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Fed up, woman breaks up with WIRED

November 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

In an open letter to Wired magazine published on her blog, Cindy Royal, an assistant professor at Texas State University in San Marcos who teaches web design and multimedia journalism, “breaks up” with the magazine:

When I noticed this month’s issue in my mailbox, I approached it with the same breathless anticipation that I do every month. I didn’t even mind the naked picture of Jennifer Aniston on the GQ subscription insert. I mean, it’s just advertising. You’ve got to make a living, right? Then, I turned you over to see what fascinating topics I would be delighted by this month. Boobs. Right there on the cover. A pair of breasts, no head, no rest of body… just boobs. Sure it accompanied a story on tissue re-engineering, so what other possible way might you visually represent that, but with a pair of breasts? No other possible way?

This isn’t the first time. We’ve been through this before. Your covers aren’t all that friendly to women on a regular basis, and that makes me sad.

To his credit Wired editor Chris Anderson has posted a lengthy reply in the comments:

[T]his problem goes beyond women: we have trouble putting *people* on the cover. It’s the same reason: they have to sell, and what sells for us is either big ideas (sans people) or well-known, likable people with interesting things to say. The problem is that there aren’t enough geek celebrities, so we often end up going with celebrity geeks instead. Our Gates and Zuckerberg cover didn’t sell as well as our Will Ferrell cover. I’m glad we did both, but at the end of the day, we have to work on the newsstand to be a profitable business.

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#WANIndia2009: Women editors-in-chief and women readers – should we be having this discussion?

December 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Journalism

“When I walk into an editorial meeting, I am an editor, just an editor – that’s it.”

So said Champika Liyanaarachchi, editor-in-chief of the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror, as part of a panel at the World Editors Forum (WEF), running alongside the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference, asking if more women editors-in-chief means more readers.

The discussion ranged from how a growing number of female readers should impact traditional newspapers to whether there were still preconceptions about what types of story male and female journalists should cover.

Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of CityPress newspaper in South Africa, said newspapers had for too long only looked at their existing audience demographic and sought new readers within this mould. Choices made by such newspapers reinforce these reader types. We cater for them in a lacklustre way and select columnists and topics that reflect or reinforce their views, she said.

Many female journalists, in a bid to resist being pigeonholed as only good for ‘women’s issues’ stories have pointedly refused to cover such areas, she added.

“I edited unashamedly into my niche. I took great pride in covering the stories that in the 21st century we often turn our faces from (…) Growing women readers meant not patronising them with ill-conceived women’s pages, but in creating media platforms in which they were treated as equals.”

“As an editor I’m totally against this idea of compartmentalising issues as male-centric or female-centric,” added Liyanaarachchi.

Commenting on the situation in India, Bachi Karkaria, consultant to the Times of India, said while a male club still existed as a barrier to women reaching the highest editorial positions, new, young female journalists have the opportunity to change this.

“We are the dinosaurs and they are the rhinocerouses with the horns to push forward and the hides to take criticism (…) You don’t have to follow the old paradigms of ambition,” she said.

But should we be following the old paradigms of debate? If we can do away with female journalist or male journalist-only stories, then can we stop asking questions suggesting that women editors will automatically attract women readers?

As Haffajee neatly summised, it’s not about this – it’s about diversity: “Create diversity in your newsroom and then you will attract a wider readership.”

All coverage of #WANIndia2009 from Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.

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Epoch Times: Focus on female journalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan

(Via @frontlineblog) Report on the declining number of female journalists in Afghanistan, forced out of the profession by threats; and the plight of female journalists in neighbouring Pakistan, who face restrictions because of their gender.

Full story at this link…

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