Stupid Media Tricks (The Washington Post); And Blogging With Flair (Girl On The Brink)

Posted on October 13, 2009


The amazing implosion of the MSM (that’s mainstream media) continues.

The Washington Post unveiled a new, dumbed-down version of its Sunday magazine a couple of weeks ago. More ads, less content. Don’t these newspaper guys get it? Don’t they understand that every redesign speeds up the downward death spiral.

Ann Powers, aka Jayne Lytel, new poster girl for unemployed single moms, of a certain age?

Ann Powers, aka Jayne Lytel, poster girl for unemployed moms of a certain age.

Last Sunday, The Post magazine featured a story about Ann Powers (aka Jayne Lytel) an out-of-work, 53-year-old divorced mom who keeps up her Botox treatments, her blonde hairdo and her sense of humor. She lives in “a tony Northwest Washington neighborhood,” albeit in the basement. Her last job was marketing director for a nonprofit. Her last boyfriend was a wealthy California executive.  As the story notes:

“Ann seems to have an uncanny ability to draw rich men to her side. Her ex says that her good looks have resulted in a Cinderella complex.”

I was all set to write a derisive, snarky post about the Ann Powers story. Couldn’t The Post find a stereotypically poor, unemployed, undereducated, single mom in a run-down neighborhood? But of course! Breaking the stereotype is what makes this a good story.

I shouldn’t criticize Ann Powers, or whatever her name is, for being fab at 53. Does she have a knack for publicity, or what? A five-page spread in The Post magazine, with five glowing photos!  An interview on NPR! She’s only trying to make lemonade out of lemons, and her lemonade stand is doing quite well. I want to be in on the ground floor when she starts franchising.

Of course, Anne Powers has a blog. Doesn’t everyone? Much as I hate to admit it, the blog is excellent. It’s called Girl On The Brink. She makes good points, with flare and humor, about the present economic unpleasantness. Here’s an excerpt from her “Manifesto of the Idle Workers of the World:”

“We declare ourselves too big to fail. But we are being pushed by circumstance from the comfortable middle-class to the terrified middle-class, and from the working poor to the hopeless poor. We have lost our savings, retirement, and, in many cases, our monthly income to sustain our lives. We fear homelessness and a loss of stability as we struggle with rebuilding our assets.”

Right on! And another excerpt:

“We are disappointed and disillusioned that the financial condition of our households is of secondary consideration to the economic stabilization of huge Wall Street financial firms, curiously declaring their own recovery just months after calling themselves near death.

“In August, six of the seven biggest financial institutions reported quarterly profits that surpassed expectations, despite deteriorating loans on many of their balance sheets. Many of us, however, teeter closer to foreclosure, find ourselves in distressed sales or evicted from our homes.”

Wish I’d said that! Nobody has summed up the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009, and its impact on the middle class and the poor, better than Girl On The Brink. Her manifesto should be required reading for anyone considering running for political office in 2010 and beyond.

I expect Ann Powers to have a book contract in hand soon. If she needs an editor to work on the manuscript, I am available. Come to think of it, even my former boss at The Baltimore Sun is available.  Every writer should have an editor, preferably well-compensated and with health insurance.  Editors Of The World, Untie!

— Bernie Hayden