Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Today I am working on revisions of my article about Milwaukee Journal women's page journalist and later food editor Peggy Daum.
Daum had a strong journalism background that she applied to her beat – food. Barbara Dembski, the Milwaukee Journal's assistant managing editor of features, said Daum never abandoned her audience. She said of Daum: “Despite her national stature in food journalism, she never forgot who her section was for. She wrote it for the typical, salt-of-the-earth, best cook on the block.”
And those neighborhood cooks, her readers, regularly called her with questions about new dishes and in later years questions about new grocery store items like tofu or cilantro. Yet some Milwaukee recipes so defined the community that calls to the newspaper were not necessary. “If you are making German potato salad, you already know how,” Daum said in 1988. “The right way to make it is the way your mother and grandmother made it. You may argue about it with someone down the block, but you don’t call me.”
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Yesterday, I discovered a collection that had a folder of papers from women's page editor and then publisher Gloria Biggs. The papers are from her time post-publisher working with the World Press Freedom Committee.
Her official papers are in the National Women and Media Collection in Missouri. I am presenting a paper about on Biggs at the Florida Historical Society's annual meeting in Jacksonville this weekend. It is called: “I Weep When I Read the Lines about Not Being a Feminist”: Gloria Biggs’ Transition from Women’s Page Editor to Publisher.”
Monday, May 23, 2011
Entertainment Tonight has been in news a lot lately as Mary Hart leaves after 29 years. In many news stories, including this N.P.R. story, Hart is credited with discovering that there was news in entertainment.
The truth is that it was Jim Bellows was really the one who created a news focus for the entertainment show. (Prior to the 1990s, the show included investigative elements – different than the content today.) He was the one who hired Hart.
This is a quote from John Goldhammer: “John Bellows added his very special touch to every corner of Entertainment Tonight. He created an investigative team, establishing for the first time a truly unprecedented (and many times unwelcomed by ‘the biz’) dissection of problems inside the halls of the entertainment business. It is doubtful the series would have survived without his name, reputation, and skill brought to this new venture.”
As Bellows wrote in his book, The Last Editor, “Whether you are a TV show or a newspaper, you are still dealing with the same ingredient – news. I knew news.” (pg 252)
Prior to his tenure at E.T., he was a great supporter of women at the newspapers where he was an editor. In the 1960s, he was married to women’s page editor Maggie Savoy.
Friday, May 20, 2011
This is a NY Times review of the Joy of Cooking by Jane Nickerson. It is referenced in the book about the mother - and later daughter - who created the cookbook: Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Gave America The Joy of Cooking. Nickerson's review is credited with the initial success of the book.
I am currently working with a student on an independent study about Jane Nickerson - the first food editor of the New York Times. We are started by looking for references of Nickerson in the various book histories of the NY Times. Typically, the women's pages have been excluded in newspaper histories. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by finding references to Nickerson. If not, I will have even more reason to publish an article about her work.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I just finished reading the above book about the history of the Charlotte Observer. While there were some references to women’s pages, there was no references to the work of Miami Herald women’s page editor Dorothy Jurney who went to the Observer in the 1950s to improve its women’s section.
Here is the explanation from Jurney’s oral history:
Jurney: It was while I was at the Miami Herald that Lee Hills asked me to go, on three different occasions, to the Charlotte Observer after Jimmy Knight had bought it. It wasn't a very good newspaper. In fact, it didn't take me long after my first trip to Charlotte to realize that the composing room was running the editorial department, the news department. Deadlines were set by the composing room. As I recall, I don't think the newsroom of the Charlotte Observer was even dummying inside pages. I think the composing room decided where those stories were going to be. I have confidence that the Observer did indeed dummy—the editors dummied—the front page and the second front. I don't think—
Jurney: I think the composing room did it all. They just threw the stories onto those page forms where they fit most easily, with no significance as to the content. So I got in touch with Lee and told him this and he and Jimmy Knight very quickly sent Bill Sandlin—who was the foreman or superintendent of production for the Miami Herald—they sent Bill Sandlin up to Charlotte to get this straightened out and Bill got it straightened out very quickly.
Kasper: So that's an example of the kind of expertise that you were able to offer that made you important to these meetings.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: And made you important to the Knight organization—important enough that they sent you not only to these executive committee meetings, but around the country to various—
Jurney: And, in Charlotte, as I say, I was there on three different occasions, not of long duration, maybe only two to three weeks the first time, maybe four or five weeks the second and third time. I worked very closely with the women's editor. They only had society sections so that we tried to change that some.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
My paper, "Who’s Wearing the Pants? How The New York Times Reported the Changing Dress of Women," has just been published in the current issue of Media Report to Women.
