Thursday, June 28, 2012
I posted this video about Edee Greene - women's page editor at the Fort Lauderdale News in the 1960s - on YouTube a few years ago. Last week someone posted the following under the video: "Thank you so much for this. I knew Edee- she as a major influence in my life- mentored my writing career and was a very close and dear friend of my mother's.from the Fort Lauderdale News." Edee was one of my favorite subjects to write about. She was smart, witty and kind. She won several Penney-Missouri Awards over the years.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I sad to read that writer Nora Ephron died yesterday. While she is best known for her films, she was also a great food writer. Here is a great column about how she included food in her work.The writer notes: "But as was Ephron's style, her personal stories were most often the stuff of inspiration. So it was with food, which not-so-subtly crept its way into her work. In 1975, she penned "Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women." Her 1983 novel,Heartburn, which was adapted into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson three years later, features a food writer protagonist who works at a New York magazine. The novel itself is flecked with recipes."
Here is a link to one of her books which includes her classic essay about the food establishment.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I found this great blog post about fashion journalist Eugenia Sheppard from the Fashion School Daily at the Academy of Art. This is part of the post:
"Ms. Sheppard was an American fashion journalist and newspaper columnist, credited with revolutionizing fashion reporting during her time at the New York Herald Tribune. She reported on all of the major designers, as well as the up-and-coming ones, and was known for her “personalized approach to fashion and her ability to spot trends even before the trend-setters realized they were setting them” (NY Times). And she always said exactly what she felt, making for some very memorable remarks."
I am collecting information about Eugenia for a paper on fashion journalism.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I am almost done writing a book chapter for a book about gossip. The book will be called: When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States History. Here is more about it.
My chapter is an examination of the role of gossip in the women’s pages of newspapers in the 1950s and 1960s, looking at a political column, an advice column and society and wedding news. In doing so, the concept of “quilted news,” a mix of soft and hard news is introduced. What this quilted approach reveals is how the race and gender roles were changing in the 1950s and 1960s which was clearly reflected in the women's pages. Social change occurred because of marches and demonstrations. It was also a matter of integrating wedding announcements and neighborhoods. The chapter begins with background information about the women’s pages of newspapers and an explanation of hard versus soft news and hard news within the journalism industry.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Yay! My 2011 AEJMC paper, "The Wizard of the Women’s Pages: Raising the Curtain on Paul Myhre, the Man Behind the Penney-Missouri Awards and the Network of Women It Fostered" is going to be published in next year's American Journalism journal. As director of the Penney-Missouri Awards, Paul Myhre was a significant figure in raising the standards for and promoting women's pages. Above is my Paul wearing the cute onsie sent by the son of baby Paul's namesake.
I loved this book, Overdressed, about the economy, history and the sociology of fashion. It is well written and strongly researched. The author touches on several issues that relate to the women's pages. For example, she wrote about the increased consumption of cheap clothes or "fast fashion." In part, this is because so few people sew now. Sewing clothes used to be so common place that women's pages would include sewing patterns.
I am working on revisions for an article about fashion editor Eleni Epstein and will be including information from this book. I plan to write about fashion writer Eugenia Sheppard in the fall.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Bridal News in the Women's Pages
As researcher Erika Engstrom noted in her work: “Published gossip in the form of wedding announcements thus provides a record of social life.”[i] And those announcements and accompanying stories have a long history. According to a book about the media and weddings: “The appeal of weddings as news finds its origins as far back as written news has existed. In addition to their newsworthiness, accounts of weddings of the politically important or of popular movie stars have included gossipy details of the most intricate and minute aspects.”[ii] In the 1940s, scholars looked to the weddings announcements of the New York Times to evaluate the role of high society and noted the role of women in women’s clubs and their wealth. They found, for example, that 65 percent of brides were members of the elite Junior League and that the education level of the bride was less important that the groom’s educational status.[iii] By the 1980s and 1990s, researchers used New York Times wedding announcements to determine the role of the women’s liberation movement and the commonality of women keeping their maiden names.[iv] In 1997, the New York Times published a collection of its recent wedding columns. The Times’ wedding reporter noted: “It became clear that while writing about weddings, I could cover any subject from first kisses to family values in the 1990s. It could be a combination of anthropology, gossip, fashion, psychology, home economics and dreams.”[v]
What has not been examined is the more subtle change about society that wedding news contained, especially at newspapers beyond the New York Times. Using a social history approach, this is an examination of wedding announcements at metropolitan newspapers – other than the New York Times – demonstrated changing attitudes about race and social class. It includes several newspapers in South Florida. The shift in coverage of weddings signaled a change in who was important enough to cover and in doing so, who had value in the pages of a newspaper.
Like many young women starting in journalism in the 1940s, Colleen “Koky” Dishon became the Society Editor of the Zanesville Times Recorder. After all, most women were restricted to the women’s pages of newspapers until the late 1960s and early 1970s. In her job, Dishon, who went on to become the first woman to have her name on the masthead of the Chicago Tribune, covered the traditional fare of births and brides. The editor Al Gonder showed her how to take a wedding at a local baseball diamond and write about it in a creative way (the groom was getting a “good catch”) so that it would be placed on the front page. She recalled of the time: “It wasn’t Hemingway, but that didn’t matter. The lesson was that there were stories in ordinary events and that readers care about the rituals of life.”[vi] One of Dishon’s later scoops while at the Chicago Daily News newspaper was getting into the exclusive Jay Rockefeller-Sharon Percy wedding.[vii] She got her reporter into the event by having an expert create a counterfeit invitation to the wedding.
