Martha Stewart Likes Bloggers. I Have Proof.

October 17, 2013

Martha Stewart at Alt Summit 2013-1

By Gabrielle. Images from Alt Summit NYC by Justin Hackworth.

I just received an email from Martha Stewart. Me, and every website on the MSLO mailing list. I didn’t understand it, and determined that in my tourist haze, I must have missed some bit of news. So I started searching, and found out there is an interview with Martha Stewart that isn’t sunshine and daisies about bloggers. I’m not going to seek out the interview. I’m not going to watch or listen to it. Not because I think it didn’t happen, and not because I’m in denial.

Martha Stewart at Alt Summit 2013-2

It’s just that actions speak louder than words. And Martha Stewart, along with the entire MSLO staff, has shown in constant outreach how much they support bloggers and the relatively new field of blogging and social media. In fact, if we had to go to court to prove whether or not Martha Stewart liked bloggers, we would have mountains of evidence that she does, and not much to prove otherwise.

Martha Stewart at Alt Summit 2013-3

- Martha Stewart was one of the first people in the publishing space to join in with blogging and social media instead of resisting it and fighting against it. There are actually very few heads of big brands that personally keep up a blog and are active on social media. Martha has been a leader for established brands on how to adopt new technologies gracefully, and how to work with bloggers instead of compete against them.

- I was told by a representative at Pinterest that images from marthastewart.com are the most pinned overall. Yes, that benefits MSLO and drives traffic to their site. But it’s also hugely beneficial to pinners everywhere, because pinning great photos is the number one way to grow your Pinterest followers, and MSLO provides an endless stream of excellent, highly pinnable photos that they freely share. Even if you’re not trying to grow your followers, there’s a good chance you’ve been inspired by and pinned MSLO content.

- The MSLO team has collaborated with bloggers from the beginning of blogging — supplying craft products, hosting parties for bloggers, and making their online content available for free. How do I know this? I’ve been the recipient of Martha Stewart craft supplies, I’ve been invited to parties and events at MSLO headquarters (even as a new blogger — which led to an article in the NY Daily News), and I’ve used content from MarthaStewart.com many times on Design Mom, at no cost to me.

- MSLO has promoted bloggers by hiring bloggers, like Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte, to create content for the pages of their magazines and content for their online platforms, and making sure the bloggers receive the credit for their work.

- MSLO has promoted bloggers by writing about them and their websites. For example, see the quote in Joanna Goddard’s press section.

- MSLO has promoted bloggers by having them as guests on the Martha Stewart media properties — TV shows, radio shows, webcasts, online video, etc. — I was in an episode of Everyday Food last summer.

- MSLO has also promoted bloggers with authentic social media practices — like keeping a blogroll on their site, and by interacting with bloggers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Since the MSLO entities have such large followings on social media sites, interacting with bloggers sends attention to the work of those bloggers on a big scale.

- This month marks the second annual American Made event organized by MSLO. This is a massive event that shines wonderful light on small shops and makers — the majority of which are also bloggers and etsy shop owners who grow their businesses through social media.

- MSLO hosted Alt Summit, the conference for design and lifestyle bloggers, twice — inviting attendees to spend the day at the MSLO headquarters. Both years, the MSLO team went all out, decorating the space, throwing parties, giving tours, teaching crafts, speaking on panels and genuinely welcoming the bloggers and attendees.

- During Alt Summit, employees and editors — even the top editors  — at MSLO interacted with the bloggers in attendance as peers, trading tips and looking for ways to work together.

- During Alt Summit, Martha Stewart, even though she had a full schedule, made time to address attendees and discuss her love of blogging and the blogging community. Related, she was the keynote speaker at BlogHer last year.

There is no doubt in my mind that Martha Stewart and MSLO are fully supportive of bloggers. I suppose it would take a lot of years of interactions showing otherwise to convince me the opposite is true. And what about the interview? Bad day? Miscommunication? Frustration? Who knows. I’m not worried about it. Her actions show me she likes bloggers just fine.

Am I personal friend of Martha Stewart? No, just a long-time fan. I have met her, and even been interviewed by her on her radio show. But I expect she would have no idea who I was if I was standing in front of her — the same day I had the pleasure of meeting her, she also met hundreds of other bloggers. : )

But as I said, I’m a fan. Of Martha Stewart the person. Of Martha Stewart the brand. I’ve learned countless things from the pages of Martha Stewart Living and been inspired a thousand times.

I’ve been a fan since I studied to be a graphic designer almost 2 decades ago. In my design classes, her brand new magazine and newly launched product line packaging were held up as a gold standard in graphic design. They still are.

And I’m still a fan.

——

Full disclosure: I have worked with MSLO many times over the last 7 years of Design Mom. And as I mentioned, Alt Summit, which I am a founder and owner of, has been held at the MSLO headquarters, twice. But neither Design Mom nor Alt Summit is currently under any contracts with MSLO. I just want to make clear I have no stake in this, and that I get no benefit from publishing this. It is simply my honest opinion, and I believe the responses to Martha Stewart’s interview could use some balance.

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jane B. October 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I think the things you’ve mentioned prove that people in Martha’s organization like bloggers, recognize their strategic business value, and have been sure to associate MSLO with bloggers. But those things don’t necessarily represent HER opinion.

It’s an interesting discussion. And as we’ve seen from her past, MSLO will go on despite any perceived mistakes Martha may make.

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2 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I can see what you mean, and I understand that’s a conclusion that could be reached, but I just can’t believe Martha would spend time speaking to bloggers — as a group and as individuals — if she doesn’t respect them. She doesn’t have time to waste. In the same vein, I don’t think she would ever allow content in the pages of her magazines that she didn’t like.

