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Monday, April 25, 2005

What women want from newspapers

"Women are fleeing newspapers in droves. If present trends continue, 19 million women will drop their subscriptions in the next decade." Noting that 80% of subjects in newspaper stories and 70% of their photos involve men but that women are the main readers or advertisements, an article in Rocky Mountain News insists that "As a bottom-line issue, it's 'suicidal' for the industry to overlook women." So what do women want? "Narrative, storytelling reporting...graphics, Q&A...local news...stories that tell them how to solve problems." A recent complaint in the US about the misrepresentation of women on American op-ed pages led to studies that have shown that the percentage of top editor positions was down to 20% in 2002, that a mere quarter of syndicated columnists are women, and that only 10 to 20% of op-ed columns are written by women. So who's working to change this? In 2002, media critic Jennifer Pozner founded Women in Media & News, an organization aimed at improving media for women, and is currently working on Perspectives of Women Expand Reporting (POWER). But women seem to have different opinions on how to improve their news experience.

Cynthia Miller, a managing partner at Newsroom Leadership Group feels that hiring more females in newsrooms would be a "huge step in the right direction" but Pozner cites others who don't see this as going far enough. She feels that the dynamic of the newsroom needs to be changed in order to better integrate women. Opinions differ geographically as well. Miller's husband Edward Miller, also a managing partner at Newsroom Leadership Group rejects the idea of female news packaged in supplements; "When you ghettoize women, you marginalize them." But in Europe, newspapers regularly publish such magazines with success. France's Le Figaro prints the weekly Madame Figaro, Italy's Corriere della Sera, Io Donna, and the Spanish daily El Mundo has just released news that it is to launch a weekly supplement for women in May entitled Yo Dona. El Mundo's version will discuss issues most pertinent to women as well as cultural and political news in a 150-page magazine published by a staff of about thirty. Thus, it appears that newspapers will have to research their own readerships to find out what women want. But they'd better do it soon before they lose this demographic so valued by their advertisers.

Source: Rocky Mountain News, In These Times, El Mundo (in Spanish)

Posted by john burke on April 25, 2005 at 01:42 PM in f. Supplements and give-aways, h. Young readers / New readers, m. Improving editorial quality, r. Revenues and business models | Permalink


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