KEEPING UP WITH HUFFPOST DIVORCE: Huffpo gets criticized by religious groups and Culture & Media Institute – oh vey!

Filed in Divorce News:
It just so happened that I stumbled upon this website called www.sbcbaptistpress.org and found quite a scathing review of Huffpost divorce. It reads in part:

The conservative Culture and Media Institute, in its critique of the Divorce section, said the “disheartening reality of divorce is trivialized all over the site,” and the project comes across “as a depressing, left-wing agenda push for a society in which divorce is celebrated as an exercise of personal freedom.” [more]

And I thought, “wow, what would they say about Divorce Saloon?” He talks, for example, about a recent post at Huff called “Divorce comfort foods.” I saw that post and thought it was great, actually, especially because it followed a number of similar posts I had done on Divorce Saloon about foods. The same week Huff came out with “comfort foods” I had done some posts on a “rice porridge” recipe and a margarita recipe and a few other food based/lifestyle type posts. When I saw Huff had come out with the “Comfort Foods” post, I was shocked, actually. I wondered if maybe one of their writers had read my blog and had gotten inspired by it. (Yes, I know. Don’t flatter myself. I’m nobody. But the timing was weird.)
I think these types of posts, like comfort foods and the like, are totally germane and totally relevant and needed, and appreciated by those who are actually going through a divorce. It’s not all about the lawyers, judges, money and depression. People also have to eat. They have to take care of themselves. They need to go on living. That is why I do those types of posts, and I think that is why HuffPost did theirs too.
At first, when I started with these types of non-traditional posts on Divorce Saloon, I wasn’t sure, myself, if it was too “trivial.” But when Huff burst out with their Comfort Food post, I have to admit I felt more confident to keep doing what I am doing over here. I felt like, “okay, you’re not crazy. This is good stuff.” So it’s interesting that the comfort foods post is one of the posts that the religious folks object to, as “trivializing” divorce.
I don’t think talking about comfort foods for divorced people “trivializes” divorce at all. It simply recognizes (at least, I should speak for myself) that divorce is a reality. And life goes on after it. And providing folks with ideas and resources – even about eating, health, traveling, etc., is perfectly a legitimate undertaking….
That said, the Baptist article was nothing compared to what they said about HuffPost divorce at the Culture and Media Institute. You can find that article here. The author, Erin Brown wrote on November 17, 2010:

The Divorce pages of the Huffington Post are a repository of sophistry, self-help speak and sex jokes. Divorced parents remarrying and “getting into bed,” ha ha. Divorce is good for children because the nuclear family is simply “dull.” The disheartening reality of divorce is trivialized all over the site with lines such as “Quickie divorces … are inexpensive and relatively simple ways to split up on the fly…..
While on its face, the idea of dedicating a webpage to coping with divorce seems noble, a fuller reading of it’s actual content shows something different. The Culture and Media Institute has highlighted five of the most egregious examples of commitment-shrugging, selfishness and simple inappropriateness found on the Huffington Post divorce pages.”

The author goes on to highlight these “egregious examples.” And then she goes on to hit other news media whom she believes is just as guilty as HuffPost in trivializing divorce. She says:

The Huffington Post is not alone in its shoulder-shrugging over divorce and its ‘ho-humming’ about broken marriages. From a rash of celebrity divorces to high-profile political separations, NPR, NBC, and the Wall Street Journal were among the media outlets that made light of the devastating effects of divorce.  The Culture and Media Institute noted that Wall Street Journal writer Jeffrey Zaslow attempted to put the Gore separation into context with some disheartening Census statistics about divorce. “Whatever the Gores’ issues – he’s 62, she’s 61 – they are part of a new normal that began with their generation, according to Census statistics. Of the 8.1 million women who were married between 1970 and 1974, just over half made it to their 30th wedding anniversary, compared with about 60% for women married between 1960 and 1964,” Zaslow said.

