“Can Women’s Magazines Do Serious Journalism?”

An article on newrepublic.com titled, “Can Women’s Magazines Do Serious Journalism?” by Jessica Grose discusses the overwhelming presence of white males in the publication industry. Women’s magazines get less recognition and The American Society of Editors has only sparingly nominated women for writing awards in the past. “Can Women’s Magazines Do Serious Journalism?” is the question being asked here, but what is really being refuted is the notion that women’s magazines are not capable of “serious” journalism.

Within the last ten years, The American Society of Editors has not nominated a women for “profile writing”. The article states, “When I asked ASME chief executive Sid Holt about the disproportion, he said, via email, ‘Literary journalism is not central to women’s magazines’ editorial mission—which is one reason these magazine of year in 2010’” (par. 6). Women’s magazines are not included in certain categories and women’s magazines are not able to compete with other magazines for the same recognition. In Duffy’s book Remake, Remodel, she argues,

Gender, in particular, plays a pivotal role in the organization, processes, and products of media industries—in much the same way that it serves as ‘a mechanism that structures material and symbolic worlds and our experiences of them (14).

There is a trend that all of our readings have emphasized. The path to going digital is inevitable. When talking about going digital, and the parts of society that will have to change its practices to keep up with the digital ager, magazines take a big hit. When there is a large range of online content, the need for print decreases tremendously. Although online content seems to be the direction that every medium of art and communication is moving towards, print is still standing.  Duffy writes about Henry Jenkins’ concept of convergence in the context of women’s magazines, “While definitions of convergence vary, most are oriented around two interrelated movements: 1) the coming together of the components of print, electronic, and digital media producers and consumers” (3).

Women’s magazines mean a lot of different things and in 2014, they range from print to online content. The Forbes website created a list of the top 100 women’s websites, blogs, and online magazines. Among this list is a broad range of content from women’s health to women’s fashion. The sites that have been selected range in feminist perspective, target age range, and hobbies. This shows the diversity of interests that women have and what is being targeted, however it seems that “women’s magazines” are constantly pigeonholed.

Duffy’s book asks an essential question to the digital age: What is a magazine?” Duffy explains, “Women’s magazines provide a compelling site to examine these and other questions about how ‘traditional’ media industries are transforming in a digital era of media” (4). Women’s journalism does not seem to make the cut for what is considered “high culture” when it comes to The American Society of Editors. Duffy asks more questions about gendered work culture and what pertaining to women actually means. To “appeal” to women means very different things for both men and women. Going digital has been a challenge for women’s magazines, but it also creates a unique space for them as well.

 

Duffy, Brooke Erin. Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age. N.p.: University of Illinois, 2013. Print.

Images from Creative Commons.

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