The Twitterverse is clearly a major forum for debate these days (which my old Columbia professor, Sree, will attest to the growing power of social media), and one of these topics in the recent past was about women’s magazines and so-called ‘serious’ journalism. An article in the New Republic recently reinforced the idea that women’s magazines do not produce serious journalism because it isn’t their ‘mission’ to do so. Which is not only an insult, but also completely untrue. The New Republic article’s main gist was that men’s magazines and other ‘general interest publications’ (why men’s magazines do not get their own category like women’s magazines do, I don’t know) often have longer pieces that cover more types of journalism; literary and investigative journalism in particular. In comparison, women’s magazines apparently don’t care about writing serious articles as much as their male counterparts (particularly mentioned here were Esquire and GQ), and their pieces are apparently much shorter. I don’t really seem to understand why word length must even be considered a factor for serious journalism. If I can explain the same thing to you in 2000 words that someone else might take 5000 words for, doesn’t that, in effect, make me a far better writer? Apparently not.
Robbie Myers, editor-in-chief of ELLE Magazine USA, thankfully also had some words to share on the subject. Her rebuttal was, in effect, the same as mine. She says that people often confuse length for quality, and since she was speaking specifically on behalf of her own magazine, she clearly stated that even taking into account this ridiculous criteria for serious journalism, ELLE has written a number of substantial longer pieces that range from topics like selective reduction in pregnancies to policies in American government. While I understand that she can’t speak on behalf of her competitors like Vogue or Marie Claire, it is true that these magazines, too, have some articles that I think should qualify as serious journalism. Take this article from Vogue about CNN anchor Arwa Damon’s time reporting in Libya or this personal story about a shooting survivor from Marie Claire; a plea for gun control reform. Why do these articles go unnoticed? Continue reading