Ladyblogs Are Here to Stay

The Slant has a revelatory interview with Ms. Magazine founder (and Forward contributor) Letty Cottin Pogrebin on the fortieth anniversary of the magazine.

One of the biggest questions asked of Pogrebin was about Ms.’s role in shaping the coverage of other women’s magazines, inspiring the glossies’ inclusion of issue-oriented, reported features that stand out amongst the makeup and style pieces. Another question addressed? Whether Ms., which began as an offshoot of New York magazine, after all, has had an influence in today’s online media culture. She says:

Indeed in many ways, Ms., a fine magazine to which I’ve been proud to contribute, is a godmother of sorts for the thriving “ladyblog” universe to which the Sisterhood belongs.

As a pioneering contemporary media organization devoted to exploring the role of gender in topical issues, Ms. began a trend that seems here to stay. Rather than fashion, beauty and relationship tips, the new types of women’s publications try to rectify an inattention to gender in mainstream spaces, taking a serious (well, not always) and analytical gender lens to hot topics and looking for women and queer people behind the big stories of the day. And when they do address relationships and fashion, they try to “unpack” conventional assumptions.

The question with these publications has always been whether they influence overall news coverage for the better, or create a walled off “ghetto” where important stories get niche placement. I’m beginning to think the answer is the former. As the proliferation of overtly ideological spaces (feminist blogs), gender-oriented mainstream blogs (Jezebel or Double X), and issue-focused publications demonstrates, there is a seemingly endless appetite for publications that will deliver the news, as Ms. has long done, with a different lens.

I recently asked a friend who is a rabid news consumer why she reads these sites, and she told me what confirmed my own feelings: People don’t read “ladyblogs” and publications like Ms. because they want to be spoken to woman to woman. They read them because they know that’s where they’ll find the content they’re looking for. And those readers include men, too.

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