Specialized section targets women

Research shows us that for some years now female readers have been leaving newspapers in increasing numbers.But while these women usually say they are 'too busy' to read the newspaper, they continue to support women's magazines and have the numbers and...

Research shows us that for some years now female readers have been leaving newspapers in increasing numbers.

But while these women usually say they are ‘too busy’ to read the newspaper, they continue to support women’s magazines and have the numbers and financial clout to keep books on so-called women’s topics on the top of the best-seller list (Gloria Steinem’s Revolution from Within and Germain Greer’s The Change come to mind.)

We concluded that a major reason women were leaving newspapers was that there was not enough in the newspaper of interest to them.

The WomanNews section was designed to change that – to bring female readers back to The Gazette.

We looked at the research on Gazette occasional women readers to come up with a profile of the women we wished to reach: between the ages of 18-54, more than 30% with French as a mother tongue, more than 50% in the work force, 15% homemakers, 60% college-educated.


Stress is a major factor in their lives, especially because most of them are juggling roles in the workplace, as parents and as homemakers.

We tried to create a section to which two slogans could be applied: a place where they would find things ‘just for them’ and where they could get ‘news they could use.’

The idea was that they could find stories about themselves ‘as women,’ without any of the traditional advice on how to cook, look after children or clean the house.

We stayed away from the movie-star front page story or the full-color fashion spread.

We decided to concentrate on news, and on trying to find a fresh approach to the issues we thought would be of concern to women.

It is important to have women feel that they can see themselves reflected in the section, that it speaks to them.

The challenge is to provide lots of news, both serious and light, to reach anglophone and francophone women as well as women in Montreal’s cultural communities, women climbing the corporate ladder, as well as women who simply go to work to earn a living, or stay at home to care for children, and to cover an age range from youth to seniors (the 54 age limit was thrown out the window when older readers responded in force.)

A bright, highly formatted section was designed, where, for convenience, certain types of stories would be found every week in the same place.

On Page 1, national, international and local news items, a cover story that interprets or follows up some ongoing news story, a profile of a local woman, a bit of humorous news.

On Page 2, a calendar for the week and survival guide, a how-to informational graphic (on osteoporosis, how to buy a car, etc.)

Feature story

A feature story on Page 3 describes the turning point in a woman’s life, and, at the same time, allows us to focus on an issue (i