Thursday, April 30, 2009

Citizen Journalism is Hot, Cosmo is Not

'Cosmopolitan' Institute Completes Decades-Long Study On How To Please Your Man

Cosmopolitan, with a readership of 632,000, is one of the most well-known “women’s” magazines in the world. It has also been criticized relentlessly by feminists who argue that women have interests other than just pleasing men.

It had been awhile, so I decided to check out Cosmo’s website and see if things had changed. Apparently not. One of the first articles that came up was “Sex Tips from Guys.” There’s no better way to "empower women" than by having men write the articles in women’s magazines, telling them directly what to do for them in bed. The advice given was anything but sex-positive. There was no focus on healthy communication. The article emphasized the importance of satisfying your partner with no mention of getting satisfied yourself. And, per usual, it assumed a heterosexual relationship from the get-go. I left reading Cosmo feeling insecure and paranoid.

Women's magazines shouldn't tell women what to do; they should give women a voice. This is why it is critical to support independent and feminist media. And if you’re not reading articles that represent you or your ideas, don’t be afraid to jump in and create something yourself. That’s how newspapers and magazines are founded.

Citizen journalism is a great way to get involved and reclaim the media. And the best part about it is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be professionally trained as a journalist to write a story, post a photo or video online, or start a blog.

In an article in MediaShift, it says “One of the main concepts behind citizen journalism is that mainstream media reporters and producers are not the exclusive center of knowledge on a subject -- the audience knows more collectively than the reporter alone.”

The article describes how in "We the Media," (Dan) Gillmor traces the roots of citizen journalism to the founding of the United States in the 18th century, when pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine and the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers gained prominence by printing their own publications.

Some cities have their own citizen journalism websites. In Minnesota, there is the Twin Cities Daily Planet, where anyone in the community can contribute articles, and there is also a list of resources for citizen journalists. In Portland, there is the Portland Independent Media Center, which advertises independent tv news, radio, print, and video; and where publishing a story is as easy as sending an email.
Another great way to create your own media is to start a zine! Zines are awesome and easy because you can make them at home, and there are no rules. You can be in total control of the content. In Portland, The Independent Publishing Resource Center is a great resource for getting started- members have access to workshops, a computer lab, copiers and a humongous zine library, which is a great way to learn about and support other independent writers. Independent and feminist bookstores are always a good place to look, and some local libraries even stock zines (and perhaps would stock more if requested). Portland is also host to the annual Portland Zine Symposium, a three-day event full of zinesters and workshops galore.
Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California that focuses on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works. On their website, they have tips about how to start a zine group yourself.

There are many ways to get published, so if magazines like Cosmo aren’t representative of you, create something that is.

1 comment:

  1. Love the video.

    Some wonderful women's magazines: Bitch, Make/Shift, Shameless and New Moon for Girls. Another personal favorite: Utne Reader.