Reporter Robyn Doolittle gets angry emails after dressing up for photo shoot

When the Toronto Star's Robyn Doolittle woke up this morning, 10 angry e-mails were waiting.

They weren't about her solid and dogged coverage of Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford. They weren't about her new book, "Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story," which came out Monday.

They were about a fashion shoot.

Here's the photo.

Several of the emails came from professional women in Toronto, Doolittle told Poynter in a phone interview. "These aren't like angry Twitter people." So Doolittle, who's in New York promoting her book, responded to the women. And then she sent out this tweet.

When Doolittle met with staff of Flare, a fashion magazine, at the Star's printing facility, she realized that her portrait was really a fashion shoot, with dresses similar to those she'd wear for work and lots of designer heels. But this is her style, Doolittle said. It's basically how she looks with better hair and makeup. Still, she's not surprised at the reaction.

Most of the comments she's gotten have been well-meaning, Doolittle said, from women who fear she'll undermine her good work with that photo.

But the image in the photo is who she is, Doolittle said.

"I like to dress up. I subscribe to Flare. I subscribe to fashion. That doesn't make me any less of a feminist."

Other people can let that photo undermine what she's doing, Doolittle said, "but I'm not."

Doolittle certainly isn't the first woman to be accused of undermining her work with a nice photo. In August, CNN's Kelly Wallace wrote about the upset over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's Vogue cover.

The Twitter crowd has mostly responded with a give-me-a-break reaction, Doolittle said. Maybe more interesting are a few other sets of photos. It's already become a thing for people to photograph their cats with Doolittle's book.

And at the recent Gawker party for "Crazy Town," she was asked to pose with a pipe ("It's not a crack pipe," she said.) Doolittle chose, instead, to look alarmed.

She's never wanted to be part of the story.

"This whole Ford thing has kind of ruined that," she said.

Despite her book, a planned appearance on "The Daily Show" Thursday and, yes, a fierce magazine photo shoot, she's still a reporter who covers city hall in Toronto. Sometimes, she said, people recognize her now.

"But no one gives a shit about me at city hall."


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