slid easily into a column at The New Republic. (If you're young enough, like Matt Yglesias, you can write your way into the in-crowd. If you're old enough to have a job and a mortgage, you're out of luck).

My conclusion here: Michele is among the best and brightest of the "civilian" bloggers. And we ought to be a happy bunch, since we've come a long way from the days when civilians had no hope of getting published. But except for Wonkette, few female bloggers are part of that in crowd. The fault isn't the blogs themselves; it's the who-you-know nature of journalism.

(It may also be that fewer women are interested in writing political blogs; Yglesias explains the gender gap as it pertains to men vs. women following politics).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:55 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Your statement: "Here's the thing: at the dawn of blogilization (late 01-early 02), the leading blogs were overwhelmingly white, male, bespectacled, between 30 and 50, pro-war, centrist/libertarian on domestic issues, and dominated by academics and professional writers"

is based on a false premise. Read Rebecca Blood's book and her essay[1] on the history of weblogs. Your assumption that "the dawn" was in '01-02 is wrong. The earliest webloggers (even political webloggers) were not as you describe and were writing well before 2000, even.

Don't rewrite history.

[1]http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html

Posted by: Medley at June 3, 2004 12:16 AM

That's all well and good, but again, I'm not talking about the primordial blogs so much as the blogs that became prominent when the blogosphere was gaining critical mass. Kaus, Sullivan and Marshall, with their media connections, drove that process in 2000-01, and the others caught on about a year later, after September 11. Is that unfair to the little-read pioneers of the form? Of course.

I've often argued that Bill Simmons was one of the first real bloggers to hit it big, and Bill closed up shop in May of 2001 after 5 years of running his site.

Posted by: The Crank at June 3, 2004 12:40 AM
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