Last month the LA Times kicked up a well-deserved feminist firestorm when they ran a photo of author Jonathan Franzen above a story about how novelist Jennifer Egan had just won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Franzen had supposedly been the favorite to win and the Times claimed they couldn’t dig up a recent photo of Egan–even though they covered the even in person.
Egan addresses the Times’ snafu in an interview with Entertainment Weekly and took the issue head on.
It was funny; by the time I knew of the brouhaha, it seemed to have taken on a life of its own. In a way, whatever aggravation I might have felt was preempted by the fact that so many other people were incensed on my behalf! I did think that the Times’ excuse — “We didn’t have a picture of her” — was a bit Old Media. I mean, there are lots of pictures of all of us out there, and it takes all of a millisecond to find them. The outcry points to the intense frustration many people feel on behalf of female writers, and I’ve certainly shared that frustration at times. I think that all discussions of this sort are useful — messy and awkward though they may be. I guess I’m a believer in open airing of collective grievances, rather than private seething.
Good for Egan for not backing down. We her framing of the issue as old media cluelessness. Seriously, it’s called Google image search and it takes two seconds.