Making the headlines

This headline appeared in the Gainesville (Ga.) Times last month, and I suspect it went largely unnoticed across the nation.headline

Except at dadmarketing.

With this newspaper article is a headline which places a sexist stereotype on mom, and one that must surely offend both mom and dad in the process.

Is a mom’s place is in the kitchen?

Is it such that dads can’t cook, or manage to pack a lunch?

Everyone knows that the headline is the text indicating the nature of the article. The newspaper could have been more responsible with its duty and used a clearer, less offensive term, or rewritten it entirely. Who packs the lunch has nothing to do with the story’s main topic (which, by the way, is a good one), that schools are serving healthier meals than ones students bring from home.

Instead, we get a headline rich in stereotype.

We contacted the Times’ Life Editor, J.K. Devine, who kindly offered the following response: “The headline stemmed from an original Associated Press suggestion. It was chosen to show that lunches made at home are no longer healthier than schools. And for the majority of homes, I would say mother’s make the lunches.”

The second sentence really answers the question as to why it was chosen, but why use the mom reference? The third sentence explains that, which is an assumption based on old-fashioned labels society has created over time; it may or may not be true.

A better headline choice might have been: “School serving meals healthier than packed ones.”

All of this reminds me of the oft-used “Mr. Mom” title. Others seem to think it’s fine to typecast a stay-at-home dad as “Mr. Mom.” But no one would dare call a breadwinning, working mom by the title “Mr. Dad.” So why is it still fine to say that only moms make lunches? It’s not.

Finally, let’s not let the Associated Press off the hook. Its “suggestion” is one that categorizes, labels and stereotypes. It’s wrong.

The media plays such a powerful role in shaping our minds and attitudes, and it should know better.

And I always thought it was the media’s job to report the news, not create it.

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One year old

As far as we can tell, there’s not a single entity or individual on the Internet devoted to exploring and analyzing how businesses market their products and services to fathers.oneyearold

It wasn’t until we unveiled dadmarketing.com on December 14, 2013, that history was made.

Like with any new venture, there was some uncertainty about the amount of writing material, how readers might respond, and just what we might achieve.

There was never any question as to its need and relevancy. Dads remain left behind in so many facets of life, and most men don’t realize this until they become fathers themselves.

Consider the following:

  • Why are stay-at-home dads not taken seriously by media and society?
  • Why can’t marketers simply include dads in their messages and advertisements?
  • Why must old-fashioned, anti-dad slogans remain in a society that demands equality?
  • Does it really matter which gender predominantly shops for and feeds children?
  • If kids eventually grow up and leave the nest, at what point do dads become instantly capable of fending for themselves in a store, or in a kitchen?

Questions matter, and we’ll keep asking them. It’s part of our mission, our duty, and our purpose. So are all of your needs, and we plan to keep on listening to them, which help to keep us on target.

We’re smack in the middle of the holiday season, where dads and moms inevitably take part in various parties, some easier to stomach than others. But can you dads imagine attending a party where no one spoke to you the entire time?

Marketers do this all the time with word choices they make, and it’s more than disturbing.

One year is in the books, and as long as dads roam the earth, we figure we have many more to go. Thanks to all of you for your unwavering support, tireless goodwill and unmatched appreciation.

Our continued growth depends on feedback, so please keep it coming.

Here’s to the past year, and the years ahead!

If you abuse your power, do you have too much?

Who most influences your behavior and opinions?

Your parents? Your siblings? Your pastor?

Wrong on all three counts. And wrong on anything else you might think is the answer.

It’s the news media. The media has a power so strong they travel on the same plane as the President. It shapes much of public perception, and with smart phones, blogs and social media, nearly anyone can become an instrument for and with the media. You might not agree, but Donald Sterling does. And so do plenty of others.

Any PR firm will tell you that when utilized correctly, the power of the media can be a most valuable ally. When handled carelessly, it can be dangerous and harmful to one’s image. But just because the new media is all-powerful, doesn’t mean it’s all-perfect.media

In its most basic form, the media’s job is to report the news. However, more and more we witness the media injecting opinions into print stories, offering comments after reading the TV news script, and personal view sound bites that act as fillers in-between radio commercials. The Internet is responsible for much of this, where there is no time or page limit, allowing anyone to ramble on with whatever they want for as long as they want. There used to be separate news columns and opinion columns, but now you can hardly tell which is which.

The lines have been blurred. The gray area is grayer. The muck is muckier.

And now, what once was a factual reporting of events, has become a writing free-for-all where reporters can say and do whatever they want in the name of journalistic sovereignty.

This article, in yesterday’s USA Today, was tarnished early on through the irresponsible use of “Mr. Mom” in the first paragraph. What’s more, the story could have been accompanied by a photo of a dad caring for children, or working in the home. Instead, the newspaper chose to use a photo of Michael Keaton from the film “Mr. Mom,” where he’s drying a child’s bottom on a public bathroom’s automatic hand dryer.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly find the image humorous. But it had little to do with the story, other than reinforce the unfitting perception that dads are bumbling idiots when it comes to raising their children. (And the least USA Today could have done was get the year of the movie right – it was 1983, not 1883.)

All of this is unfortunate, because otherwise, the story was well done and interesting. Nevertheless, “Mr. Mom” is now three decades old, and the connotation falsely assumes that societal norms never change, leaving the reader lost at best, and offended at worst with this poor choice of association.

The news media wouldn’t be so powerful if we would only consume it, not overindulge on it.