 Wow. Well, I’ve attempted the occasional sex joke over here. Just yesterday, I did a post called, “The Thong.” Which I personally thought was hilarious. So what? It’s life. Thongs are a part of life, divorce is a part of life. It’s  hard to get all hot under the collar about any of this, because, as I said, for the last two years, I’ve been taking a similar stance that HuffPost has been taking on their divorce blog – and then some. I don’t want to sound conceited but so far, HuffPost hasn’t covered anything original that I haven’t already discussed on Divorce Saloon. No, seriously. But that’s a good thing! It makes me feel like I’ve been doing something worthwhile for readers and folks going through divorce. 
I can’t speak for HuffPost but I personally reject the idea that I have “trivialized” divorce. Admittedly, I’ve never ever done a post that said ”divorce is good for children.” So, I guess they did do an original post I hadn’t done yet. Or, I should take, they took an original angle. Anyone who has read my blog knows I’ve maintained the very opposite world-view from the get-go. I don’t play when it comes to the kids. The children are sacrosanct. Keep them out of the mess. That is what I say. I think divorce is VERY bad for children – normally speaking – and I’ve never ceased saying so. I did see the article Culture & Media refers to on Huff, about divorcing being good for the kids, but I didn’t read it (can’t read ’em all.) I am sure it was tongue in cheek, though.
As a blogger, divorce professional and social observer (and centrist liberal), I have always maintained  a very “anti-divorce” stance – which surprises people, given that I am a “divorce lawyer.” It’s my residual Catholicism, what can I say? I don’t personally believe in divorce. I recognize that sometimes, it has to happen. It’s the only solution to a bad decision to get married in the first place, sometimes. And I think what HuffPost is doing is trying to just be a part of the solution, rather than standing in the way. They are not advocating divorce. But if people can’t hold on to their marriages, they are a portal for information, trends, news and ideas and “all things divorce” – just like Divorce Saloon (hey, wait a minute, that’s OUR tag line that Media and Culture attributed to HuffPost! No fair!). This is how we’ve described ourselves as “all things divorce” FROM DAY ONE – circa two years ago! That’s not fair that they are attributing that to HuffPost. I should have trademarked it. That pisses me off a little bit. It really does. Here’s our About us, in Part:

Divorce Saloon, commenced in 2008, is a one-of-a-kind GLOBAL 24/7 divorce blog. This international portal for all things divorce  is the brainchild of a former NYC divorce attorney. The blog started out as a professional divorce journal, evolved into an online divorce magazine in its second year, and at the beginning of year 3, morphed into an online divorce newspaper. [Read more here.]

Well, whatever. I do think Huff’s divorce blog is heavily celebrity-based, though. And I can see how some people can see that as “trivializing divorce.” That is why I have tried very hard to have a balance on Divorce Saloon that includes not only celebrities, but a wider cross-section of posts – celebrities are just one part of a twelve part whole. I blend the celebrity with law, finance, politics, sports, lifestyle, book reviews, children/custody issues and global divorce news. I even have a horoscope section,a divorce store and a classified section for divorce professionals. These for sure are the distinguishing features that makes this blog one of a kind right now. Not to toot our own horn, but it is what it is. There’s no one else on the Internet covering divorce quite the way we are doing it right now. Not even HuffPost, although, I won’t hold my breath on that one.
As of now, HuffPost Divorce is really about celebrity divorces. That’s the driving feature of their blog;  and because celebrities on a whole tend to have short-lived marriages, one can understand if conservatives believe that celebrities “trivialize” marriage and so by covering mostly celebrities whose marriage implode a mile a minute, Huffpost seem like they “trivialize” divorce.
It’s a valid criticism, perhaps.
But overall, I can’t bash them too much because what they do completely imitates a huge segment of what I do, and have been doing since I started the blog in 2008. And I think it is time for some big media like HuffPost to start doing exactly this – and I am glad they are doing it. If for no other reason, they inspire me to try to be even better; to think outside the usual box, to work harder at being even more ORIGINAL, and come up with ideas, resources and information that people who are going through a divorce can actually use. What’s so wrong with that? I think it’s quite noble of us, actually.