The wearing of pants was a controversial topic, symbolizing the concern over the changing role of gender roles in society. For some people, pants were another step toward equality for women. For others pants meant losing femininity – almost to the point of androgyny. After all, “the meaning of clothing is culturally defined.” To learn more about the national conversation, the New York Times coverage over a 25-year period was examined through the newspaper’s database. Each article that came up with a search for “pants” or “trousers” that ran from 1950 through 1975, was examined.
In a women's page example, Fort Lauderdale News women’s page editor Edee Greene and her staff wore pants to work as their form of protest on August 26, 1970 - Women's Strike for Equality Day. I learned this in a letter that she wrote to Penney-Missouri Awards Director Paul Myhre
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I have been collecting information about Drue Lytle and Pat Hunter who were women's page journalists at the Honolulu Advertiser. Drue won several Penney-Missouri Awards for top women's section in the 1960s. Pat won a Penney-Missouri Award for investigative reporting.
I recently learned that the housekeeping column "Hints From Heloise" originated in Drue's section:
"Heloise has decided that she wanted to write a column in a newspaper for to help housewives, She marched to the office of the Honolulu Advertiser to see the editor to discuss her idea. She even offered to work for free for 30 days and the editor took a chance—The Readers’ Exchange column began in 1959. It was such a success by 1961 that Time magazine did an article on Heloise.
Later in 1961, King Features Syndicate convinced Heloise to syndicate her column with a new title, Hints from Heloise. By 1962 it was running in 158 newspapers and in 1964 it was appearing 593 newspapers in America and abroad."
I am hoping to interview the current "Heloise" (who is her daughter and shown above with her mother) about memories of the Advertiser in the 1960s.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The Associated Press has announced that the new stylebook includes a new section on food writing. According to the press release: "“With all the cooking shows, blogs and magazines focusing on food, as well as growing interest in organic and locally sourced foods, our new food section feels timely and on trend,” said Colleen Newvine, product manager of the AP Stylebook. “With this new addition to the AP Stylebook, The Associated Press is proud to bring clarity to the writing that describes and informs the new food movement.”
This information really dismisses the important role of one of the four Fs of the women's pages. (The other three are family, fashion and furnishings.) The food editors of women's pages were covering recipes and food news going back for decades prior to the introduction of the Food Network, Top Chef and food blogs.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I had the most pleasant surprise yesterday morning. I received an email with the subject line “Paul Myhre.” It was from his son.
I have been a Paul Myhre fan for at least a decade. He has been the center of my research as the one who brought the women I studied together. His letters back and forth to the women’s page editors – especially those in Florida – chronicled the struggles and the friendships that became the basis of my work. It also led me to love Florida while living in St. Louis. (Many of the Award winners were from Florida newspapers.)
Back in 2000, I was a doctoral student at the University of Maryland. My dissertation advisor Dr Maurine Beasley suggested that I study women’s pages – one of the only places for women in journalism for decades. She guided me to the archives at the National Women and Media Collection (NWMC) at the University of Missouri, which housed the papers of several women’s pages editors and the awards for the top women’s pages in the 1960s. The thought at that time was the women‘s pages were little more than fluff – simply reinforcing traditional messages that kept women in the home.
Yet, over the past decade I discovered and proved that these sections – and the women’s page editors – were much more complex than that. Yes, there were stories about food and fashion. Many of these women liked to cook and wear a colorful hat. Yet, they were also well aware of pay inequity and sexual harassment because they experienced that, too. Their sections reflected the mix of interests, or what I call quilted news. My dissertation told the story of three of these women. What I then realized was that there were many other women whose stories had not been told. I set out to change that.
So, back to Paul. He was the director of the Penney-Missouri Awards at the University of Missouri throughout the 1960s. Thanks to Nancy Beth Jackson, his papers were saved and given to the (NWMC) that was housed in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection in the Ellis Library. Paul’s papers were unprocessed – meaning that it was box after box of letters without any organization. During the five years that I was a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (suburban St. Louis), my husband and I made many trips to go through those papers. (And this is significant in that my husband is from Kansas and does not willingly go to the University of Missouri. Luckily, he understood the need to tell the stories found in those papers.)
