3.1
August 18, 2011

Criticism: “elephant lacks editorial rigor & is trying to be everything to everybody, which can’t work.”

See very bottom of this blog for my direct response to the titular concern, via one of our best writers.

This article is my weekly editor’s letter, as it appears in our free BEST OF THE WEEK elephant newsletter. Overwhelmed by our Facebook or twitter or RSS feeds? The newsletter is just one email a week—just the best and most popular/controversial. Sign up here. ~ ed.

Dating a Yoga Goddess.

One of our most popular articles, ever? I can’t stand it.

And that, to me, is what elephant is. We’re dialogue, not club.

We’re about exercising our weakened societal muscles that enable “disagreement” and “respectful” to occur simultaneously.

Readers and writers sometimes ask what we’re about. “You seem to focus on everything!?” They don’t mean that as a complement. I assure them: sorry, we are about everything. Life’s about everything. And we’re about “the mindful life”—everything from eco diapers to mountain biking to campaign financing or obesity or animal rights, meditation how-to and flower arranging. We’re about bringing mindfulness, prajna, joy and compassion to everything we do.

And so it is that elephant, itself, becomes a joy to me. It’s not about me and what I like or think. It’s free to disagree with me—or you. And we’re free, through our comments section and the wonderful give-take 2.0 nature of online journalism, to disagree or dialogue with authors and one another. Respectfully.

And so it is when an egotistical self-regarding New Agey prima donna rants about how wonderful and fabulous she is, I don’t (as editor-in-chief) take the article down or edit it into something I agree with. I feature it. Then I leave a comment. And then, to my delight, our readers embrace it as one of the most interesting (whether you agree or not) articles on elephant, ever. And then, to my delight, my heart, mind and eyes are opened, and I get to like the article and the author, both.

If you’d like to write on elephant, do it now. As “Dating a Yoga Goddess” puts it,

“Don’t wait for life to look like the movies. Start writing your story. Start where you are. You don’t need anything.”

Except to email us with your idea for an article. Seriously—try us. We’ll even publish supporters of Michele Bachmann.

 

Direct response to the concern as expressed in the title (sorry about the ALL CAPS, it was in an email and I had to differentiate my responses from the list of their questions/concerns). ~ ed.

{Suggestion via writer}

Reduce the number of sections to no more than five and reconfigure the site accordingly. As it is the sheer number of categories contributes to the criticism that EJ lacks editorial rigor and is trying to be everything to everybody, which can’t work. I’d suggest something along the lines of:
> Yoga & Meditation
> Religion & Spirituality
> Gender & Sexuality
> Politics & Society
> Lifestyle & Culture

{My thoughts}

IN OUR MAGAZINE DAYS, WE HAD “YOGA, ORGANICS, SUSTAINABILITY, CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM, ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP, ECOFASHION, THE ARTS.”

I’M OKAY WITH HAVING MANY SECTIONS, AS DOES HUFF POST, BECAUSE, WELL, WE ARE TRYING TO BE EVERYTHING—MINDFUL—TO EVERYBODY. AS IN, MINDFULNESS CAN EXTEND TO AND PERMEATE ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE: FROM BUYING AN ECO YOGA MAT AT A LOCAL INDIE SHOP TO MEDITATION PRACTICE HELPING US REMEMBER TO TURN OFF THE LIGHT SWITCH, AND WHY, TO HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER THAT COULD LEAD TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, TO STAYING SAFE WITHIN ONE’S CAPABILITIES WHEN ROCK CLIMBING, TO DEALING WITH BALANCE OF WORK AND FAMILY…

THAT SAID, I AM FINE WITH REFINING OUR CATEGORIES AND LIMITING IN NUMBER AND HAVING CLEAR SUBCATEGORIES BENEATH THEM.

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