She’s been so consistent and generous in her support, that one odd interview does little to sway my opinion. Though obviously, it has upset many people, and possibly I’m in the minority.

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3 Cathy S October 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

We’ll said! I have enjoyed and benefited from all of Martha Stewarts many excellent ventures. A devotion to quality and beauty has always been her standard. I am a huge fan. When I had my own business I bought and read her book Martha Rules…amazing wisdom and insight. She is a Phenom. History will show she did more to develope and enlighten, educate and inform, honor and elevate the homemaker than anyone else in the two centuries her life has encompassed.

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4 Janey October 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Ermmm… as much as I appreciate some the valid, thoughtful, and well articulate points here, I don’t think you get why folks like me are miffed. Nobody questions that Martha Stewart The Brand likes bloggers – it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Problem is, Martha Stewart The Person said something snide and dismissive about a group of people who, 1. Have made her a lot of money over the years, and 2. Are disappointed that someone we looked up to would be so arrogant when it comes to the qualifications of being a blogger. And honestly, just her tone – the way she said “blogger” – like it’s a bad thing or something? Anyway…

Again, your point is well taken. No tantrums over here. It’s all just disappointing. Feels like someone pulled the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz…and she’s not such a wizard after all.

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5 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I get that people are miffed, I get miffed at stuff I read online all the time, every body does. But my instinct continues to be wanting to cut Martha Stewart some slack. This wasn’t a prepared statement with an intention to be upsetting, it was an off the cuff remark based on who knows what — an irritating run in at the American Made event? Some bad news delivered earlier in the day? Even if she really felt that way at the moment, she doesn’t act that way.

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6 Diane October 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Bravo! Well written and perfect! I value Martha and her brand for being incredibly detail-oriented, organized, to the point of being “perfect” in all the right ways. I am creative, crafty, detail oriented, love to entertain and anytime someone refers to me as being “martha like” I see it as the ultimate compliment.
Thanks for writing this!

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7 rachael {imagine gnats} October 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

actions speak louder than soundbytes. or we should hope so, anyway. thanks for sharing your perspective :)

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8 Lisa October 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Well done! I am glad that someone can stand up for their belief instead of having to look up said negative interview. For all we know, it could have been the interviewer wanting to put negative light on her. I have definitely appreciated her talent over the years (I grew up with it!) and I’m always in awe when you feature one of her crafts or I happen to pick up her magazine. I sometimes still miss watching her show with my mom. It would be my dream to work with her on a project (maybe someday!). xo

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9 Debra Norton October 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Well said! I have been a fan of Martha since the launch of her magazine. It has been an inspiration to me over and over.

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10 Elisabeth October 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm

You should watch the interview. The clip I saw was only about 2 minutes long, and other than being a sweeping generalization, there’s really nothing objectionable about it. She states that bloggers are not “experts”, which of course is true about the vast majority of bloggers . So what? If you’re an expert and a blogger, you know it and shouldn’t take Martha’s criticism to heart.

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11 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm

“If you’re an expert and a blogger, you know it and shouldn’t take Martha’s criticism to heart.”

That’s where I landed when I heard about the quote. Even if I received a personal letter from Martha Stewart, directly to me specifically, telling me I wasn’t a good blogger, I would be surprised, but then I would move on. I know who I am and what I do and what I’m good at.

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12 Jordan October 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

I think what Elisabeth said is right on. At first I thought you should watch the clip, but I don’t know that it really matters. It wouldn’t change your post at all. If anything, the clip would make the transcribed quotes more understandable. It is true that historically “bloggers” as a sweeping generalization are not the professionals. You can certainly find recipes and tutorials that are not tested and refined. There is no filter to the internet. However, it is the consumer who determines the professional, and that is true for blogging, film, publishing, EVERYTHING really. The fact is, that every category has those who are professional and those who are not. The grassroots nature of blogging is what has contributed so much to its popularity. Her statement is really only offensive if someone sees themselves threatened by it. On the other side of her statement is the fact that there are recipes, ideas, projects, and CAREERS that have taken off due to blogging, making them professional. Martha Stewart herself relies on the receptivity of her work by a large audience to validate what she does. I think it is immature to draw up a line with lifestyle bloggers on one side and Martha Stewart on the other. It is hopefully more fluid a relationship. She is not the standard of worth for anyone, to make her so, is uncharitable, especially to her.

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13 Tiffany | Peanut Blossom October 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hearing Martha at BlogHer ’12 was one of the highlights of my professional career. I respect her as a business woman and as a brilliant brander.

I watched the video because I refused to believe the quotes were true and assumed that they were taken completely out of context. I was very disappointed in her tone. An otherwise upbeat interview about tastemakers turned condescending the moment she brought up bloggers. Her words were definitely not in line with her actions. It’s truly unfortunate she made this slip but she is only human.

I had already decided this wouldn’t keep me from enjoying all things MSLO but it was nice to see such a well thought out defense of a brand I love so much and a woman who still offers much for us to learn from–both her ups and her downs.

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14 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:21 pm

“but she is only human”

Maybe feeling so mentally challenged lately is what is pushing me to give Martha Stewart some slack, but I thought the same thing. And I keep thinking of all the things I’ve said that didn’t communicate as clearly or eloquently as I’d hoped.

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15 Kim - The TomKat Studio October 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Thank you Gabby, for reminding me of all of the positive things that Martha has done for and with bloggers. I was very emotional after seeing the interview yesterday and wrote a post about how with one quick comment, she broke my heart. The response to my blog post and social media posts has been overwhelmingly supportive and I’m so glad I shared my feelings. I just hope that Martha understands how much we all look up to her and how much it hurt to hear her condescending tone as she talked about bloggers.

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16 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Hi Kim! Nice to see your smiling face. I look forward to reading your post.

