She the People, the Washington Post’s blog for women writers, has been shedding authors. Launched in January 2012 with 25 voices, it now features four.
It’s not quite “Me the People,” but it’s getting closer. This is sad news. When the blog was roaring along with a chorus of women writers—from Athens to Kansas City, London to Dallas—it was often newsy, amusing, and provocative.
Melinda Henneberger, who created the blog and still writes for and curates it, said in an e-mail: “Our budget hasn’t been cut; we shifted to more content from fewer contributors. We’ll see what happens, but instead of having a long list of theoretical contributors, I opted for truth in advertising and a core group of constant contributors.”
Before March 17 the blog featured dispatches from more than a dozen writers. Now it seems to be down to four: former New York Times reporter Henneberger, from Cambridge, where she’s a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School; Vanessa Williams, a longtime Post reporter and editor; Mary C. Curtis, a veteran journalist from Charlotte; and Diana Reese, a freelance writer in Kansas City.
Gone is Peg Tyre, author of books on education, who had some choice words for Sheryl Sandberg and her bestseller Lean In, about how women can be more successful.
“If you want to change things for young ambitious women,” Tyre wrote on March 9, “here’s a little advice from me: Forget trying to organize little consciousness-raising groups around the country for already stressed-out women. Instead, lobby your bosses to get another woman on your Facebook board, then make a public announcement that from now on, Facebook will only do business with companies in which 40 percent—even 30 percent—of their executive team is female.”
Out the door is Atlanta-based writer Patricia Murphy, who advised Taylor Swift, “the spindly, blonde country songstress,” to “lighten up” for calling Tina Fey and Amy Pohler “sexist” for joking about her love life during the Golden Globes.
The last story from Anthee Carassava, writing from Athens, was a delightful piece about desperate and depressed Greeks going to “laughing clubs” to relieve the pressure from the country’s crippling depression.
Among the departed writers: Delia Lloyd, a correspondent based in London; Michelle Bernard, founder and president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy; Suzi Parker, an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist; and two veteran Washington-based journalists, Annie Groer and Bonnie Goldstein.
Writing for She the People was a labor of love, not cash. Contributors received about $100 a piece.
I suspect the move to “fewer contributors,” as Henneberger said, was dictated by metrics more than by money. And the blog still delivers pungent commentary from the female perspective. Still, it’s a loss to see so many robust voices gone silent at the Washington Post.
UPDATE 3:10 PM: “This change had nothing to do with metrics or money,” said Vince Bzdek, the national digital political and editor of the She the People blog. “This was an editorial choice to emphasize fewer voices more often.”