Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Women's Magazines. Editorial Practices and Cultural Recommendations1

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Women's Magazines. Editorial Practices and Cultural Recommendations1

Article excerpt


Inspired by the Hollywood movie The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Romanian researcher Romina Surugiu states that "choosing an unimportant garment is more than a personal decision, it's a cultural gesture" (Surugiu 2012, p. 18) encouraged and guided by women's magazines. Reflecting on this observation, one comes to question the nature of the decisions regarding the choice of literature, movies, concerts and other cultural activities that we engage in. Therefore, this paper deals with the issues of glossy women's magazines' cultural recommendations and news found in "Lifestyle" or permanent sections.

The author of this study has chosen to analyze women's press as part of the media culture (Kellner 2001), capable of offering insight into contemporary society and, more specifically, female consumers which make up the readership of this particular press category. For the purpose of this analysis, women's magazines are considered an indicator of taste and lifestyle choice of their readers and also one of the cultural identities of said public.

Even from their beginnings, women's magazines have been conceived as advice handbooks for survival in a patriarchal culture (Storey 2009, p. 153). They keep this function to this day as they represent a merger of entertainment and useful advice reflecting the aspirations, yearnings and interests of women while the cultural sections are the monthly cultural allowance dedicated to their readers. The points to be clarified in this analysis are: 1) Who composes the readership of the two publications chosen in this paper?, 2) What sort of cultural news and recommendations do Romanian glossy magazines offer their readers? 3) How are these offered?, 4) What are the differences between the two magazines on this point in relation to their assumed vision of their readership?

In order to answer these questions, the author has chosen two glossy women's magazines with quite a history in Romania. On the one hand, there is Avantaje magazine, the first western-model magazine to appear in post-communist Romania in 1995. It is an IPC Media (Essentialis, UK) franchise edited by The Romanian Publishing Group which has been very successful on the local market and continues to be one of the main players in this media sector (Surugiu 2012, p. 32). On the other hand, we have Unica magazine, a local, successful title, launched two years after Avantaje, in 1997. Today both magazines are owned by the same media corporation - Ringier Romania - disputing with other local and international competitors a young, well educated and well off audience with high expectations (Surugiu 2012, p. 32).

Women's magazines - a product of media culture

In the view of Douglas Kellner (2001), media culture contributes to the creation of a common culture intrinsic to a majority of individuals in many parts of the world, as it delivers materials needed to create identities through which individuals become a part of the techno-capitalist society. This form of culture is defined as an industrial culture, organized along the lines of mass production and intended for a large audience, divided by genre, which follows conventional formulas, codes and lines (Kellner 2001, p. 13). Media culture needs to resonate with current themes and preoccupations as this type of culture is of high actuality, offering hieroglyphs of contemporary social life (Kellner 2001, p. 13). The same author subsumes to this culture the radio, television, cinematography, newspapers and magazines and other cultural industry products which have a role in modeling our perception of the world and its fundamental values. As previously stated, focus will now be shifted towards a special category of media culture aimed at the female public - glossy magazines.

Women's press is composed of publications which claim to be "dedicated to a female clientele and whose surveys indicate that their faithful readers are in fact women". (Cayrol 1991, p. …

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