A Tale of Mice and Moms

DisneylandI have to admit I was a little skeptical when I received the invitation to attend a “Mom Bloggers Day to Learn, Eat and Play at Disneyland.” I love Disneyland, and I like eating, playing and learning, and I am a mom and I do have a blog. But was I really a “mom blogger?” I wasn’t so sure. First of all, I have no idea what they call themselves. Moggers? Bloms?

At the same time, there aren’t too many perks for members of the press these days-unless you count all of those forwarded articles about the demise of the newspaper business from my college friends who I accused of “selling out” when they went to law school-so when I read the words “free admission for your whole family” I was sold, despite my apprehension about the words “mom bloggers.” Not that I have anything against these little moggers. But unlike them, I’m a working stiff, who doesn’t have the luxury of spending hours writing blogs only to be paid with cases of Rice-A-Roni, or even trips to Disneyland.

Okay, maybe I have a little bit of resentment toward the blommies because I actually make my living writing stories, meager though it may be. This isn’t just a hobby for me like it is for most mommygrrs, and I can’t help but remember what my mom used to say about not buying cows when you can get the milk for free.

But the waters are getting murky out there for journalists and bloggers alike. Back in the old days, reputable publications and journalists didn’t take any freebies. But the times are changing, and with barely enough money coming in to pay their writers, publishers are getting much more relaxed about letting their employees enjoy whatever perks they can get.

Just last week, The Wall Street Journal had a story about bloggers getting paid in hard, cold cash to pitch products, which used to be called public relations. According to the article, “Companies see the freebies and payments to bloggers as a cheap way to boost brand buzz during the recession.” It goes on to say that, “The Internet is becoming so rife with paid blogging that the Federal Trade Commission, which guards against false advertisements, is examining whether it should police bloggers.”

I decided to do some detective work of my own. I wasn’t just taking a free trip to Disneyland-albeit with absolutely no promise to them that I would write about them- I was doing some investigative reporting.

I was infiltrating the exciting world of mom bloggers.

Judging from my extremely unscientific sample survey of momoggers who came to Disneyland last week, the vast majority of them took their responsibility to report the objective facts about Disney’s “summer nightastic” plans very seriously. This is despite the fact that some of the mom bloggers had been buffed and bouffanted at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; many had limbo-ed and conga-ed with Mickey’s crew in his Celebrate! Street Party parade; and all of us had indulged in the tasty “Cowboy Conecakes” served in Frontierland’s new Celebration Roundup & Barbecue restaurant. Seriously, no one turned them down. The presentation was very Martha Stewart, and the frosting to cake ratio was just right, which any self-respecting mom can certainly appreciate.

I struggled to keep my conecake enthusiasm in check, hardened professional that I am. But I couldn’t help but get a little giddy at the reserved front row seating we had for the parade (I could see the flop sweat on Pluto’s face, as he danced his goofy little heart out), and did a little happy dance when they gave us front of the line fast passes for “It’s a Small World,” “Toy Story Midway Mania” and “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage,” none of which have regular fast passes available to the hoi polloi.

I tried to keep my excitement on the down low as I listened to the mom bloggers talk about some of the biggest issues on their websites.

“Our most lively discussions are always about breastfeeding,” said one of the mooggers, who happened to be 15 months pregnant.

“Not our site,” said a perky blonde. “It’s all about whether or not to go back to work. The great stay at home debate.”

“Not that anyone can afford to stay at home with their kids these days,” offered a tall brunette blogger, in purple sequined Minnie Mouse ears.

Seeing my opening, I pounced. “So do you any of you get paid for writing your blogs?” I asked. They all looked at me like I was crazy. “Does 500 cases of laundry detergent count?” asked a sweet-faced woman with exceptionally clean clothes.

They continued their conversation without missing a beat. It was fascinating, it was fun, and best of all-it was free.

I still don’t know if I’m really a mom blogger. But if you want to know the specifics about all of the new attractions at Disneyland, you can read about them on my, ahem, blog.

When Leslie’s on deadline, or blogging, mogging or tweeting, or on Facebook, she can be reached at Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on May 1, 2009.

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