How to Pitch News to Women

Thoughts on news aggregation for women and TV shows women like

Annabelle Lee of the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League

Slate doesn’t like The Skimm. If you’ve not heard of it, it is a popular news aggregator for women. I checked it out a while ago. Wasn’t impressed, for basically the reason this tidbit from Slate said:

The Skimm treats its readers like they’ve never read an article, looked at a map, or accidentally seen a CNN segment in their dentists’ waiting rooms. Its patronizing tone assumes that female news consumers tune out anything of import if it’s not processed through verbal eye-rolls. The very existence of such a service, especially one marketed specifically to women, is insulting.

Incidentally, this is why Iron Ladies is just “by conservative women”. For us, most of the pitch to women is finding women writers who do commentary, not filtering that commentary — and certainly not reducing commentary to the children’s book version. (There are a couple of kid book analogies in the Slate article.)

Early in my freelancing career, I went to Toronto for a Munk Debate, the one on “The End of Men.” Hanna Rosin’s book had been out for a short while and so the Munk committee had Hanna Rosin and Maureen Dowd vs. Caitlin Moran and Camille Paglia debating the premise of Rosin’s book, men in irreversible decline. Paglia’s mid-roundtable (despite billing this was not a debate) comment that she listened to sports radio to hear men’s voice resonated with me. For one, I took her point about men. I wrote that up then. But as a conservative woman I wondered, where would one go to hear conservative women’s voices? (Do not say Fox News. Do not say Fox News.)

My husband had already suggested the seed idea for aggregating conservative women’s writing years before when I started blogging, I just didn’t have the experience or the network to make a go at it then. I started mulling it again after that debate in Canada.

I want the conservative women’s voice to come through, not my version of that voice or my take on what I think you, the audience, expect that voice to be. I curate some, of course, as curators do. I do not link to Fox and avoid reflexive everything-is-about-the-babies links because no one needs any help hearing those voices; the right shares them and opponents showcase to mock them, so all ‘round, plenty of eardrums and eyeballs for those perspectives. I use some subject matter finesse, although it is not all fashion type topics — hardly, and it has often surprised me how often leftist women think that throwing in fashion makes something women friendly — but it is different, although I couldn’t categorically give rules about topics. It’s more how the topics are covered. The more relational, conversational or the more something tells a story, possibly the more appealing to women.

As it happens, the best currents I’ve seen/heard hitting the tone and topics that appeal to women without condescension aren’t in news. I recommend The History Chicks podcast, 80ish hour long, heavily researched episodes about real or fictional women in history. It started with Marie Antionette five years ago. Most recent episodes are Anne of Green Gables and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Also check out War of the Roses historical fiction shows The White Queen and The White Princess on STARZ. (Emphasis on the fiction, by the way.) TWP is currently running with growing and possibly better viewer numbers just in North America than The Handmaid’s Tale though it’s gotten a fraction of the press. And I will conclude with a tangent, just because I find it interesting.

Streaming services don’t release viewer numbers unless they are happy with them. TWP has gotten little press and limited release but growing numbers, so we get those numbers. Every social commentator in HBO’s Girls withdrawal and Trump shock is writing on the omnious timeliness of The Handmaid’s Tale, yet the few numbers we are getting on it are not impressive. Like Girls pieces, there’s some effort put into positive spin of viewership. Lots of qualifiers here:

The Handmaid’s Tale was Bravo’s most watched series premiere in five years, the channel says, and the second most watched ever on the network.
Here in Canada, Bravo says at least 716,000 viewers have watched the April 30 premiere, which is a big number for a specialty channel, while an average of 651,000 viewers saw both episodes 1 and 2 on Sunday.
(The most watched series debut for the channel was the reboot of Dallas in 2012, but that was based on final numbers, which means Handmaid’s Tale could still surpass it.)

Why the commentator investment in The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopia about breaking women, instead of investment in historical fiction about women who influenced the world we live in today?

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