What's in a name? A lot, when it comes to 'Women's perspective'
Fans of the title women's perspective?
It’s been a day of firsts here at Fairfax Media headquarters. For the first time in 182 years The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheets have been printed neatly compact. We’re debuting a brand new look for our news websites. And in what surely must be another history-making first for any newspaper making a seismic shift in news production – the issue we’re all talking about is women. The number one piece of feedback on the new websites so far is that the term “Women’s Perspective” to summarise feisty, feminist site Daily Life is not only regressive, inappropriate and offensive but inaccurate too.
First, some background. As part of a plan to make the new websites as user-friendly as possible, particularly for first-time visitors, it was decided that sections should be more clearly labelled with one- or two-word subject areas, rather than the existing brands. Hence, sections like National Times became "Federal Politics", Domain became "Real Estate" and the number one female website in the country, Daily Life, was repackaged as "Women’s Perspective".
The news hit social media with an audible thud. A site which has, since launch, rallied against the old-fashioned, patronising ideas of women and women’s content that so much of our media, politics and workplaces are filled with was now presenting readers with a summary of itself in the very tone it rallied against.
Admittedly it’s not an easy task to sum up a site with as broad a range of content as Daily Life but, as so many of you have said on Twitter, the words “Women’s Perspective” are not it. They hark back to a 1950s media attitude that women were only interested in light and easy "women's issues". It's something Daily Life has had to fight hard to shake off and it has done so via a mix of strong, quality, political content.
Daily Life’s success over the past 12 months has proven that women's opinions are neither niche, nor do they need to be packaged as some kind of alternative and/or irrelevant perspective from the norm (that being the default male position, where the real news and change-making occurs) and up until this time this hasn’t been the case.
This title was not Daily Life’s decision. As the Editor I have waged an exhaustive campaign warning people of the social media apocalypse that would await us if it was called the wrong name. Begging to trade words like “female” for “women” or for us not to have a tagline at all.
Sadly though, this campaign failed. It fell victim to a corporate need for a uniform approach, even when it proved nigh impossible to reduce Daily Life to a short, pithy label. But thanks to the rapid feedback of so many readers on social media, the conversation about what to call Daily Life on the news homepages has been reopened.
It’s vital that the heading of our section reflects the fact that we are providing interesting, quality content that women want to read not just because they are women, but because they are smart women who care about the world, who believe women’s issues should have a bigger platform in the mainstream media and because they believe in equality for all.
(Also, we need a name that doesn’t marginalise our much-loved male contributors.)
The investment that Fairfax has made in creating and growing a site like Daily Life is an enormous and important undertaking and it can not be undone by two small words.
So, to turn a phrase, please give us your women’s perspective on what one- or two-word phrase best sums up Daily Life. Please post your suggestions below in the comments section and we will let you know as soon as we have a short list.