Having watched her in person interviewing entrepreneurs and bloggers with both large and small audiences, it’s so clear to me how genuinely interested she is in this whole community and social media phenomenon.

I know how awful it feels awful to be condescended to. I hate that anyone had to feel that from someone they looked up to. I hope anyone feeling bruised by the interview can view it as a small bump in what has been a smooth road for many years.

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17 Deborah October 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Hmmmm, I was a little surprised when I saw the interview, and I think her team is doing a whole lot of damage control. I’m seeing a lot of posts defending MS and what she said in the interview from bloggers that are used by her brand to sell her products. Which makes me uneasy to be honest, I think honesty is one of the things that bloggers get right so much of the time. I don’t know how I feel about a bunch of blogs coming to her defense at coincidentally the same moment when I know her PR team is probably scrambling to lessen the blow from her snafu. Which I think is what it was. An oops moment where she was probably speaking more truth than not, but to the wrong person at the wrong time. Does this discount her brand or her empire or her talent or business savvy self or past support for bloggers? No. But it does make me think twice I have to admit, and it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth…

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18 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I think you’re definitely not alone in having a bad taste in your mouth after seeing the interview.

Hey, if you have a second, I’d love some links to other posts defending Martha Stewart. I haven’t seen any at all, which was why I felt so strongly about sharing my thoughts.

As for her PR team, outside of the email I mentioned in the first line of my post, I haven’t seen any public or private response, though I imagine they’re following the conversation wherever it’s popping up.

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19 Rebecca Propes October 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Jenn from HWTM wrote a great post you can see here (; BTW…LOVED your post too!! Well put and thanks for sharing!!
http://blog.hwtm.com/2013/10/martha-stewart-blogger-comment/

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20 Deborah October 17, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I read this one
http://thealisonshow.com/2013/10/martha-stewart-as-usual-is-right.html
And then yours back to back, I’ll have to go back through my feedly of read articles to find more. I’m glad you posted about this though, and that you are standing up for what you believe she truly supports, and I do hope you are right when all is said and done. The hard part of being a celebrity is once you say something you can’t unsay it.

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21 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Thanks for the links!

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22 Vicki Winters October 17, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Believe it, Design Mom. Watch the video. It sounds like you have been drinking the “COOL AID” as they say.

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23 Design Mom October 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Hi Vicki. I don’t know if you had a chance to read my post, but I mention that I do believe it. Actually I think I say, “it’s not that I don’t believe it”. Which may unintentionally sound confusing, but my meaning was that I do believe it.

If I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, I’ve had a glass in hand for almost 20 years. One remark in one interview isn’t going to drain my cup.

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24 Brimful October 18, 2013 at 12:23 am

Great article Gabrielle…I so respect your gracious replies to people that disagree with you. You are so classy!

Martha had a bad day…we all do! Anyone who can bounce back and remake her image like Martha has done is one courageous woman in my opinion.

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25 Ania @ The New Diplomat's Wife October 18, 2013 at 1:13 am

I actually left a similar comment on the Alison Show since I think she did a great job on the rebuttal, but I actually don’t think that there is anything wrong with what Martha said. To much degree it’s true, just delivered a little more solidly than we are used to hearing in the blogging community. And as with any clip there is always an issue of context and of course Bloomberg is going to release the clip that sparks the most conversation because a conversation that starts with Bloomberg is good for Bloomberg. That’s just business sense. But in any case, as we heard from Martha and Pilar and the others at MSLO, there is indeed a difference between producing a story for print versus producing a story for web, and the question isn’t which is better. Experts bring all the things that Martha mentinoed to the table, while bloggers who have the advantage of nimbleness, creative interpretation, practical application and cost efficiency and they bring something all together different. And as long as both sides keep the quality bar high and bring their a-game to the table, there will always be room for both, as well as room for media we haven’t even thought of yet.

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26 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

I liked Alison’s post a lot. And I agree with your thoughts about keeping the quality bar high and how there’s room for everybody. But I wonder if it will play out differently.

I see several blogs becoming more like magazines, with a staff of several people working on a project/post in the same team-effort way a traditional magazine might approach it — but without the 3 month lead time, and with the nimbleness you mention. And I think there’s no question that many print magazines are fading away. The relaunch of Domino as a quarterly instead of a monthly reminded me that even if a print magazine creates high-quality content, it can have a hard time staying afloat financially.

I imagine that as print magazines fade away, and some top tier blogs become more magazine like, that other blogs — the kind run by one person instead of a team — will offer that not-too-glossy-so-it-feels-totally-in-my-reach spirit that bloggers do so well.

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27 Ann October 18, 2013 at 10:19 am

Excellent wording.

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28 hanna October 18, 2013 at 1:52 am

To be honest: I don´t see what people are upset about. I am personally not a great fan of Martha as a person (I find her a little fake and not very warm) and half of the things I see in her magazines do not appeal to my taste (I am German, so obviously this may be a cultural thing). I still think she is a brillant business woman and I really respect her for building her brand the way she did.

I do not think she was saying anything rude, mean or bad about bloggers. She was saying that they are no experts. She was saying that recipes are posted that were possible not really tried before or that were copied from somewhere. I totally agree with her.

Yes, there is a percentage of bloggers (10%?) that have very very high standards and do a brillant and professional job every day producing content that could be printed in a glossy magazine any time. And there are many other blogs with lower standards, which does not neccessarily make these blogs less interesting or appealing. Both varieties are fine for me. I do not expect a blog to have the quality of a MS-publication or a copy of Vogue.

What struck me much more is that she named Ralph Lauren and Macy as leading taste making brands. RL is always a safe bet, his style is timeless and he never fails to stay true to himself. But there is zero creativity or innovation there. And that she names Amazon as an amazing company really upset me. Anyone looking behind that company knows how badly workers are treated. Here in Germany (and in Scandinavia) Amazon has a bad image. Again, this may be a cultural thing!

