Monday, February 28, 2011
This week as part of women's history month, I will be blogging about the role of feminism and the women's pages. It is a complicated relationship. The women's pages were a place for strong female voices - some of whom were outspoken supporters of the Women's Liberation Movement and others who were not self described "feminists" but believers in the same causes. The difficult part for many of these women is that leaders such as Gloria Steinem lobbied for the demise of the sections. Publishers did eliminate the sections and many women's page editors lost their jobs. This happened to Marjorie Paxson twice. Steinem later reversed herself in terms of the need for women's pages but it was too late.
In my work on food editors, I recently came across Steinem speaking at a 1971 meeting for these journalists. Ms. magazine was still a few months away from publishing. This was her response when asked about her view of food pages: “the most destructive thing about them is that they make women feel their self worth depends on being a cook.” This is a rather dismissive statement to women whose careers were based on food.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I am currently reading the book, Appetite City which is a culinary history of New York City. Included in the book is the story of Craig Claiborne – the longtime food editor and critic at the New York Times beginning in the 1950s. (He took over from Jane Nickerson who wrote about food news in rationing and then post-World War II era.) This is the author’s take:
“From scratch, Claiborne created serious newspaper food journalism and elevated food to the status of news. This innovation coincided with big changes in consumer journalism. Editors gradually woke up to the fact that readers cared just as much about soft subjects like home design, fashion and gardening – the whole gamut of lifestyle topics – as they did about international affairs and congressional legislation.” (pg 306)
This certainly doesn’t fit into the traditional histories of journalism and co-opts the role of women’s pages where that soft news was placed. I would also argue that the food sections had news value prior to Claiborne’s time at the NYT – particularly during World War II when rationing was a real problem for feeding families.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I just received my copy of Associated Press Food Editor Cecily Brownstone's 1972 cookbook. She begins with a section called "Confessions of a Food Editor." It was written in a Q-and-Q format.
One of the questions was: "Where do you get your recipes?"
She responded: "From the same place Fannie Farmer (whose cookbook was first published in 1896) got hers - from the cooks of her own period and those who went before plus her own ingenuity.
When I was till new to the food business, I once complained that all recipes stem from the same basic rules and so a food writer must inevitably rely on those. When Irma Rombauer - author of the incomparable "Joy of Cooking" and my great and good friend - heard my plaint, she gave me a piece of advice. "Just be a good pirate, Cecily!" said Irma. To me being a good pirate means eschewing what I call typewriter-cooking."
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I am continuing my work on the Milwaukee Journal women’s page journalists from the 1950s and 1960s. The other day, I received the above death certificate for Clarice Rowlands who had died suddenly in 1967. Her death was referenced in Jean Otto’s book but I never found Clarice’s obituary.
The death certificate clarified that she died of a heart attack and that she was still married to Charles Nevada at the time. (He worked in promotions at the Milwaukee Journal.) It also clarified that her official name was Clarice Nevada even though she wrote under her maiden name of Clarice Rowlands.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Our beloved dog Shelby died this morning at the age of only 8 or 9 years old. We are devastated by the sudden loss. Our cat Maddie will miss her buddy.
This reminded me of women's page journalist Roberta Applegate and her love of her dog. Described as the "light of her life" was Roberta's pit bull terrier Binker. Journalism professor Carol Oukrop said of her friendship with Roberta, "It was a case of love me, love my dog."
Binker was pictured with Roberta on her funeral card. He preeeded her in death by a year.
The following is from a column Carol wrote about Roberta: "On a table near where she spent many of her final hours, I found magazine tearsheets of an article titled 'Do Dogs Go To Heaven?' And I wept."
Our Shelby will be missed.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
This past week I interviewed Tina Daniell - the daughter of Milwaukee Journal women's page journalist Constance Daniell. Tina mentioned that her mother had worked on the Breta Griem cooking show "What's New in the Kitchen?" on WTMJ in the 1950s. (Griem is on the left in the above 1954 photo.)
It was on the air from 1949 until 1962 and has been described as one of the oldest cooking shows in the U.S.
Griem also wrote the above cookbook which I just ordered. I am curious to see how she defined Midwestern food compared to Jeanne Voltz's defining food of the South.
I am curious about what has been written about Griem's show - I have found one reference so far. So many regional cooking shows have been overshadowed by Julia Child.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Today I am interviewing Tina Daniell - the daughter of longtime women's page journalist Constance Daniell. This is a favorite passage from Constance's obituary:
"Connie was a larger-than-life personality," recalled Barbara Dembski, the Journal Sentinel's Crossroads editor. "I can still see her traipsing around the newsroom in a ball gown, filing a live report on debutante balls and the like. She was incredibly tuned in to the arts and art community here, which was also a staple of the then-Women's Department coverage."
