Women in Journalism
There is little evidence of women far back in the history of journalism. In fact, early publications only catered to women in order to cement misogynistic social roles. Eventually women’s magazines’ began to come into circulation. These magazines aimed to entertain and inform, but also where still a strong reminder of enforced social roles from a very male orientated industry.
One such magazine that clearly shows this domesticating is The Ladies Cabnet Opened (later Ladies Cabinet Enlarged and Opened, 1655). Whilst standing out in its day for articles written on household management and cookery, by the 1670’s the dissemination of these publications became relatively common.
Gradually little political material began to trickle down to female readers. This was a conscious move to increase profit through readership. Woman where still being marginalised in media but more topics where becoming available not only to read, but also to be involved in. By the late 17th and early 18th Century there where more women in the upper classes than ever before, and hence forth there became a growing market for women as consumers.
Publications that employed women as writers introduced light hearted entertainment for women, such as fashion and romance. The weekly issue of The Ladies Mercury created by John Dunton, introduced new content that encouraged correspondence from female readers. It was one of the early forms of sexual sensationalism as included risqué features on ‘women of the night’.
The first magazine to be strictly for women was The Ladies Magazine, but it wasn’t until 1744 that a monthly publication was produced by women and for women, Female Sector.
By the 19th Century there was a further increase in the marginalisation of women through a reduction in news reaching the public sphere. Women continued to contribute to media but where limited to female only publications unless they penned under an alias.
Eventually newspapers began to realise the true potential of ‘women newspaper readers’ and there became an increased emphasis on interviews and sensation pieces. A new form of female journalism has since been developing and now woman are identified as ‘commercially essential’.
Media companies began to see the lucrativeness in covering celebrity culture aimed at the female audience. This aimed to guide women in a new way, by introducing role models whom they should follow. The value in celebrity/ scandal power created hungry corporations willing to invade and investigate the lives of those in the spotlight.
I would tend to agree that an increased readership among women increases feminised content. But this increase has not gone unnoticed and many women are not complacent with being fed this content. And now with this third wave of feminism is see journalism evolving into a more represented and constructive industry.