Gabriele, THANKS for being brave enough to touch a subject that is controversal. I am soooo annoyed that on designblogs anything that might cause some controversion is left out. Thats such a pity because it reduces us women to humans that ONLY are interested in decor and cooking. And that is not true. We all have our opinions and sometimes it is good to allow some discussion, even if it may cause uneasiness and tension.

I love your blog. To me you are one of the authentic voices out there!

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29 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

I’m fascinated to hear that Amazon has a bad rep in Germany and Scandinavia. Very surprising to me!

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30 Ursa October 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Let me explain, as I am Swiss living in Germany: many people see how ordering via Amazon is killing small businesses and shops. In my neighborhood 2 book shops closed down within 7 years.

Another point are the work conditions that are considered unsocial. Northern Europe has a culture of security and fairness towards workers. Amazon offers worse conditions than the average German company (hire and fire, low wages, no good contracts .). This leads to a bad reputation.

I wish my English was better to explain.

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31 Sabrina October 19, 2013 at 6:37 am

Amazon in Europe is not loved very much. I reside in Italy at the moment. The biggest problem with Amazon at the moment in Italy is that they don’t pay taxes where they are located but where their headquarters are located, in Luxembourg. The Italian government and citizens are ticked about that. England as well. Plus all that mentioned above by Hanna.

PS. love your blog, I am young mom who dreams of one day becoming a fraction of what you are as a woman and a mom

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32 Dana @ House*Tweaking October 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm

NPR actually just aired an interview with Brad Stone, the author of The Everything Store, and it discusses in detail the brains and workings behind the online powerhouse store. I found it very interesting. Up until hearing the interview, I hadn’t thought much about the employees behind the scenes at Amazon. Definitely worth the listen.

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33 Robin October 18, 2013 at 3:49 am

Hi Gabby and all! I’m a long-time reader, first time commenter. I do love your stuff!

So, I’ve read both sides and do think she should apologize. It could only help. A heartfelt apology and clarification of what she meant would go a long way, adding a human dimension to her personality and attitude that many of us fear is pretty flat.

Not only did her comments lack nuance, they were really insensitive to scores of her fans and people who, like her, aspire to bring more beauty, deliciousness, and appeal into their lives.

I’m looking at this less from a “lifestyle shaper” perspective and more from the vantage point that I see successful woman put down younger, aspiring career woman too often. It happens across so many industries– you’d think they’d be the biggest cheerleaders when, in fact, they’re downgrading and downplaying other’s efforts at every turn.

Of course, many bloggers don’t want to BE Martha. But there is plenty of room for all kinds of people and ideas in this big, big life. She should respect that and not put it down.

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34 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

Thanks for commenting, Robin! I think sincere apologies are never a bad idea. I wonder if the email I received from Martha Stewart yesterday was her version of an apology? She didn’t say sorry, but she did clarify her comments.

My feeling is that she stands by the idea that bloggers aren’t experts — and I suppose it’s easy to stand by that statement because it’s true. Among millions of bloggers, clearly, everyone is not an expert.

But the tone of her email was her more typical supportive and inclusive response — possibly her way of acknowledging her tone wasn’t ideal in the interview. Who knows?

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35 Karen October 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I wonder who received the e-mail you received, Gabby.

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36 Katy @ All Sorts of Pretty October 18, 2013 at 6:26 am

Yeah, I’m still ticked. What she said was pretty nasty. “Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors. Writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good.” How incredibly rude. Bloggers already don’t get the respect they deserve, and Martha’s comments just perpetuate the disrespect. I love you, Gabby, your blog is one of my favorites but I think as the founder of Alt and because of your long time established blog and the fact that you’ve met and been interviewed by her that you may not “count” as one of the bloggers that Martha disses in her comment. It’s the rest of us that she slapped in the face. She hasn’t apologized, or not that I’ve seen, so despite your defense of her I’m going to assume she hates bloggers until she clarifies and apologizes for being so rude to the very people that support her the most.

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37 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Katy. It of course saddens me that anyone is feeling slapped in the face by this interview. Truly. That moment where you read or see something and it plants a pit in your stomach is the worst. But if you yourself are pleased with your efforts and what you’re putting out there, then I think it’s safe to assume she wasn’t referring to you either!

It’s been my experience that bloggers who take their work seriously, are indeed respected. They are quoted by traditional media, they shape many of the discussions happening in the world, and the pageviews they receive are an acknowledgement of their work and ingenuity (and sometimes random luck, too).

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38 CiCi October 18, 2013 at 7:32 am

Is anyone really surprised that Martha Stewart is arrogant or opinionated? Have you ever seen her show? She oozes arrogance, but she puts out a great product. Fact is she is an expert, she built a company/empire when most women were fighting to be in middle management anywhere. She paved the way for female/stay at home “professional” bloggers, by setting a foundation for the lifestyle movement. If you blog about rocket science or the like obviously that doesn’t apply. If you put out a great product of original ideas and well researched information, don’t be offended. Your product speaks for itself, with or without Martha’s support.

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39 Susan Crabtree October 18, 2013 at 7:35 am

Bravo! Of all the things going on in the world that desperately need our attention, this is not one of them,

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40 Jenny Bailey October 18, 2013 at 7:46 am

I think most of us know where to go if we want to see/read expert opinions and recipes. I go to Martha, most of the time. And sometimes I like things a little more messy and untested, I feel more entitled to tweak an “amateur” recipe or craft if it comes from someone who isn’t necessarily the tip tops of experience. I love blogs and bloggers of all kinds. I think there is room on the internet for content on every level. And honestly sometimes a little trash talk makes it interesting (is that a terrible thing to say?) It can inspire someone to step it up a bit, which in the end benefits us all. Martha has never, in all the many years I have followed her, read her books and magazines, watched her tv shows, pulled a punch. If she has an opinion she lets it be known, sugar-free. And I personally love that about her! Maybe that makes me (and Martha) a little curmudgeon-y but it sure keeps things interesting. :)

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41 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

“If she has an opinion she lets it be known, sugar-free.”

