WILL THEY BLOG ABOUT THIS TOO?: Cathy Horyn, fashion critic for The New York Times, first came up with the idea for a blog in August 2006. She was watching the original “Charlie’s Angels” reunite at the Emmys and thought about the little things one wants to write, without turning them into a full article. Soon after, Horyn approached “a digital guy” at the Times and beginning in January 2007, she had a blog. Horyn participated in a panel discussion on Sunday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on fashion blogs, which included The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman and Diane Pernet of Zoo Magazine and ashadedviewonfashion.com. The museum’s “blog.mode: addressing fashion” exhibition, located in the Costume Institute, is on display for two more weeks.
Horyn said she reads every single comment about her postings. “I’m motivated by the quality of thought,” she said. She also balances her time between the newspaper and The New York Times Magazine. “It’s one of the challenges of contemporary journalism,” she added. “I can’t do enough for it [the blog].” At first, Horyn submitted her posts to an editor, but eventually, she asked for and was granted autonomy from the editing process.
She said one example of how blogs and journalism go well together was the infamous Marc Jacobs show two seasons ago that ran a few hours late. She blogged about it from a restaurant on Park Avenue and at the show and her comments led to several weeks of debate. “People didn’t get sick of it,” she recalled.
Schuman talked about how his entry into blogdom came while he was a stay-at-home father. He began shooting more photography when his children were born and eventually expanded to strangers, from Chinatown to the Fulton Fish Market. He noticed that everyone he shot had something in common: they had a style that inspired him. A blog soon followed and it wasn’t long before Style.com and GQ came calling.
Diane Pernet, in her signature tall, black veil, said she began blogging well before the rest of the pack. She now has 15 contributors worldwide and her photographers were granted backstage access at New York Fashion Week. “I post what I like and what I find interesting,” Pernet said, noting she particularly focuses on new designers. Aside from blogs, though, several in the audience were buzzing about Pernet’s towering headdress. She said she wears it to please herself. “This is how I feel comfortable.” — Amy Wicks
TAKEDOWN IN AISLE 5: MSNBC “Countdown”‘s Keith Olbermann has waged a battle against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for suing one of its former employees, Debbie Shank, 52, for $470,000 in medical expenses paid for her care after a car accident left her brain damaged. Olbermann has named the mass retailer to his Worst Person in the World list for four nights in a row, and says his fight with Wal-Mart will continue so long as its pursuit of money from Shank continues. “If they continue to do the morally indefensible to this woman, no matter what their legal rights may be, we will keep reminding people that’s what they’re supporting when they go to Wal-Mart. And we’ll do it nightly, and indefinitely,” said Olbermann via e-mail.
In 2001, Shank was left with severe brain damage (her short-term memory is virtually nonexistent) after being hit by a semitruck. Her medical expenses were paid for by Wal-Mart, and Shank won close to $1 million in a settlement from the trucking company and, after paying out legal fees, was left with $417,000. But a clause in the retailer’s benefits agreement says the store can recoup medical fees paid if an injured employee receives damages from a lawsuit. Wal-Mart, which earned more than $11 billion in profits last year, sued Shank for $470,000, and won. Shank appealed the ruling in the summer, but lost again. Six days later, her 18-year-old son was killed in Iraq. “Wal-Mart, may your stores melt in the hot sun,” Olbermann declared.
Daphne Moore, Wal-Mart’s corporate communications director, responded in a statement: “This is a very sad case and we understand that people will naturally have an emotional and sympathetic reaction. While the Shank case involves a tragic situation, the reality is that the health plan is required to protect its assets so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members. These plans are funded by associate premiums and company contributions. Any money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes to and benefits from the plan. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal of the case, which concludes all litigation. While Wal-Mart’s benefit plan was entitled to more than the amount that remained in the Shank trust, the plan only recovered the funds remaining in that trust,” which according to reports amounted to about $277,000. The spokeswoman did not respond specifically to Olbermann’s TV battle. — Stephanie D. Smith
WHO’S GOT THE LOOK: Entertainment Weekly is gearing up for a redesign, but the new look, and when it will be revealed, is still to be determined. The magazine is holding a redesign “bake-off” to see who will oversee the transformation. According to sources close to the title, John Korpics, Paula Scher, Geraldine Hessler (the magazine’s art director) and Richard Baker are all said to have presented redesigns for EW. The process is based on what the magazine publisher did with the redesign of Time, when Pentagram’s Luke Hayman was the winner of that contest. An EW spokeswoman denied there was a redesign “bake-off” under way. Time Inc. management will supposedly decide on the winning design soon, although one of the designers is already out of the running. Hessler was let go on Friday after 10 years at the magazine, and will join noted magazine designer Florian Bachleda (who also spent time at EW) at his FB Design firm. But she’ll still get to give someone a makeover — her first task at FB is to revamp Doubledown Media’s Trader Monthly. — S.D.S.