Tina was also a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal. I am looking forward to learning about her mother.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I am continuing my research on newspaper food editors. I recently discovered Jane Nickerson who was the food editor of the New York Times from 1942 to 1957, when she moved to Lakeland, Fla. She was the food editor of the Lakeland Ledger (a NY Times-owned newspaper) from 1973 to 1988. I just ordered her Florida cookbook.
At the Times, she was replaced by Craig Claiborne who remained in that position for nearly 30 years. He has been described as the country’s first male editor. According to a 1965 Time Magazine article, of the 700 American newspaper food editors, there were fewer than six men.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
There was an interesting post in the New York Times today. The Motherlode section that focuses on parenting is being moved from the Magazine section to the Style section. (The Style section is the former Women's Pages - which often focused on family, fashion, food and furnishings.) Here is the announcement.
There were several comment critical of the move. Here is one:
"Clear message from the new magazine regime : parenting is for the women's pages (style) section, not the serious journalism section (magazine)."
Interesting that the *stigma* of the women's pages remains - even with the name change decades ago.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I was doing more research on food journalism and came across this 1955 article by Jane Nickerson in the Women's Pages. What I ended up most interested in was the article next to it - "Working Wives Claim Tradition."
The story begins: "A wife and mother holding a full time job is not breaking tradition, a panel of working homemakers agreed today ina Farm and Home Week discussion.
When the country was an agricultural society women were an economic necessity in the home; today their granddaughters are simply making their economic contribution by working outside the home, the panel decided."
This is certainly an interesting message to the women reading the section in 1955. And, it goes against much of the historical tale that women's place was in the home during this time period.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Here is my tribute to Kay Mills that is posted on the Ms blog:
"For many journalism historians like myself, Kay Mills’ first book, A Place in the News: From the Women’s Pages to the Front Pages, modeled how to, finally, write women into the story of journalism. And she did it in a way that translated so well–she began each chapter with a personal story about discrimination endured by a female journalist, starting with her own story of Newsweek’s Chicago bureau chief declining to hire her in 1966. She recalled him saying:I need someone I can send anywhere, like to riots. And besides, what would you do if someone you were covering ducked into the men’s room?"
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Yesterday, I conducted an email interview with retired Pittsburgh fashion editor Barbara Cloud. She provided some great perspective on fashion reporting. I asked her about the slow acceptance of women wearing pants. This is what she said:
"I had seen them at shows in NY and when I came home I was asked to be on a local TV show to talk about the new season...I wasn't trying to shock anyone but I wore a pantsuit.(borrowed from Saks, not my own wardrobe as I didn't own one yet)
The station received calls and letters...couldn't believe I would dare wear pants or consider they replaced a dress or skirt. They were upset! Hard to believe.
I remember interviewing Nancy Reagan when her husband was still governor. She said she would never wear pants, "except at the ranch"...one of the editors at our paper saw me in the newsroom wearing a pantsuit and greeted me with "Hi, guy."
Pants weren't accepted immediately..and when they were it was specified tops and bottoms had to match, as an outfit, if worn in an office. Employers didn't give in readily."
Monday, February 7, 2011
Today I interviewed former Milwaukee Journal reporter Barbara Abel. I spoke with her about Journal furnishings editor Lois Hagen - featured above. Barbara shared some great stories and reminded me that I need to look into Journal society editor Connie Daniell. There were so many great journalists in the Milwaukee Journal during the 1940s through the 1960s.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a great food-related Super Bowl story today. It looks like Packer fans like anything green and gold - which we agree with at this house.
The more investigation I do of the Milwaukee Journal in the 1950s and 1960s, the more convinced I am that it had one of the best women's pages in the country. This was especially true in its food and fashion coverage.
We will be cheering for the Packers tonight!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
As part of my revise and resubmit about Miami Herald and L.A. Times food editor Jeanne Voltz, I have been researching more about the food journalists who pre-dated her post-WWW years. The two most influential names were Clementine Paddleford and Craig Claiborne who is featured above. A great book about Clementine came out a few years ago: Hometown Appetites.
I just got done reading Craig's memoir. He had a brief mention of Clementine that was rather dismissive: "Clementine Paddleford would not have been able to distinguish skillfully scrambled eggs from a third-rate omelet. I am not at all sure that she had ever cooked a serious meal in her life."
Food editors were split on the importance of being able to cook. Some felt that it was important and others felt they were journalists and the ability to cook was irrelevant.