I’ve never heard it stated that way, but I like it. Made me smile.

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42 Kelly October 18, 2013 at 7:47 am

I have a lot of respect for Martha, and I have to admit I understand her point. I have not blogged in 6 years. I was not an expert or trained. And I have to say a lot of bloggers are not great. Yeah I said it. Does that matter? I think the bloggers that are offended need to examine why they blog. Is this their chosen profession? Are they trained graphic designers, chefs, or writers? Do you need to be? Or is their blog an outlet for self expression? A web based diary? In neither scenario, is someone else’s opinion important. If it is, why? I, personally, do not base my self esteem on other people’s opinion. I think that way lies heartache, especially if it involves the internet!
Also, bloggers have directly contributed to her company’s success but also her failures. Would Martha still have a television show, if people could not instantly turn to the internet for the same information? I am not sure. But I know I do not subscribe to magazines anymore, because I get the same “fix” for free online!
So I understand how that could make someone a little bitter. Especially on behalf of the many talented people she has employed over the years, she might see bloggers as slighting the “professionals”. And yes, I realize that there are quite a few professionally trained people blogging. But they are many more who are not.
I kind of see her as the elderly female relative that you look up to and respect, but who says really cutting things that you let go because you love her. Sometimes old people are mean! So you smile and nod your head.

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43 katie October 18, 2013 at 8:33 am

Totally agree with you! You said exactly what I was thinking.

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44 Tess October 18, 2013 at 8:17 am

I’m not following the logic re: the “proof”. I get that MS participates in social media (and she benefits from that). I get that she’s been good for you (and she benefits from that). But I think she was pretty clear on not liking bloggers in general. I take her at her word on that.

I covered the MSLO/macys/jc penney suit for a national magazine. I was in the courtroom when she spoke about how hard it had been for her to sign the K-Mart deal because she was a person with a “pretty house and pretty gardens” and she was “upscale”. But sign it she did. Did she show up for personal appearances? appear in tv commercials? have her face all over K-Mart? Yes. Yes. Yes. Was that all proof that she likes K-mart? No!

I don’t care what Martha Stewart thinks about me — and I’m sure she doesn’t care what I think of her. But I understand why people are miffed. (and hearing a “I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt” apologize only comes across as arrogant and passive aggresive — her social media team blew this one)

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45 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

I guess my point is that she doesn’t have to engage bloggers in any way, but she chooses to do so. She’s two decades past the Kmart launch of her product line. She’s now hugely successful and doesn’t have to make those kinds of comprises anymore. She doesn’t have to blog or tweet. She doesn’t have to interview or feature anyone she’s not interested in, but she features and interviews many, many bloggers.

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46 Tess October 18, 2013 at 11:23 am

I dont know what kind of compromises you mean. Working with K-mart? Anyway, she said that statement 6 months ago in a courtroom, not 2 decades ago. Her Macy’s deal was also more recent and she expressed a similar tone. She said she was also hurt by her association with Macy’s — an example she used was the Greenwich Garden Club disinvited her to speak at an event after her partnership with Macy’s was announced. She was saying very clearly, Greenwich CT = Good. Macy’s = Eh. (Macy’s was smart to point out MSLO came to them, not vice versa, and they joined forces when her business was in trouble. The suit all started when she was accused of being in breach when she signed with JC Penney )

Ironically, her business was far more lucrative in the Kmart days. I dont know what compromises she needs to make or not make now, but MSLO has lost money 9 out of the last 10 years.

I think she blogs and tweets because it’s good for her to do so. Ditto engage bloggers. I still tend to believe people when they tell you something. She was pretty clear.

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47 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

Sounds like we disagree (which is fine). From my point of view, yes, I imagine Kmart felt like a compromise to Martha Stewart — both 6 months ago when she thought back on it, and 2 decades ago when it first happened. But 2 decades ago, she didn’t have an MSLO empire, and Kmart offered her a way to grow her company in a big way. Maybe it wasn’t the best fit for the vision of her brand, but she took it. Once the MSLO company was thriving, the Kmart partnership was no longer necessary.

Would she make a compromise like that right now? Maybe. I guess it depends on if her company is thriving overall, or if there are departments within that are struggling. (Perhaps the MSLO print magazines are struggling, but the MSLO craft line is thriving. I have no idea how their profits break down by product.)

You think “she blogs and tweets because it’s good for her to do so”. And I certainly don’t think it hurts. But most individuals who head out brands and big corporations don’t personally tweet or blog, and don’t personally engage bloggers. They let their brand-in-general do the engaging. Martha Stewart’s brand-in-general does some engaging, but Martha herself also does a ton. And I believe it’s because she actually likes blogging and bloggers.

Clearly we see it differently. Again, that’s totally fine with me.

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48 Shannon { writer + editor } October 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

I watched the video and it seems to me that Ms. Stewart’s comments were mostly directed at bloggers who aren’t creating their own content, but are copying from someone else. Which seems like a legitimate complaint, and shouldn’t affect people who are generating their own ideas on a regular basis.

I’m not part of the MSLO PR team, but I have a feeling that if you’re consistently producing good, original crafts, projects, essays, decorating ideas, etc. (or at least mostly original–no one lives in a vacuum, not even Martha!), Martha would respect you and maybe even applaud your efforts.

