Sunday, February 01, 2009

Topic Choices in Web Writing

On the tendency of women to gravitate toward lighter, traditionally feminine subjects in their writing:
Being a political journalist/columnist, or a serious national affairs/sociocultural-type reporter/freelancer, has got to be hard (both in terms of skill level and opportunities to break in). Very hard, regardless of gender. It’s not something any writer/reporter can just do. But women, I think, have a lot more options when it comes to the range of topics, in general, they can write about and still be "journalists." There are many, many more (paying) outlets for fashion/beauty/entertainment/sex/relationship writing than political writing.
It’s kind of the same psychology that I think is often under-valued when explaining why women ‘opt out’ of the workplace—work can suck! It’s sometimes hard, and sometimes boring, and for people who don’t find themselves in a perfect situation, staying home with the kids full-time can seem like a socially acceptable way to ‘fail,’ to give up—one that more men would avail themselves of, too, if they could as easily.
[A] lot of very smart, very political women writers/bloggers/pundits are naturally going to be attracted to reading about issues that directly affect them. Which means less time keeping up with the Big General Political Issues.
On the demise of law student blogs as fora for substantive legal discussion:
There were very few student blogs that took a crack at substantive legal issues. The ones that did were often bad at it, or they buried those sorts of posts under a bunch of other stuff. Most students seemed to really want to write about law, but seemed to find it much easier to talk about clothes, recipes and literature.

The ones smart enough to write about law were probably too busy studying or writing real articles.
The common thread: it's just easier and less risky to write about fluff. I could attempt to write about substantive legal or political issues and potentially alienate a client or colleague. Or I could take the socially sanctioned path of least resistance and write about the gingerbread I made this weekend.

Recipe for Amber's Gingerbread

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose unbleached flour (11 1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, then cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk

Grind the crystallized ginger into small pieces in a food processor to a consistency between gravel and sand. Preheat oven to 350 and spray 9-inch square springform pan with Baker's Joy. Combine and whisk dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar, then add molasses and yogurt. Add milk slowly. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until well-combined but do not overmix. Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
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