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Faculty of Communication SciencesUniversity of Tampere The School of Communication, Media and Theatre COMET
COMET - Tampere Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Communication

Women’s Magazine as a Place of Publicity and Journalism

Women's magazine is both a loved and a controversial journalistic product. On one hand, it has always had a large readership, and its popularity is growing among male readers. On the other hand, women's magazine journalists feel they do not get enough appreciation for their work from the journalists outside their particular journalistic genre.

At the beginning of the 20th century in Finland, the few existing women’s magazines still enjoyed prestige. In the 1960s, however, the situation in the media field began to change drastically. Television took over, magazine concepts became varied, readership grew, celebrity culture emerged and the social climate radicalized. Women's magazines attracted ever stronger criticism, and in some circles reading them was even considered to be in bad taste.

Readers have seen it differently and chosen their side by subscribing to a magazine or buying a copy. However, since reading magazines has not been seen as an act contributing to civic matters but an act of consumption, there has not been any need to question, or even explain, women’s magazines’ low appreciation among the cultural elite or its neglect as a research subject. Reading women’s magazines, and choosing them as a research subject has always required a detailed statement of reasons – unlike, for example, general interest magazines, which in part compete for very similar contents.

The research project at hand seeks to break this evaluative arrangement. It brings the women's magazine and its workers to the fore and asks; what is women's magazine and how does it function? In addition to the professional self-understanding of journalists, the project examines the Finnish women's magazine as a public place and a journalistic product. Journalism’s conception of citizenship is considered especially from the point of view of the women’s magazine.

The research project asks how today’s women’s magazine journalism compares to earlier times, how women’s magazine workers see themselves as journalists, and how they see their own product and its role as a public place. The research data consists of focus interviews of women's magazine journalists and a content analysis of three women’s magazines spanning the last four decades. The analyses of both data are tied to each other.

In short, the research questions are as follows:

1)      Does women’s magazine exist for its makers as a specific journalistic publicity and an object of professional identification? How are women’s magazine’s status and value determined in culture in general and especially in journalistic culture? Is this discernible in the development of magazines in the last 40 years?

2)      How have magazines functioned as public places in different times? What kinds of journalistic forms have been used in different times and what kinds of topics magazines have covered, especially in personal interviews? How is this related to the times?

3)      What kinds of tensions, conflicts and changes can be detected for example in the conventions and forms of journalistic discussion? How do the interviewees identify women’s magazine journalism’s relation to news journalism and to the on-going change in journalism?

4)      What do the interviews tell about the way or method women’s magazines observe the world and produce readings of it? How have the magazines discussed issues? What aspects have they highlighted in issues and how? What kind of ‘knowing of the world’ does it suggest?

5)      What is the future of women’s magazine journalism?

The theme interviews focus on weekly magazines, such as Anna, Cosmopolitan, Eeva, Gloria, Kauneus ja terveys, Kodin kuvalehti, Kotiliesi, Me Naiset and Sara. The aim of the interviews is to produce information about how the magazine exists for its journalists, how understanding of this is linked to women's magazine as an evolving journalistic product and as an object of cultural valuations.

The content analysis concentrates on: Kotiliesi (1922–, United Magazines Ltd.), Eeva (1934–, A-lehdet) and Me Naiset (1952–, Sanoma Magazines). From each magazine a sample has been taken at 10-year intervals spanning from 1968 to 2008. The sample sheds light on how the journalistic look and composition of women’s magazines have changed in the last 40 years. A more detailed analysis is conducted on the magazines' personal interviews, their topics, perspectives and the journalistic style.

The results of the study will be reported at the end of 2010. In addition, a seminar on the topic will be held in Helsinki.

Contact person:

Iiris Ruoho

Tel. +358 3 3551 6245


Helsingin Sanomat Foundation

Duration: 2010-2011

Post address: Tampere Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Communication, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Visiting address: Kalevantie 4, E-Wing,(3 rd floor)
Maintained by:
Last update: 11.10.2011 8.18 Muokkaa

University of Tampere
+358 3 355 111

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