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49 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

I agree. I think that Martha Stewart and her whole team has done a wonderful job of seeking out and highlighting people (many of whom are bloggers) that are creating “good, original crafts, projects, essays, decorating ideas, etc.”

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50 Sarah October 18, 2013 at 8:53 am

I’d recommend watching the interview before you defend her so intensely.

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51 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

Maybe. I had read the transcript and pertinent quotes in 3 different articles before I came across the actual video, and decided I’d seen enough. If I’ve been a fan through the ups and downs of Martha’s career for 20 years, do you think the video would change my mind?

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52 Sarah October 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

The video probably wouldn’t change your mind. I like Martha Stewart and I like all the evidence that you have presented to show that she likes bloggers. I just think her comment was unkind and my opinion of her and her company would improve if she issued and apology. Thank you for responding to me. I didn’t expect that!

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53 Barchbo October 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

Great post, Gabby! (If you hadn’t posted on it I would not even know this was a thing.)

I am not a blogger nor I am very interested in Martha Stewart. I DO, however, spend a lot of time reading and commenting on blogs. There’s a lot of Martha Stewart in the blogosphere (pins, mentions, inspirations) and she seems to understand that it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for herself/MLSO and bloggers. Martha seems to provide a lot of cool opportunities for bloggers so that speaks more to me than one interview.

I am a teacher. Lots of people treat my profession with intense disregard/loathing – and talk about it that way, too. Annoying? Yes. But I can either spend time complaining about that or I can work harder to make people respect my field and efforts (which is kind of like shouting into a hole.)

It’s Martha Stewart! Has she ever been anything but direct and opinionated? Not to my knowledge. Is anyone really surprised she spoke plainly?

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54 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

As a daughter of two teachers it’s always shocking to me that some people don’t respect the profession. I wonder how much it has to do with money. Americans respect money, and teachers don’t make as much as they deserve.

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55 Mrs. A October 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I can’t imagine treating the teaching profession with anything but respect and a little bit of awe. I volunteered in my son’s 1st grade classroom this morning and passed many classrooms where teachers were doing a very difficult job very well. They rock!

You are right, Gabby, teachers don’t make nearly as much as they deserve. I have made it part of my mission this year to make sure our teacher never has to dip into her personal funds for projects or supplies – which many teachers do to make sure their students have what they need. So sad.

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56 Jenny also October 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

I read several blogs and I also read lots of books and magazines. (Reading is my favorite recreational activity.) And I agree with Martha that many bloggers “are not trained editors” they write” recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good.” etc etc This is true. But that doesn’t stop me from reading, enjoying, and finding blogs valuable.

If I’m looking for recipe to serve my guests at Thanksgiving dinner I’ll probably find it in a reputable, well tested, well edited cookbook from an established book publisher. If I want a glimpse into how another family celebrates, cooks, and decorates for Thanksgiving I often find it on a blog. If I happen to stumble across a tasty sounding recipe (funeral potatoes anyone?) on a blog and I decide to try out that’s good too. (And, no, I won’t be preparing cheesy hashbrowm casserole for Thanksgiving)

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57 Ann October 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

I was a Martha Stewart fan for years when her show was first on PBS on Saturdays. I loved it. Over the course of years, and particularly the last 7 years or so, I got the sense that the MS brand magazine was directed to a different audience than myself, so I stopped buying the MS brand magazine and stopped going to the MS brand website. The only part of the website I still did enjoy were her personal travels around the world which seemed authentic Martha to me and not the MS brand. During these 7 years I found blogs and honestly found Design Mom and other high quality blogs to fill the niche for me that MS brand had done in the past.

I used to buy $100 of magazines a month or so. Now, I no longer do……this has been going on for about 7 years now.

I think MS group made a wise business decision in reaching out to bloggers. I have referenced back to her site a slight bit more over the past year or so, seeing that the MS label hosted events for bloggers. In fact, I signed up for the electronic version of her magazine about five months ago……but, I still go to the “mom blogs “every morning. I read the MS brand magazine maybe for 15 minutes a month. I find the high quality “mom blogs” more accessible and relate to my lifestyle, particularly with blogs that have international leanings.

The world is changing in many ways. It is exciting to see where this all takes things for the next few years. Competition is good!

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58 Design Mom October 18, 2013 at 11:50 am

I agree. I think many of us are in the same boat — searching out the sort of information/entertainment we previously received from magazines, and finding it online instead. And clearly, I’m grateful for it! The change brought me an entirely different career. : )

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59 jen October 18, 2013 at 11:28 am

i love martha stewart as a brand. as a person, i’m not crazy about her. honestly, does she seem like someone you’d want to grab a coffee with? she’s an unapologetic diva. so the fact that those words came out of her mouth, no surprise here. (gabby, it’s ok to watch the video). however i didn’t think what she said was that offensive. most bloggers are not experts and honestly don’t think that’s the approach that bloggers are coming from or why readers read them.

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60 sarah October 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

i just watched the interview, and agree with what i think several others in this comment thread have said regarding the idea that she appears to simply be stating facts in an incredibly straightforward (read: cold) manner.

i have to admit that what she says is the truth: there are many non-expert bloggers out there who blog recipes, crafts, or diy projects that may not be tested and that may not work well at all for others who try them. as a food/craft/diy media maven, i can see why this may concern her or cause her to caution consumers who are looking for this type of tried-and-true content. on the other hand, i can also see why those non-expert bloggers shouldn’t give a single crap about that, since if doing these things and blogging about them makes them happy as a form of self expression, that other opinion out there doesn’t matter.

i’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who devours online content and loves to try out what i find. you know what? i’ve been peeved more times than i can count by poorly written recipes or shoddy crafting projects that i’d pinned or bookmarked in the hopes of something great. do these failed attempts keep me from continuing to follow or pin these non-expert folks? nope. sure, when i need something that i know will work i’ll probably turn to mslo or (for food) cook’s illustrated/america’s test kitchens content. but there’s too much else out there that’s good to stick to what you know.

