Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can you & Moe do a postmortem on DoubleX this wknd? Obviously, terrible to have jobs evaporate, but I admit I was really off-put by the site. I think Moe once said XX should try to cultivate a Carolyn Hax voice, but hooo boy did they go in a diff directio

Well, I think it's a leetle early for a post-mortem, as Double X did technically just get folded back into the Slate family, and not shuttered. I'm not totally sure that anyone lost their jobs-- I know, for instance, that Jess Grose still has one.

But if I were to make an assessment of why it never went through the roof the way I do think it had the potential to, it would be as follows. The founders said that they wanted to make it something like Jezebel for an older (read also: smarter, more erudite) crowd. And, let's be frank: my writing and Moe's (to a lesser degree, I think) wasn't necessarily aimed at nor read in great numbers by the 18-25 set, especially in comparison to Tracie's video clips, or the fashion coverage or the gossip coverage. I wrote about politics, feminism, international women's issues, the violence visited upon women and, when I got tired of the horrors of the world, what it's like being a single woman over a certain age. Moe wrote a lot about economics and politics and, even though she wrote more retail pieces, wrote in a voice and a style that was, say, more literary than conversation -- and I doubt that the readers who bitched about not understanding were women in their 30s.

So, if I had been planning for the Double X launch, I would have said: if it's my goal to get a more erudite, feminist readership and write about serious and less serious women's issues, the readers I should be trying to poach from Jezebel are the ones who read Megan and Moe, who are frustrated by some of the more fluffy coverage, etc. It wouldn't have been the most awesome business decision ever -- I was rarely the most trafficked blogger on the site, even for the few months I was full time -- but between that, the Slate brand and maybe targeting the millions of older women who want to vom reading wowowow's site, I think they would've been in a good place.

Instead, their splashy launch was marred by a personal attack on Moe and I, inspiring a backlash by our readers, friends and writers-in-arms that managed to tarnish its reputation among the very readers they wanted to attract (let alone some of the writers they wanted to attract) -- even the ones who might have felt the frustration at Jezebel for which Double X was supposed to be the antidote. Worse yet, it's a little difficult to play More-Feminist-Than-Thou with a name that denotes cis-gender privilege.

I certainly understand the attraction to trying to knock Jezebel down a peg, and brand yourself as different, but the kind of different the Hirshmann piece branded them as wasn't helpful. And then to follow it up with a couple of pieces about how feminism is dead and the writer hates feminism probably made it worse. Lots of people, me included, never added it to our must-read list and I rarely looked at it even for story ideas, despite liking the work of several of the writers and having worked with Jess Grose. I'd guess that I'm not totally alone in that, and, on one level, that sucks. I think there was totally room for both publications in the blogosphere, and for the competition, and I think having a publication that claimed to be feminist fail isn't the best thing for feminism or feminist writers.

On the other hand, if the number of people who write about why I'm a "bad" rape victim for whatever reason in order to generate traffic and publicity slows because it's proven to hurt more than it helps, hey, you know, hard to complain too much.

Ask me anything


Elena said...

Very insightful Megan. I found it hard to get interested in doubleX. This is why.

Britni TheVadgeWig said...

I was rarely the most trafficked blogger on the site, even for the few months I was full time

For what it's worth, you were my favorite author on Jez. Always. I read every single piece you wrote, just because your name was on it. I don't comment over there anymore, and I read the posts when I have the time, but I was definitely saddened by your departure.

In fact, with you and Moe back this weekend (but especially you), I noticed how much I missed your writing. I love what you write, and often agree with you, or find myself wishing I could articulate my feelings as articulately as you manage to.

I'd much rather read something you wrote then watch pop culture clips with no accompanying commentary (I did enjoy Lindsay when she filled in while Tracie was away. Not because I don't like Tracie, but I liked the analysis and insight she provided along with the clips she posted), fashion, or gossip. So thanks.