REDEFINING WOMEN'S NEWS: A CASE STUDY OF THREE WOMEN'S PAGE EDITORS AND THEIR FRAMING OF THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
Wilmot Voss, Kimberly
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For many decades the main area of journalism to which women could contribute was women's pages in newspapers. These sections, which ran from the late nineteenth century until the late 1960s, have been overlooked by journalism historians as containing significant content. While it was true that many sections concentrated on news of weddings, society events, routine notices of club meetings, fashion and recipes, other sections contained news of political and social issues that were important to women especially throughout the 1960s when the women's pages were often the only way that women could learn about the women's liberation movement. This study details the lives of three progressive women's page editors: Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Jurney and Marjorie Paxson. Throughout their long journalism careers and in their private lives, they strove to redefine news for women by rejecting the limitations of traditional women's sections. In addition to examining their lives through a biographical approach, this dissertation uses framing and feminist theories to analyze the content of the women's sections edited by the three women. This study also includes an examination, using framing theory, of the winning submissions in the Penney-Missouri award competition from 1960 to 1971. These awards, which have not been studied previously, were meant to raise the standards of women's pages by recognizing sections that went beyond traditional content. I found Penney-Missouri award winners, which included Castleberry, Jurney and Paxson, framed women's news differently than male journalists framed news pertaining to women. Women's page editors attempted to balance conflicting messages of staying at home versus fighting for change that were being given to women during the women's movement. They did not focus on friction when they covered it. They created their own issue-based frame that took the women's movement seriously without excluding women who wanted to remain homemakers. The findings support a revision in the history of women's pages and their role in the women's liberation movement. While traditional women's pages filled with society, home and wedding news, appeared in many newspapers, some sections were progressive in content and writing style. Not recognizing the differences among women's page editors at various newspapers leads to the invisibility of women in journalism history and overlooks the important role played by women in pressing for change.