Ever since Port magazine deemed that the “New Golden Age” of magazines is being pioneered by six men, it raised many questions about the gender gap in the publishing world and whether or not women’s magazines engage in serious journalism.
ELLE’s editor in chief Robbie Myers promptly released an editor’s note that responded, “Yes, Women’s Magazine’s Can Do Serious Journalism. In Fact, We’ve Been Doing It For A While,” that further ignited the conversation using some of her magazine’s lengthier, harder-hitting stories as proof of its veracity.
When CNN’s Reliable Sources, a segment dedicated to journalism, hosted a debate on the matter, Myers and Janet Reitman, an investigative journalist and contributing editor for Rolling Stone (where Myers’ career began), were tapped to participate. Reitman earned her place at the table by once saying, “I was never going to be a ‘chick’ you know, doing ‘chick stories,'” and that “the reality is, and continues to be, that the women who write those stories are ghettoized into the women’s magazine ghetto.” Naturally, you’d expect the claws to come out between the two, and while both women remained collected throughout the discussion, the tension was palpable.
When asked about her controversial comments, Reitman initially approached the matter with caution, but eventually let fly with this:
“I would hate to be seen as dissing women’s magazines, because first of all, I worked for them for a little while at ELLE. I’ve written for them. I appreciate them and I read them. And I do think they do fantastic journalism and a lot of my friends who still write for them do quite well. […] I think that there are some women who can not break out. That they either ghettoize themselves or they just literally cannot somehow make it to write for larger men’s magazine or general interest magazines.”
After Reitman laid it all out, and there was some additional back-and-forth between the women, host Howard Kurtz asked Myers if she found the issue at hand offensive to her readers, to which Myers responded:
“I find it sad that we’re still talking about women as kind-of a whole separate group of people, number one, and number two that all women’s magazines are the same and that maybe it is that those writers that don’t break out are part of the women’s magazine—I won’t call it a ghetto—that maybe aren’t as good of writers.”
We have to say that we were disappointed that a female journalist as accomplished as Reitman, and one who has broken through the glass ceiling into the boys club that is Rolling Stone, would take such a harsh stance when it comes to women’s-interest magazines and the women who run them. She could have approached the issue in a way that didn’t appear critical or discrediting to writers whose work has appeared in ELLE, or any other publications like it, rather calling attention to an industry in which the next great leaders all happen to be men, and what we, as women should be doing about that. Why not help the cause instead of making it appear as women themselves are torn on the matter?
Watch the entire conversation below, and be sure to let us know where you stand.