Saturday, January 03, 2009

Write Every Piece Three Times

I forget whose maxim that was, but it's a tried and true rule for journalists, which particularly holds for your bad pieces.

Last year I took after a writer named Lori Gottlieb for publishing this piece in the Atlantic about how women should settle and marry whichever schlub they can get their hands on because being a single mother is really hard. You can read my brief against the piece, and the editors at the Atlantic, here.

In any event, I was paging through Parents magazine today (no comment) when I stumbled over a piece entitled "I Heart Your Husband." The first three paragraphs sounded remarkably familiar--turns out it's Gottlieb, writing the same piece with different names and similar anecdotes.

I don't mention any of this to impugn Gottlieb--she's done nothing wrong and if she can get two high word-rate mags to buy essentially the same piece, good for her! And the second piece actually fits pretty well in Parents; it makes sense for them.

My point is that the Atlantic, which was once America's most important intellectual journal, is now running copy on par with Parents magazine.


Kit Pollard said...

I have to be honest. I feel a little better about myself now - not so alone - for the times I've thumbed through my own issues of Parents. As painful as it was.

And I do commend Gottlieb for her marketing skills, even if that original piece was an embarrassment for women all over the place.

J. Peter Freire said...

I can't believe how hard I laughed about this.