Times for a change

I’ve had a lot of ideas over the years.motherlode

Once I pitched a newsletter idea for a sanitation company in a town called White. My original thought was to name it “White Trash.”

Okay, okay, confession: that story and pun was made up.

But even though a pun may fit and might sometimes even seem too good to pass up, it doesn’t make it right.

Consider the New York Times and its Motherlode site. Its goal is “to cover the ways our families affect us, and the ways the news affects our families.”

We love the play on words if it were a moms-only site, and bear with us – we’re not comparing a term like white trash to Motherlode – we’re only using an analogy to make a point. Even its url is listed in web language as http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/.

Note the first word used is parenting, as in moms and dads.

Obviously, families include dads, and with a title like Motherlode, how can it possibly make dads feel welcome, or even make them want to check out the site?

Not surprisingly, the writing you’ll find there is fantastic – very fit to print.

After all, this is the New York Times, otherwise known as media royalty. Everyone in the newspaper world wants to be like the New York Times, winners of a record 114 Pulitzer Prizes. It has been the standard in journalism for 163 years, and of course, it is a wonderful act to follow.

Hardly anyone should ever question what they do because they’re as good as it gets, right?

In that vein, does it not seem like everyone’s giving the Motherlode name – surely a discriminatory one – a free pass, just because it’s the New York Times? As readers, do we even recognize its name’s chauvinistic tone, or have we become immune to the exclusion of dad in its title?

In the last 30 days, I counted just one Motherlode news story directed explicitly at dads and fatherly issues (while the “Deployment Diary” is excellent and referred to dad a lot, it’s not a dad-specific issue). And I only noticed three male writers. So, if “families” is its goal, it’s missing the mark in more ways than title alone.

NBC News, another highly reputable media source, became all the wiser when it suddenly renamed its TODAY Moms to TODAY Parents in June, a far more inclusionary and correct name for the news affecting, well, parents.

As it stands now, the New York Times would rather use the word mother as a generic term for parent, like Kleenex is for facial tissue.

Do you ever ask someone, can you please hand me a Puffs?

In the same way, let’s not let this attitude lead to a society where office forms simply state “mother,” but we have to assume the office wants us to list both the mom’s and dad’s name.

Dads know this oft-forgotten tale all too often.

After all, it was only two generations or so ago that dads were not even allowed in the delivery room. While that practice has changed for the better, let’s be honest, doctors still mostly speak only to moms at child well checks as if they’re the lead parent, making dad to feel like an assistant at best, nonexistent at worst.

Being one of the leaders in journalism means setting an example and acting like it, from top to bottom, side to side, and tiny little bit to Motherlode.

Get real, Hilton

Mega hotel chain Hilton claims to offer a blog about “real families and their travels.”

But there’s just one small problem with that description, because if Hilton’s world is truly reality, then only about 7 percent of dads are traveling. Among its team of 15 bloggers writing about so-called “real families and their travels,” hiltonit’s only authored by one dad.

One dad!

But what we find even more disturbing is that the blog is called, “Hilton Mom Voyage.”

If that title doesn’t strike a nerve with moms and dads alike, it should. In Hilton’s realism, the word mom has become the generic term for parent, strong enough to stamp out the word dad from even existing.

We received news of this messed-up marketing campaign from an email titled, “Real moms give real travel tips,” a partnership with P&G, who has an Olympic-sized history of banishing dads from marketing through its self-proclaimed tagline, “Proud sponsor of Moms.”

We have no problem with real moms giving real travel tips. If moms want to give other moms, or even dads, some tips or advice, have at it. Both genders can benefit from a motherly perspective.

However, when the site’s focus is to offer experiences about real families, and pair it with a blog title that outright excludes dads, that’s when Hilton is sorely missing the mark.

Hilton may want to have a conversation with NBC News and The Today Show, where this past summer its online “TODAY Moms” web section was replaced with the less offensive and more inclusive, if not more modern, “TODAY Parents.” Its rationale is outstanding, but still, why did it take so long to make the change?

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the show employed “Today Girls” (no, they didn’t use all-caps then), who discussed fashion and lifestyle, reported the weather, and covered lighter-fare stories. The last woman to hold that position was Barbara Walters, who said nobody would take a woman seriously reporting hard news back then.

Yet, here we are some 50-60 years later, and dads are not taken as serious parents by Hilton.

When will Hilton make the easy fix that TODAY wisely did? Only Hilton can answer that.

In the meantime, the reality is, there are plenty of other hotel chains where dads and moms can take their business until Hilton realizes that dads like to voyage, too.