[i] Erika Engstrom, The Bride Factory: Mass Media Portrayals of Women and Weddings (New York: Peter Lang, 2012), 65.
[ii] Erika Engstrom, The Bride Factory: Mass Media Portrayals of Women and Weddings (New York: Peter Lang, 2012), 78.
[iii] David L Hatch and Mary A. Hatch, “Criteria of Social Status as Derived from the Marriage Announcements in the New York Times, American Sociological Review, August 1947, 396-403.
[v] Lois Smith Brady, Vow: Weddings of the Nineties from the New York Times (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1997), v.
[vi] Colleen Dishon, “Newspapers Were a Lot More Exciting Than College,” ASNE Bulletin, November 1992, 26.
[vii] “Pages for Women,” Time magazine, May 19, 1967.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Slate posted an article today about the death of cookbooks. I don't quite buy the author's premise but we have seen a significant shift in how cookbooks have changed - especially in who writes them.
For many years, the food editors of newspapers (found in the women's pages) would write and/or edit cookbooks - examples include Jane Nickerson, Dorothee Paulson and Peggy Daum. Jeanne Voltz wrote several cookbooks while at the Miami Herald and then the Los Angeles Times.
Other than the New York Times, few newspapers publish cookbooks anymore. I interviewed cookbook author Jean Anderson a few years ago who said that today, publishers are only interested in cookbooks by celebrity chefs. Another revenue source for newspapers has been lost.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Salon posted an interesting story today about the economy of fashion - particularly "cheap chic." The article begins: "The average American buys 64 pieces of clothing a year. That’s more new tank tops and jeggings than there are weeks in which to wear them. And we buy those items, often, with the tacit understanding that the pullover purchased in January isn’t going to make it to Christmas — or even spring equinox. Elizabeth L. Kline has one such typical American wardrobe. As she admits in her new book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” an eye-opening exploration of our mania for bargain-basement fashion."
The article includes a Q & A with the book's author in which she cites the time period that I focus on:
"Well, in the ’50s and ’60s you could walk into a department store and get something beautiful and durable. Then there was really a dead zone and a transition in the retail industry. When these fashionable discounters came along, it looked like we had arrived in some fashion nirvana. These huge corporate clothing chains have put a lot of money on the concept that cheap is chic and it’s cool."
Those department stores that dominated fashion looks were also the ones who paid for numerous ads each week in the women's pages - and later the feature/lifestyle sections. As those department stores lost their dominance, newspapers lost that advertising revenue.
I have pre-ordered the book and will use it on our revise-and-resubmit about Washington Star fashion editor Eleni Epstein.
Monday, June 11, 2012
I am working on an abstract today about the coverage of brides in the women's pages for the 2013 Florida Conference of Historians: "Not All Brides Are Wealthy and White: The Integration of the Women’s Pages in 1960s Florida and Across the Country." This is what it is about:
In her critique of society coverage, New York Times women’s page editor Charlotte Curtis noted sarcastically that not all brides were beautiful. While they may not have been attractive, the brides who were considered newsworthy for decades did typically have two things in common – they were white and wealthy. (The photos showed the race of the women and their place in the city’s society was dictated by the size of the photo.) Yet, change was coming by the 1960s as progressive women’s page editors fought to change traditional practices. At metropolitan newspapers across the country, black brides and those from working class families began to appear in the wedding section. This was also true in Florida – most noticeably at the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald and the Fort Lauderdale News. This paper is the story of the women and their sections and how they opened the door to a previously ignored part of society.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
I was so excited to receive copies from the Penney-Missouri Award papers about Milwaukee Journal women's page reporter Lois Hagen. They are available at the Historical Society of Missouri.
|This is my favorite part of the Awards' papers: the biographies written by the winners. It is interesting to see how they describe themselves.|
|I also like the great pictures included in the Awards' papers. (I like that Lois is wearing gloves - I hope to write about the end of the white glove era one day.)|
|This is a letter from the Awards' Director Paul Myhre to Lois. He often exchanged letters with the women's page editors which has helped me understand the history of these journalists and their work.|
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
It was announced today that science fiction writer Ray Bradbury died. He was a friend of women's page editor Maggie Savoy.
Above is the memorial book that Maggie's husband Jim Bellows published when Maggie died in 1970. It is filled with tributes from many well-known people - including Bradbury. He wrote of her: "She was a tall woman, with a soul to match; there was nothing I ever saw that was small or mean. Everything in her expanded and went forth. She gave, and she encompassed with the same gesture." (pg 7)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Today I ordered the papers of Milwaukee Journal women's page journalist Lois Hagen from the Penney-Missouri Awards file at the Missouri Historical Society. Hagen covered several areas - I am most interested in her work in furnishings, one of the four Fs of the women's pages. I am working on a large piece on the Milwaukee women's pages of the 1950s and 1960s as a case study that re-evaluated the value of the section.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Elizabeth, the wonderful archivist at the Historical Society of Missouri, recently informed me that the papers of Miami Herald women's page editor Marie Anderson have been indexed. They can be found in the National Women & Media Collection. I was happy to get the news - Marie saved everything and there is a lot of valuable material about women's pages. (Marie is the one seated in the photo above. Roberta Applegate is the one standing.)
My article about Marie Anderson was published in Spring 2007.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
A belated Happy 90th Birthday to one of my favorite women's page editors - Vivian Castleberry. My article about her years as the Dallas Times Herald came out in 2007. It is available here.
My priority is to to complete my book about Viviab this summer/early fall. She is truly a special person in many, many ways.
My priority is to to complete my book about Viviab this summer/early fall. She is truly a special person in many, many ways.