Monday, December 04, 2006

Sure, this isn't religion, but...

Women do not like to read.

This according to the Wall Street Journal, which is implementing changes next year in order to make itself more attractive to women. The executive vice-president of Dow Jones (which publishes WSJ), L. Gordon Crovitz, says that the paper will be using more summary boxes, more colorful graphics, and an easier to read font. It will also have "more headlines with words like 'will and 'why' in the headlines," according to Crovitz (yes, he needed to repeat "headlines" for emphasis). Crovitz further explained that "women... seem especially enthusiastic about the format." CBS is covering this exciting development (here) and naturally couldn't resisit peppering their online article with inane and unnecessary metaphors about the WSJ geting a "facelift," etc, etc. CBS seems to think the changes are a good idea, since they found women readers of the WSJ to say the changes were good, and male readers of the WSJ willing to say that the changes were unwanted.

So there you have it. Women need more point-form summaries and graphics if we expect them to understand the complex topics that the male readers of the leading business press have been pondering for generations. Incidentally, there's also a Woman's Wall Street here, which has no relation to the WSJ but exists "to help women... manage their" investments, and whose CEO, fittingly, is a man. Because even if their husband isn't around, women do need a man's guidance to keep their affairs in order.

The WSJ's real concern is the amount of paper they're using - Dow Jones says they're going to save $18 million a year, which is a tidy sum in an industry that's taking heavy bombardment for the ubiquitous free news available over the Internet. So the appeal to women as the new financial investor seems a little crass. (CBS noted that the LA Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today are also cutting in similar fashion, but didn't say whether their corporate executives also blamed the need to downsize the paper on the idiosyncrasies of female readers.) However, this attempt at reaching out to women seems like a parody of equity to me. And it's not just the WSJ who's guilty.

Let's run through the list. The WSJ needs to be thinned down so that the fairer sex can read it comfortably. Women need special advice so that they will be able to manage their investments as well as men (incidentally, the last three press releases on the site are, in reverse chronological order, "Valentine's Day: What Women Really Want"; "Survey reveals Top Five New Year's Resolutions"; and "Women reveal their holiday spending 'cents'"). My home province, British Columbia, has a Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, because apparently health, employment, education, finance, and the environment are not, in fact, issues for women. What the intangible "women's issues" are remains as mysterious as why women can't read a real newspaper article.

The WSJ should call its cost-cutting measure exactly what it is, and people should stop paying lip service to equity by creating inane, patronizing figureheads.

Thus spake Reverend Dave.


the irreverent seraph said...

Youre saying the conservative elites in America are being patronizing and sexist...oh say it aint so...might as well have asked Micheal Jackson to stop adjusting his balls on stage.

So long as we can keep the girl power brigade concerned with holiday shopping, more inventive sex and celebrity eating disorders we can retain our divine culture of self-aggrandizement and hypocrisy.

God Bless America

Anonymous said...
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Skezik said...

Argh! Stupid generic spam messages!