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61 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I’ve read your last paragraph 3 times. I really like it.

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62 Victoria Goins October 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for offering Martha a little mercy, especially when it would be so easy to be insulted by her comments. As a sleep deprived mom of 2, I sure could use a little mercy myself these days. I’ve certainly said a few things that I didn’t mean, or that I meant with good intentions that came across poorly. I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be to run an empire, and to do so publicly. I’m sure I would put my foot in my mouth a few times too. Reminds me of how poor Paula Deen was so recently flogged. We should all be a little kinder and gentler towards one another.

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63 Zoe - SlowMama October 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I saw the clip and while I understand why bloggers may be a little miffed, I didn’t myself find her words to be particularly offensive or even all that derogatory. What she said is true, in part — there are plenty of bloggers out there who are not “experts” in what they write about: recipes, crafts, fashion, entertaining, etc., and many are not writers or editors. So what? Martha Stewart is someone who respects “experts” and she’s entitled to her opinion.

I think bloggers need to remember that there are many people out there who established their careers long before blogs and social media, and many of them miss the way “old” media did things. It’s understandable and there are certainly elements to lament.

Martha Stewart has never been the warm and fuzzy type. She can come across as aloof and a bit cold, but wow… look at what she’s accomplished! Her company’s success has helped lifestyle bloggers indirectly, not to mention the ways she has helped bloggers directly (as you outlined above).

In spite of her comments, it seems clear to me that she recognizes bloggers are here to stay and it’s in her company’s best interest to work with the best of them.

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64 Karen October 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I missed all the commotion! The first post I saw about this was from The Allison Show and I was confused and had to google the whole thing. After I read the comments (didn’t watch the video), I thought, “Oh, geez, I can’t believe she said that. Yikes.” And not because I was offended, but because I’m in communications and I knew her PR folks would be thinking, “Great! Now I have to do a little damage control.” Been there.

Like I said, I wasn’t offended, but I did think it was a bit snooty. She does that from time to time… says things that are a little high and mighty. But I never thought she was all sugar and spice in the first place. (In business, women have it so hard – they are expected to be “gentle” but not too soft)

You’re probably correct in your assessment – she clearly enjoys blogging and social media. But I also think her detractors are correct – her words were thoughtless and hurtful to many. The reality is, when you are huge, you have the burden of having to be very careful with your words. It’s not always about intension when you’re in the public eye – it’s about perception. So, when you slip, be authentic and humble and ask for forgiveness. (And the bloggers of the world who are offended or hurt might want to toughen up a bit.)

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65 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I think your assessment is fair, Karen. I think Martha’s follow up email demonstrates she could have chosen other words. And I’m saddened to know people were hurt by her comments, but I hope they can toughen up (as you say) and move on.

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66 Karen October 18, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Oh… and one side note… I had to laugh at the part about the “testing of recipes.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried a Martha recipe (from the magazine) that has not turned out or is clearly incorrect (missing ingredients, etc.) It’s kind of a joke in my family. I do have several of her recipes, though, that re staples during the holidays (ice box cookies and cranberry relish – yum!). But it really made me laugh.

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67 Jack October 19, 2013 at 4:42 am

I really enjoyed your response to the whole Martha Stewart and bloggers buzz. I appreciate the honesty in which you wrote and the benefit-of-the-doubt approach you gave Martha. I did see the interview clip where she made those comments about bloggers, and I admit to being surprised by what she said. I’m not a fan of Martha Stewart for a variety of reasons, but here’s the thing about the Stewart brand and woman… She’s very savvy. And while everyone makes mistakes, she’s been at this for a good, long time and she knew the cameras were rolling. It’s one thing to make off-the-cuff remarks, but this woman was looking straight into the camera when she said what she said. There was no doubting her tone. There was no doubting her complete and total disdain. She knew what she was doing and saying when she made those comments. I believe this is how she genuinely feels about bloggers.

Now, while she may have made past comments that contradict what she said in the interview and spoke at various events, I am also just as sure her previous words and actions were done because it made good business sense and not because she feels some sort of kinship with the blogging community (like so many of us bloggers feel). After all, a good portion of the blogger community supports the brand. She knows there are a lot of bloggers out there who are helping her empire. Why she chose this moment to push aside that business sense, I do not know. What I do know is her unfortunate 2-minute sound bite will result in a lot of spin and back-pedaling.

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68 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm

So you’re sure her words on camera were genuine in this one instance, but all her previous words and actions were not genuine? Based on what?

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69 June October 20, 2013 at 12:40 am

First off, I really enjoy your blog. I found it while exploring the idea of living abroad with my family. Interestingly, your posts from France gave me much more insight into the dream of living abroad than any expert website or government resource ever could.

As for this whole Martha business, what I don’t get is the preoccupation with expertise. The beauty of the Internet is the multiplicity and exchange of ideas, the access to experience (as opposed to just information and expertise). Why should anyone care if someone is posting dreadful crafting projects or cookie recipes? If a person derives pleasure from the experience, then so be it. It’s like saying that a person ought not paint or draw if they can’t create anything the world would enjoy.

I will admit that Martha is my go-to site when I’ve got some serious party planning to do, but I also find the loveliest ideas on obscure sites that generate little traffic. I enjoy reading blogs because I feel that someone is opening up a part of their world to me. I don’t get that from the MS website, nor do I seek it there.