I made so many trips to go through those papers that eventually the papers were processed – the archivists used my blog as a reference. Four years ago, the National Women and Media Collection – started by women’s page editor Marjorie Paxson – celebrated its 20 Anniversary and I was asked to speak at the celebration. This led to me interviewing for a job at Mizzou which then led me to interviewing for my current job at the University of Central Florida.
Paul, and his wife Mary, were central to the fight to improve the status of women in newspapers. Decades later, his papers allow me to tell their stories. I now must get to work telling Paul’s story.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I recently came across the 2008 obituary of Tucson women’s page editor Betty Milburn Schumacher.
According to her obituary:
"She was Woman’s View editor from 1950 to 1970. Under her guidance, the women’s section expanded its coverage from social news, fashion and food to coverage of women in politics, the feminist movement, and consumer and family issues.
Mrs. Schumacher wrote a social column for the section. She covered fashion shows in major cities around the country and also wrote for the newspaper from food conventions."
I hope to learn more about Betty and her women's section. That is her on the right in the above photo.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I just finished reading the 1971 cookbook Pot au Feu written by Arizona Republic food editor Dorothee Polson. (Pot au feu is French for "pot on the fire.") It's a great mixture of food stories, recipes and anecdotes about her three children. Much of women's page content consisted of food news and family columns.
One of the columns in the book is "Working Mother Makes Rules." She notes, "I happen to be one of those statistics, the 1-of-every-3 homemakers who hold jobs; the 1-out-of-5 mothers who juggle careers."
In the column, she gives advice on her rules for combining work and newspapering. This was my favorite tips was: "Forget schedules. Take it one crisis at a time."
We are going to try the recipe for "Paul's Salad Dressing" later this week.
Dorothee is one of the many food editors I am collecting information about.
In other news, this is the THIRD ANNIVERSARY of this blog! Thanks to all of you who read it.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The State Journal-Register featured the above photo on its blog this week, along with the following information:
"It was a different era in 1958. Different enough, in fact, that newspapers frequently cordoned off “women’s news” from the rest of the paper in special sections.
Today’s photo comes from such a section in the Illinois State Register on March 13, 1958. Pictured is dental assistant Carol Kornfeld. Carol was the Register’s “Beauty of the Week,” said the headline below the picture. A note from the Register women’s page editor, Margaret Turnbull, says this is the second in a series. We’re not sure how long this tradition continued.
Other headlines from that day’s Register women’s section include, “Menu Tips and Tricks for the Working Wife,” “Women’s Group Names Hostesses for Reception” and “Sandra McKeever Becomes Bride of Jerry W. Beaver.” Yes, things have changed."
There is no question that some women's pages focused on tradition, physical beauty, etc. Yet, I wonder if there was some progressive content mixed in, too. That has been the case in so many newspapers that Lance and I have studied.
Another way of looking at this photo is to note that it featured a woman in the workforce. Maybe this served as an important role model for a young reader.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Lance and I learned that our paper, "A False Start, a Heavy Burden and Hugs: A Study of the Female “Firsts” in Newspaper Management" has been accept by the Commission on the Status of Women of AEJMC.
We looked at the careers of three women: Gloria Biggs as the first female publisher of her non-family owned newspaper in 1973, Carol Sutton as managing editor of a major metropolitan newspaper in 1974 and Janet Chusmir as executive editor of a major metropolitan newspaper in 1987. Their stories are important to understand how progress was made and how it was slowed. It also provides perspectives about the different paths to newspaper management for women. Lastly, the media coverage demonstrated that the role of gender continued to be a news value long after “firsts” had been achieved in other industries.
All three journalists were women's page editors before being promoted to management. Both Carol and Janet were also mothers.
We're looking forward to presenting the paper in St. Louis in August.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Several women's page journalists were mothers, including Vivian Castleberry, Edee Greene, Jane Nickerson and Dorothee Polson. They each had at least three children while also working as journalists. This was at a time when there was no daycare or maternity leave. These women had to pave their own ways as working mothers.
A special recognition of my favorite toddler who loves pudding. He is taking his mother to the beach today. Happy Mother's Day!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Rosie Napravnik (pictured above) hopes to become the first woman to win the Kentucky Derby today.
Napravnik will be aboard Pants on Fire, on whom she won the Louisiana Derby.
Five women have ridden in the Kentucky Derby -- the last was Rosemary Homeister in 2003 -- but none has finished in the top 10.
Napravnik already has made some history. She's the first female jockey to win the Louisiana Derby and the Fair Grounds riding title, finishing first on 110 of her 482 mounts to far outpace closest competitor James Graham (76 of 539).
