Yes, Women's Magazines Can Do Serious Journalism. Here's Proof.
When Port magazine's cover story on the so-called "New Golden Age" of print media came out, many were quick to point out the myriad problems with featuring six white male editors and not a single woman or person of color. (One of my favorite responses is Ruth Franklin's fiery open letter.) Today, Jessica Grose piece "Can Women's Magazines Do Serious Journalism? Some People Don't Think So..." in the New Republic points out another issue with Port's story that hasn't been as widely discussed.
Although five of the six editors included in the piece are editors of general interest publications, Jim Nelson of GQ was also featured. Port editor-in-chief Dan Crowe asked Anna Wintour to participate in the shoot and she declined. Crowe opted not to ask another female editor, because, as he said, unfortunately, "these are not the people editing" truly excellent magazines.
The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) seems to agree. For example, the last time a women's magazine was nominated for the "essays and criticism" category of the ASME National Magazine Awards was when Mirabella, now defunct, was nominated in 1999. Considering magazines such as Elle and Vogue offer excellent literary and film criticism, it's a little ridiculous that we're approaching the decade-and-a-half mark for even a nomination.
In response to Grose's piece, women's magazine writers and editors have been tweeting excellent essays and serious journalistic pieces today. Here is a sampling of some of our favorites:
- Katherine Eban's alarming exposé, "The Hidden Dangers of Outsourcing Radiology" for Self.
- Lea Goldman's piece, "The Big Business of Breast Cancer," on breast cancer charity scams for Marie Claire. Marie Claire was the first publication to cover this newsworthy issue.
- Liz Brody's harrowing piece for Glamour on relationship violence, "Relationship Violence: The Secret That Kills 4 Women A Day".
- Genevieve Smith's riveting essay for Elle on the challenges of attaining financial security, "I'm For Sale."
- Rivka Galchen's profile of 62-year-old swimming champion Diana Nyad, "The Hunger: Swimming From Cuba to Florida," again for Elle. (Elle, in general, publishes really excellent profile pieces).
- Liz Welch's piece on the dangers of Adderall addiction, "Adderall: The 'Get Ahead' Drug" for Self.
- Kevin Conley's engrossing profile of Sheryl Sandberg, "Sheryl Sandberg: What She Saw at The Revolution" for Vogue.
- Jessica Winter's article for O, The Oprah Magazine that explores the possibility of ecstasy as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, "Can A Single Pill Change Your Life?"
Women's magazines report on a variety of substantial, relevant topics. The issues covered don't overlap perfectly with some of the hard-hitting stories of mainstream media, but that's exactly the point.