I’ve been talking to my brother. He is a journalist too.
He reckons we are cursed by a desire to find out how things work. Not in a “take-the-drill-to-bits” kind of way, but a need to figure out how society works, the court system, schools and the media itself.
I like to think that I know how women’s magazines work, I’ve been reading them long enough. I picked up my first copy of Cosmopolitan when I was in Primary school.
Back then the human interest stories were all about housewives who had had enough of ironing their husbands’ shirts and had decided to get a business degree and become the CEO of a hugely succesful company.
Then it changed and the CEO women were all pining for some work life balance and had begun to downshift to the country. One even started a baby food company from her kitchen table, or was that a film with Diane Keaton?
Now you are most likely to read about a woman with a fascinating job in publishing who has also decided to set up her own mime company while training to do stone therapy. (Is she just unhappy do you think?)
The thing is, the magazine is telling us a ‘story’ about women’s lives. This may not fit in with you and what you are doing at all, it may not even be true but this is the story du jour and while that prevails that is the story they will be running.
If you want to use the media you have a choice.
Tell the story you want to tell, (you have unprecedented access to free publishing e.g. blogs) or ride the wave of current trends and fit in with the current story being told.
Either way is perfectly valid, the choice is yours but it helps to understand how the system works.