Louisville is home to another important first: Carol Sutton.
Carol was a groundbreaking women's page editor at the Louisville Courier Journal who became the first woman to become the managing editor of a major metropolitan daily newspaper. That position landed her on the cover of Time Magazine in 1975 - one of several "women of the year." My article about Carol ran in American Journalism last year. She is a favorite research subject.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Another significant fashion editor was NY Herald Tribune Fashion Editor Eugenia Sheppard.
This is how she is described in the above book, The Paper: "With the introduction in 1956 of her thrice-weekly column, 'Inside Fashion,' Sheppard revolutionized the journalism of style by adjusting its focus from inanimate fabric to the people who designed and wore it. ... By deciding whom and what to write about she could create a whole new pattern of social commentary."
She is mentioned in several Time Magazine articles about fashion in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is one example
These are two of her more well-known quotes:
"It's all terribly cute, but like giving a girl candy when she craves steak."
"Pretty sexy for a tall girl, but it may make a short one disappear altogether."
Since 1987, the Eugenia Sheppard Award for journalism has been given yearly by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
My last few posts have been food journalism although fashion journalism was also an important part of the women's pages. One of the most significant fashion reporters of the 1960s and early 1970s was Marian Christy. She started at the Boston Globe in April 1965 and her work was later picked up by the syndicate U.P.I. Her work then ran in 104 different newspapers. She won Penney-Missouri Awards in 1966, 1968 and 1970. That is Christy sitting in the chair above at a Penney-Missouri Award ceremony. Bobbi McCallum is the Seattle women's page journalist standing in the lace pantsuit.
Christy took a progressive, sociological approach to fashion - rather than writing for advertisers.
For example, she described the see-through blouse from a late-1960s Saint Laurent fashion show: "Haute couture is a laboratory for new ideas. Saint Laurent was not advocating public near-nudity. It was poetic exaggeration to shock the eyes. Once you see the extreme overstatements, watered-down versions seem reasonable and palatable. This was the late sixties and Saint Laurent seemed to be suggesting that women's bodied should be unharnessed."
In 1979, she was basically forced out of fashion reporting because of complaints from two Boston fashion retailers. They wanted her to promote what was in the department stores that was really more about advertising. She was called into her editor's office and told she had a choice. She could begin pandering to the stores or not be a fashion reporter anymore. She left her beat to focus on interviews with celebrities instead. That story is in her book, Invasions of Privacy.
Here is an interview with Christy.
I am collecting the names of significant fashion journalists of the 1960s and 1970s.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I just got this 1930 Milwaukee Journal cookbook, Kitchen Treasures, from eBay. It was produced by the Milwaukee Journal Housewives Institute. There were some interesting recipes in the book that go counter to much of culinary history. There were some rather exotic sounding recipes for the pre-World War II years. Also, there were exact measurements (specific tablespoons, for example) versus a "dash of this."
Here is more about the book.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Jacksonville journalist Jessie-Lynne Kerr died this week. She is another example of a great reporter who got her start in the women's pages. From her obituary:
"On Dec. 7, 1959, she began work as a reporter for the women’s section of the daily paper.
Most of her work was representative of the women’s pages of the day. She would write up weddings, put together the food page, report on charity galas. But on Dec. 16, 1960, during a driving snow storm, two planes collided over Staten Island. Her car was equipped with snow tires and chains, so she was sent to the scene to cover her first hard news story.
“It was my baptism of gore,” she told the Financial News in an interview published in March. “You had burning flesh hanging from the trees, and pieces of Christmas paper. It was just very, very depressing, and I was all of about 21 years old. That was hard on me. I didn’t sleep for days.”
Mrs. Kerr spent about three years at the Advance before she and her husband, Bruce Kerr, a musician and aspiring screenwriter, moved to Neptune Beach in 1963.
At the time, she was pregnant with their first son, Adam. A second son, Jason, now a Jacksonville firefighter, was born in 1969.
The Kerrs relocated to the Jacksonville area to get away from New York’s high cost of living. Initially, her mother-in-law helped them with the $80-a-month rent. But early in 1964 she announced she wouldn’t help anymore. So Mrs. Kerr applied for a job with the Times-Union and was hired, becoming the only woman working on the newspaper’s Metro staff when she went to work on March 9, 1964."
There are so many great examples of women who started their careers in the women's pages and then went on to the news side as society changed in the 1960s. In Kerr's case, it was covering the courthouse. A judge once told Kerr that she knew “more about what went on in the courthouse than any lawyer or judge.”