Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NYT's "Motherlode" vs. HuffPost's "Parentlode"

Recently, Lisa Belkin left New York Time's Motherlode blog and went over to Huffington Post, where she now writes for the newly-founded Parentlode.

The NYT has sent HuffPo a cease and desist letter claiming that the name is too similar to the blog she just left and that she's trying to confuse readers by suggesting Parentlode is a continuation of Motherlode.

The whole debate can be seen as a problem of new media conventions, as this Reuters blogger examines:
Of course the Parentlode name is designed to create that association. As is the rather more germane fact that Parentlode is being written by Lisa Belkin, who founded Motherlode.Blog names do, of course, have a tendency to follow their authors around.
He goes on to explain that the NYT's response suggests that they are "still very uncomfortable with helping to build personal brands." 

While there is an interesting conversation to be had about what this spat says about the nature of blogging, branding ownership, and so on, I'm more interested in looking at the name itself. 

This Business Insider post claims that: 
Parentlode is a terrible name for a blog. It's ugly, unspecific, and not worth fighting for. We enjoy Belkin's writing and look forward to her work at the Huffington Post. She's plenty good enough to use her existing name to build another brand. Why doesn't she just do that?
I disagree. I think that Parentlode is a much better name for a blog on parenting than Motherlode, and Belkin addresses the reason why in her welcome letter for the new site:
Finally, why the new name? For three years I have fielded reader emails about how "Motherlode" doesn't really fit in an era when fathers are every bit the parent. It also doesn't fit a blog that so regularly champions equality, and new paradigms, nor one that is written by a writer who is exquisitely aware of the power of words. For three years I have answered those emails by saying that a brand is a brand, and the Times wasn't inclined to change this one, but if I were choosing today I would choose something more inclusive.Seems I AM choosing today. So welcome to "Parentlode." 
Whatever comes of the name battle, I'm looking forward to reading Belkin's work, which has already served up some interesting topics. If she is forced into a name change, I hope that inclusivity will remain a priority in both the title and the content.

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