Don’t stop the presses!

When Jill Abramson was named executive editor of the New York Times in September this year, she promptly denied that having a woman editor in charge shaped news coverage.

“The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true,” she told Arthur S. Brisbane, the Times’ public editor.

This may be a moot point, but the reality is that in the past two years over half a dozen major news organisations, including the Financial Times, have increased their coverage of women’s issues, citing dollars and cents, rather than sensibility.

Forbes launched ForbesWoman in spring 2009 as a supplement to the regular edition. Although the print magazine didn’t survive the recession, both page views and unique users at Forbeswoman.com have grown month-on-month since the site launched in April 2009, according to ForbesWoman.com editor Caroline Howard, with average traffic currently at around 4.5m-5m page views per month. She said:

“We recognised early on that there was a very robust audience. There are more women in professional fields, more women at higher rungs and more women entrepreneurs. For financial publications especially, not to notice this is bad business.”

The Financial Times was a fellow frontrunner, launching its Women at the Top project the same year. Focusing on women’s achievements in business, each year the FT publishes its Top 50 Women in World Business ranking magazine, as well as regular pages in the main paper and a daily blog.

Bloomberg News has doubled its quarterly number of women-focused stories since the last quarter of 2010 and published 2,000 stories on women in total over the past year; the International Herald Tribune launched its Female Factor series in early 2010; the Wall Street Journal maintains a Women in the Economy column linked to an April 2011 conference of the same name; Newsweek/The Daily Beast has expanded its Women in the World column (full disclosure: I edit their related Women in the World Foundation site); the Economist will include a Women and Work special report in its November 26 issue; the Washington Post announced it is soon launching a women’s blog; and the Huffington Post launched a women’s site, HuffPo Women, in August this year.

Advertisers are also taking note. Rolex sponsors the FT’s Women at the Top project, as well as a magazine compilation of Female Factor articles for the IHT.

Alison Smale, executive editor of the International Herald Tribune, said:

“The message has been absorbed by big corporations, that women’s advancement is vital to growth. They don’t need any more convincing.”

Anna Louie Sussman is a New York-based writer and editor of womenintheworld.org

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