Vogue is facing the aftermath of a widely controversial feature on Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, where she is depicted as “A Rose in the Desert,” (as the title referred to her), despite the ghastly horrors her husband has been involved with politically.
Veteran writer Joan Juliet Buck, former EIC of Vogue Paris prior to Carine Roitfeld, was responsible not only for writing the much criticized article, but then also blurted some not-so-kosher quotes about the magazine and its content. Last week she was reported saying, “I think that Vogue is always on the lookout for good-looking first ladies because they’re a combination of power and beauty and elegance…That’s what Vogue is about. And here was this woman who had never given an interview, who was extremely thin and very well-dressed and therefore, qualified to be in Vogue. And they had – Vogue had been trying to get her for quite a long time.”
The controversy keeps snowballing as Vogue has quietly let go of Buck, and Anna Wintour, who has made her political agenda more transparent as of late with her personal promotion of Obama, finally issued a statement:
“Like many at that time, we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society. Subsequent to our interview, as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that its priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue. The escalating atrocities in Syria are unconscionable and we deplore the actions of the Assad regime in the strongest possible terms.”
Unfortunately this is not the first time a lack of investigating or research has hurt the reputation of a publication and a writer, and as writers, we should take this as a lesson to be learned.
Despite being on a smaller scale, the fashion blogging world also has its fair share of issues involving writer credibility. In fact, bloggers in general often receive lot of flack about credentials; since anyone can sit down with a computer and broadcast their views on the internet, the term “blogger” has not been synonymous with “journalist” (and with thousands of blogs updating daily, this questionable view from the general public makes sense).
So, how do you show your blog is worth reading? And how do you maintain your credibility?
YOU can only be in charge of what YOU post as a blogger, so follow these tips to keep the record straight and your stories credible:
1. Fact checking, the real way. Sure, you can Google, Bing, Yahoo, Dogpile, etc. into the far depths of the internets for information, but the best way to know that you are getting the real deal is to pick up the phone and talk directly to the source. It might take that extra 30 minutes, but if you want to establish yourself as a source worthy of your readers time, it can make all the difference. Use quotes to enhance your point in your writing, and then again in your tweets and other social media to keep it fresh.
2. Find breaking stories, or at least put your own angle on them. It’s no secret that not every blogger will get the inside scoop on a juicy story, but if you pay attention, you can make a story your own. Rather than simply reblogging a new collection, or news about a designer, find a spin that makes it cater to your website and voice. Perhaps that collection reminds you of something? Or looks similar to something? Or looks completely different than anything you’ve seen by the designer before? Think about what you want to convey from kernels you have already read, rather than taking someone else’s word for it.
3. Be careful misleading or misusing. Though quotes and angles may enhance a story, be careful of the light in which you portray things. For instance, if you only take a small chunk of a longer quote, be sure it doesn’t skew the intent of what the person was saying, or make sure that you explain the context in which it was taken. Misquoting or editing quotes to change their original intent will skew the readers’ perception of the reality of the situation.
4. Focus on the specifics. Don’t skim over any important details that could effect what you are writing. In fact, look deeply into the specifics when you are trying to find your original angle — a small detail can lead to a bigger story. Ask the who, what, where, when, why, and how about each piece of information you receive to spark unique ideas for content.
5. Know you audience. Not everyone will know every reference you make, so link or describe people, places or ideas you mention in your blogging. Make it as easy as possible for the reader — too much work to keep up with what you are writing my drive an audience away.
6. Get the opposing perspective on your article. Every story has more than one side, explore facets that other journalists may have left out. This will give you a leg up on other articles and up your credibility.
Don’t fall prey to overlooking what’s important, ask questions, and pay attention to the details to keep your blog’s content original, credible, and worth reading.