Lastly, I get it that career bloggers want to be taken seriously and that the less stellar blogs may be challenging to this endeavour, but it’s important to recognize the nature of the medium in which you work and not fight it. Martha Stewart built her empire in a completely different environment. She may currently blog and twitter, but it is not her medium — which is probably why she doesn’t speak about it with the ownership, devotion and passion that many bloggers possess. It’s okay to look up to Martha and be enthralled with all she’s done, but career bloggers need to cut the cord and recognize that they have created something entirely different than what Martha offers. Given that, why is it so surprising that Martha might say something silly about a movement she only understands from the outside looking in?

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70 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Hi June. I like your take on this. I’m now thinking about the idea of a “preoccupation with expertise”. I’m not sure if I think of it as a “preoccupation with” or an “expectation of”. Still thinking…

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71 The Nester October 20, 2013 at 6:25 am

I really appreciated this post http://www.chattingatthesky.com/2013/10/17/martha-stewart-mr-rogers/ that was a kind, interesting comparison of how our words can make people feel. All the best & I appreciate your writing!

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72 Jessica Witty October 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

Thank you for pointing out this response. Gabby, I always appreciate your thoughtful, never knee-jerk, posts. I agree with so much of what you’ve said and agree that from a business perspective and from the vantage point of inspiring the newish culture of cultivating “lifestyle,” Martha has so much to offer. I love how the linked response captures the feeling that we are each responsible for the lives that we inspire, or not, with our general tone and attitude. Powerful.

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73 erin October 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

Love this, so great to show (and link) to so many examples.

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74 Carla October 21, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hmm, so many thoughts swirling in my head right now, the video clip has certainly stirred up some controversy. I have been a consumer of MS products for 25 years. I am not always a fan of her opinions and she does sometimes seem patronizing. However, I believe she has fought hard to create her empire at a time when women were not encouraged to be CEOs. I always wonder why people are so quick to criticize her and I always come back to the same thought – is it because she is a woman? Any woman today has benefited from the trails blazed by women like Martha Stewart, Hilary Clinton et al (whether they choose to acknowledge it or not). Regardless of what you might think of MS and her opinions, she has created an entire market segment. I am not a blogger. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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75 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I’m feeling some of that too. I tend to come to the defense of trail-blazing women.

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76 Cynthia October 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Thanks to Damask Love for introducing me to your blog reference of Martha Stewart and bloggers. Thank you, for a wonderfully written article providing a different perspective then I have seen thus far.

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77 Anita October 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Interesting controversy. I am not a blogger, but do hold a BS in Speech Communications and had to watch the video for myself.
Martha’s tone was candid about all the topics she discussed, and (as many of your readers pointed out) did genuinely ooze disgust and disrespect when the topic turned to “those bloggers”, most likely because she was already in the candid mood.

No one can disregard this woman’s talent, drive and dedication to her very successful work, but I can see why bloggers who work very hard at their own craft were offended.

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78 Miggy October 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Late to the comment party here…

I once remember hearing Maya Angelou say, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Yes perhaps it was a bad day, etc… but I have to admit I’m curious why you’re not just defending something she said, but why you’re trying to actually prove that she didn’t mean what she said? My guess is that you feel there is a contradiction of her actions vs. her words…but like so many people have pointed out needing bloggers and utilizing them from a smart business standpoint is a lot different from liking/respecting bloggers and the work they do.

I haven’t listened to the interview but my sense is if she said it, believe her.

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79 Design Mom October 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hmmm. So which words should I believe? When she said she loves bloggers at Alt Summit in January? When she spoke negatively about bloggers in her interview? Or when she sent a follow up email the next day talking about how much she likes the blogging community?

I believe all of them. But since she has consistently shown and voiced support for blogging over many years, and has only this one negative interview, I believe she truly likes bloggers.

Goodness, when I lose my temper with my kids and let out some crazy threat (You’re grounded for life!), I absolutely mean it in the moment. And an hour later I’m back to liking the world again and I no longer mean it.

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80 Miggy October 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

You make some good points–we have all said things in the moment we didn’t mean and I am grateful when other people don’t hold me to something terrible I said in a bad moment. In this case I guess it depends on which voice you choose to believe. Personally I don’t put it past Martha to do whatever is in her best interest financially–she’s a businesswoman. Shoot the woman went to jail for lying when it was in her best financial interest to do so.

Of course you could be right–she loves bloggers and has nothing but love and support for them. Or it could be more complicated–she knows the blogging community is pretty much the MSLO target audience and therefore knows it’s in her best interest to show support for them (especially the more professional and polished bloggers) but since the ever growing blogging community also cuts into her media market, she sorta hates that these ‘amateurs’ are taking over the internet. No one really knows…

My main point is that when I say something stupid in the moment that I don’t really mean, then I make sure that I’m the one to apologize and/or clarify what I said. If other people are doing it for me, it doesn’t seem sincere. Since you said she sent a follow up email the next day, perhaps that was her apology… but since it seems like people can’t really tell if it was an actual apology, it still seems a little fuzzy. Just my two cents…

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81 Laura Gaskill October 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the perspective! I did watch the interview, and as a blogger, I was not offended by it. The fact is, it’s true that we bloggers, as a group, do not need any special qualifications or “expert” status to start our blogs and gain a following…nor do many of us claim to be experts, and I don’t think most blog readers follow their favorite blogs for “expert” advice! Isn’t that the whole appeal of blogging? That so many of us with so many diverse experiences can contribute to the wider conversation about the topics we are passionate about?

But the proof is in the pudding — there are bloggers out there creating amazing original content, developing delicious recipes, making art, and so on, and build careers from it because it’s GOOD. Sort of how Martha created her own career from scratch, in the pre-blogging days. And I think that, if pressed, Martha would probably agree that some bloggers certainly deserve accolades, magazine features, book deals, and all the rest, because they have worked really, really hard, and are very good at what they do.

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