Is It A Man's Newspaper? p. 19

By: Mark Fitzgerald Ex-Gannett exec Nancy Woodhull says newspaper coverage that appeals to women lags behind coverage that appeals to men sp.

THERE'S A REALLY simple reason that newspaper readership by women continues to slump, consultant Nancy Woodhull said recently.
"Think of women as a suburb you don't cover very well," she told members at the annual meeting of the Inland Press Association in Chicago.
"If your newspaper didn't cover a suburb, it wouldn't surprise you that readership is not there. So why are we surprised when women are buying us less and less?" said Woodhull, a former Gannett Co. Inc. executive who heads Nancy Woodhull & Associates Inc. in Pittsford, N.Y.
Female readership is dropping faster than readership among men, Woodhull said.
In 1970, male-female readership levels were virtually identical: 78% of adult women and 77% of adult men were likely to have read a daily paper on any given weekday.
By 1990, however, regular daily readership among adult males had declined to 64.5% and female readership had declined more precipitously to 60.5%.
Despite years of special efforts to attract women readers, newspapers continue to turn off females in several areas of coverage, Woodhull argued.
Consider newspaper business sections.
"We constantly talk of the sports pages as being the last bastion of male domination. But it really is the business pages," Woodhull said.
Even a determined newspaper reader would never guess that 60% of new investors on Wall Street are women, she said.
And newspapers routinely ignore a fast-growing work place for women: the office in the home, she added.
Woodhull told Inland publishers that research debunks the myth that women do not like "bad news," such as crime reports. What they want is crime news that tracks progress on crimes, she said. What women don't want is "voyeuristic" crime news that leaves them feeling helpless.
In crime news ? just as on the business pages ? women need to feel that their newspaper is on their side, Woodhull said.
"Show that you are my friend and that you have contacts [with me] . . . so I can make better decisions," she said women are saying.
But when newspapers do create editorial products that attract women ? such as the successful WomeNews in the Chicago Tribune or AzW in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix ? too often they are published on Sunday, the one day that women already are consistent newspaper readers.
Instead, these features should be heavily promoted Sundays but published during the week to draw women back to the daily paper, Woodhull said.
Women are willing to read ? and make time to read, she said.
Despite the plunge in newspaper readership levels, women's television viewing continues to increase, the majority of local TV news viewers are women, and women buy most of the books in the country, she noted.
A Woodhull survey recently asked women what they would do if they had an extra hour in the day.
"The majority says read," Woodhull reported, "but not read a newspaper."


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