Women’s News Organizations Blaze New Trails in Online Conversation
It used to be that women’s consumer publications could only be found in the magazine aisle.
The editorial direction was built around experts who discussed everything, from how women should act to what they should cook.
Women’s media has since moved on.
Anyone still operating in that old mindset won’t find much success there, says Elisa Camahort Page, chief community officer of New York-based SheKnows Media and co-founder of BlogHer.
That’s because the tone and tenor of women’s media has changed.
“Women are looking to themselves and to one another,” Camahort Page says. “New media is about what women already know and enhance their individual approach to topics we care about. Women’s media is no longer successful when it’s trying to create this cookie cutter life to which we should all aspire.”
Today, women’s issues cover the gamut. This is a passionate audience.
One need only look to Jan. 21 and the Women’s March on Washington and in cities across the country to see this audience is huge and hungry for content.
Jump in While the Water’s Warm
Early online players to this scene include BlogHer, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed.
Increasingly, more media organizations are entering the digital mix. They carry cool names like Bustle, Refinery29, Jezebel, Babble, Scary Mommy, and theSkimm.
Later this year, The Washington Post will launch The Lily.
The Lily will be “an experimental, visually driven product designed for millennial women that will boldly reimagine The Post’s award-winning journalism for distributed platforms … The Lily will appear on Medium, Facebook and Instagram to start,” says the Post.
The Lily will have its own editorial staff and feature issues, including women’s health and gender equality. It also will come with a twice-weekly newsletter.
Poynter wrote about it in With The Lily, The Washington Post is Looking for New Audiences in New Places.
Bustle was launched summer 2013.
Its goal was to speak with millennial women on everything, from fashion and celebrity culture to women’s reproductive rights and hard news.
“We’ve really accomplished that mission — we reach 50 million readers each month, more than any other independent women’s site on the planet,” says Julie Alvin, executive editor of Bustle.
No Pink Banners Here
Camahort Page isn’t surprised by the entrance of new media catering to women’s issues.
To her, it’s a recurring cycle.
“Some survive and some don’t,” Camahort Page says. “It’s about understanding what’s already out there. Women’s focused and putting a pink banner on it isn’t super savvy. In the end, it comes down to whether they’re delivering content and opportunities that are valuable to their audience that they can’t get anywhere else.”
Bustle’s Alvin says she personally gets passionate about women’s health, women’s reproductive rights, feminism, and politics.
Those are some of her favorite stories to cover.
“Given the current political climate in the U.S., I am thrilled and grateful to have a platform to deliver information and ideas on those subjects — whether it’s a personal essay from a woman whose life was saved by Planned Parenthood, a thinkpiece on what white women need to know about the Women’s March, a feature on how women are treated in political debates, or an action plan on how to resist a Trump presidency,” Alvin says. “Participating in that conversation could not be more important right now.”
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Rick Edmonds, media business analyst with Poynter Institute, says media regularly produces stories covering the “reset and recharge of the women’s movement.”
But this story’s been around a long time and has taken on different forms (i.e. equal pay and work, etc.).
“A good magazine taps into what people feel strongly about,” Edmonds says. “There’s broad interest here, so it’s a natural opportunity for publications of all kinds.”
Edmonds mentioned there’s not only been new publications going after this space, but there’s been “quite a boom in conferences about empowering women.”
Poynter itself hosted a millennial women’s conference, and it was a huge hit.
So could there ever be too many players in women’s media?
Camahort Page says it comes down to goals.
“When there’s a business at stake and investors and you need to scale a business, there can be too many because things can be diluted,” she says.
But we’re not there yet, Edmonds says.
“Right now the demand is intense and a lot of people are responding to it,” he says. “I don’t think we’re at the saturation point yet, but we might get there.”
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Christine Cube is a senior audience relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her at @cpcube.