UPDATE (10/6): A Marie Claire editor contacted me with a clarification. I included it in bold below.
UPDATE (10/5): As a commenter to this post noted, Marie Claire responded to the outcry and is sticking by the story.
If you're just joining us, Marie Claire magazine ran a story about the six most-popular bloggers in the health and fitness blogosphere, a story that many readers believe was an unfair and harsh.
The magazine's response appears as an addendum to the online version of the article. The editors write: "This is a controversial subject, and we always welcome a good debate. Like every article published in Marie Claire, this one was researched and edited carefully over the course of many months, and we stand by its content. Thank you for letting us know how you feel -- we are listening!"
Considering the vast amount of negative comments, and the vitriol in those comments, this is a pretty toothless response from the magazine. Doubtful it will stem the flood of "I'll never buy another Marie Claire" type comments on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogosphere.
Here's the response in full, which you can also read here:
To our readers: Thank you all for your responses to this article. Since the piece went online, hundreds of you have written to us. Twitter, Facebook, your blogs, and comments on our website have all been lighting up with messages, and we are thrilled to hear from you. Some of you wrote in anger, while others applauded us for voicing concerns about this community. We believe the outpouring of comments proves the issues raised in the piece are important. This is a controversial subject, and we always welcome a good debate. Like every article published in Marie Claire, this one was researched and edited carefully over the course of many months, and we stand by its content. Thank you for letting us know how you feel -- we are listening!
Meanwhile, a recent comment to the story from someone quoted in the piece makes a serious allegation against Katie Drummond, the author of the article. The commenter, who goes by the alias VeggieGirl88, remarked:
Excuse me, but I was never ever contacted, quoted, or interviewed for this article. There's personal, false, and exaggerated information about me in this article; not to mention that it is completely random that I am even included in the last paragraph! This is ridiculous and poor journalism! I am a journalism major, and my journalism professors (I sent them the article) agree and all states that it is "bad journalism, plain and simple." I expect to be contacted IMMEDIATELY and that the part of the article, at the end, with my information be removed. This is unfair to me and I am appalled that this is considered to be a good article. Again, WHY AM I INCLUDED AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE?! And why was I never contacted for consent or truthful commentary?!
Here's how she was portrayed in the story:
Vulnerable readers might be getting a different message. In January, Liz Stark (online alias: veggiegirl), a Big Six follower who blogs about her diet and her Crohn's disease, posted a haunting video of herself, gaunt, with protruding cheekbones and thin hair. On the advice of her counselor, Stark said she was giving blogging a break; she had 20 pounds to gain. "The last thing I need to worry about is how to eat less and move more," she said. When we e-mailed her, she wrote tersely that blogging helped her "form friendships and learn new information."
"Sometimes concern is appropriate," says Anderson of the video. But "the blogger is making the choices that are right for her." Meanwhile, discussion of the 2011 Healthy Living Summit has already begun.
Tough allegation -- if it's true. Sometimes people don't like it when they see themselves in black and white print and blame it on the journalist.
The allegation is false, says Marie Claire senior editor Sophia Banay Moura. In an e-mail, she said the magazine has "records of our reporter's correspondence with VeggieGirl88 on file, despite her claims to the contrary."
My original post about this incident is below.
Have you heard about the latest social media-driven firestorm? It started this weekend and has gained momentum in the last 24 hours.
Here's the gist.
This month, Marie Claire magazine ran a story ("The Hunger Diaries: How health writers could be putting you at risk") about the "Big Six" female bloggers in the "insular food and fitness obsessed blog world." These bloggers are so popular that big food and wellness corporations--like Stonyfield Farms, Quaker Oats, Arnold and Oroweat-- "are wooing the Big Six, hoping to score mentions online and reach their readers: A gold mine of young, educated women hell-bent on achieving sylphlike physiques."
These "Big Six" bloggers write about their sometimes extreme exercise routines and strict eating habits--habits that the article's author, Katie Drummond, suggested border on eating disorders. They might be a bad influence on their readers, the story said.
"But behind the [bloggers'] cutesy titles and sloganeering lies an arguably unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and weight," Drummond wrote.
A BlogHer post referred to the story as a "mean-spirited attack" on the Big Six.
That's the overwhelming sentiment across social media platforms, where the backlash to Drummond's piece has proven fast and furious. In only a handful of days, the story has sparked outrage in blogs, on Twitter, and on Marie Claire's Facebook page. Here are three of the countless posts on Marie Claire's Facebook wall in about 30 minutes last night:
"Your article about Healthy Living Blogs is TRASH! How can the woman who wrote it be employed as a journalist?!?!?! The women who write these blogs are NOT anorexic, do not have eating disorders or anything like that. And the funny thing is that I bet the author knows this...or else is just beyond STUPID!"
As these negative remarks continue to pile up, Marie Claire has yet to respond. PR pro and PR Daily contributor Claire Celsi told me, "And I'll bet after some fact checking is finally done, readers will get an apology."