My goal for The Women’s Postis to become the best newspaper for women in North America within the next 10 years. The key to achieving this is to deliver the news in a format that recognises the differences in the way women and men gather and process information.
Over the years, through feedback we receive from our readers, I’ve discovered that women prefer more context in the news they get than men seem to require. While a man may want to know the number of people killed in a bombing and the time and place it occurred, a woman often wants to know more than just those facts, like how it happened and how those involved were feeling or what they were thinking.
I’ve also found that women want to know more about the person giving the information. They judge the source and require more description. Female readers seem to want more of the story surrounding the news. No longer are the basic journalistic facts that cover who, what, when, where and why enough.
The success of The Women’s Post in gaining female readers is in part due to the fact that we are providing more information, more discussion and commentary for women whose vision reaches past what was conventionally designated as “female interest sections” such as fashion and home décor. The daily newspapers cling to the belief that special sections will attract female readers, thus creating style sections that poorly imitate fashion magazines, or décor sections that focus on nothing more than what is trendy. They mistakenly think that women aren’t as interested in news about the world around us – without realising that women’s interests are as diverse as men’s.
I believe that the format, or the way the news is delivered, is more the issue and that by changing the format we will gain more female readers as we deliver news with context. Women want to get all the news, but they enjoy it most when it is delivered in a way that is written for them, in a way that captivates them and allows them to judge both the source and the circumstances surrounding the facts.
I believe that the tradition of “just the facts” reporting that has prevailed over the past century is slowly losing credibility. My hope is that journalism will shake free of this “facts only” style of news reporting that is entrenched in our schools and media – a style that presents itself with authority, but often lacks objectivity and integrity.
Supporters of this type of journalism, from teachers to professionals, insist that its objective style creates a “purer” form of news. But truth requires context. Without it, facts can be omitted or distorted to such a degree that bias and self-interest often prevail. Hiding the position of the writer and limiting her voice, doesn’t allow the reader to judge the person giving the report. For example, if I report simple facts like “two American soldiers were killed by unfriendly fire in Iraq” without reporting the full context of the story – that the soldiers open fired on a group of wandering refugees, killing five of them before the refugees finally shot back in defence – I haven’t given the full context and the truth doesn’t surface – or eventually does, to our horror, as we are learning of late.
An honest editor or writer will admit that the very act of writing or editing requires subjective decisions that end up influencing the information the reader is given. Without all the details, without the story that the facts live in, judgments can be made by the reader that are often terribly wrong.
I believe that a writer must always make his point of view known to the reader and by avoiding the pretence to purely objective journalism, by giving more narrative, context and description in the news we discuss, The Women’s Postwill allow the reader to judge not only the facts, but also the source of those facts. If the position of the writer is obvious, then the information they supply can be judged for what it is worth. In doing this we will strive to become the best newspaper in the country.
Readers of The Women’s Postwill notice that our journalists write in a first-person narrative style. They talk to the reader on an intimate level without posturing or pretension. Our editorial mandate is to provide good judgments based on fact, to avoid presenting factual data with unwarranted authority and have passion in every article we print. Our writers must produce an emotion in readers, making them angry, happy, sad or thoughtful. Their goal is to give the reader something to take away, a universal idea discussed on an intimate level, informative facts delivered in full context, a feeling or a beautiful moment captured in time. The reader must know that the writer is offering her judgment, and the writer’s voice must be strong, obvious and open, in contrast to the almost non-existent, beige voices that fill many of the daily papers.
Our editorial style is gaining us more and more readers and we have also managed to gain investors, despite the predictions of a few narrow-minded bankers who blindly preached that women occupy a “small niche market” – ignorant of the fact that there are currently more women than men in every major city in Canada, and that women now control over 80% of purchase decisions in North America.
I was asked the other day if I started The Women’s Post as a feminist vehicle. My answer was: absolutely not. I don’t even believe in feminism as I’ve always believed that “isms” become “wasms.” I believe there are huge differences between men and women, but I don’t believe those differences – or racial and religious differences for that matter – should be used to segregate or alienate anyone. I didn’t start The Women’s Post to alienate men and I’m proud that we have both male and female writers and readers, but I did want to create a newspaper that recognized that women and men think and approach issues differently, one that offers readers more context and narrative than the current newspapers are supplying and one that might have a chance at causing fundamental changes to the way we gain information about the world around us.
I encourage readers to support our advertisers who support us. If you are in need of financial advice Doug Lamb provides his thoughts on Finance page. He can be reached at 416-886-1555