BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Talking Point  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Monday, 14 October, 2002, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Do women have a different news agenda?
France's well respected newspaper Le Figaro has broken new ground with the publication of a special woman-only edition.

The new version was entirely produced by women tackling the world's events as seen by women.

The women-only edition gives a dramatically different slant to the news compared to the standard Figaro which covered its front page with stories about sanctions for drivers under the influence of drugs and the blast on a French supertanker off Yemen.

The special issue includes a mix of serious news stories - from the male-female wage gap, a profile of US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, to selective abortions in India.

Does it make a difference whether the editor of a newspaper is a man or a woman? Is the news agenda too male biased?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Have your say

If I wanted female news and views, I would buy magazines

Jenn, UK
As a journalist, this implies I would report news in a different way to my male colleagues, which I certainly do not. News is news. Features are where sexist divisions like this can exist. If I wanted female news and views, I would buy magazines.
Jenn, UK

All our newspapers are male biased. Why else would there be constant pages and calendars of barely clothed women and more and more pages devoted to football. I bet if a paper started posting pictures of half naked men there would be an outcry!
Michelle, UK

I think the news agenda is not so much male-dominated as dominated by politics, big business and (in the newspapers) by journalists with personal axes to grind. If a women-only newspaper turns out to be more balanced in terms of the breadth of subjects it covers and less self-opinionated in the way it reports news, then this will be a good thing.
David Hazel, UK

Why not have newspaper for women. After all there are already newspapers for the Asian, black, and gay communities.
Sunjay Bhogal, London, UK

If women went from running newspapers to running the world, it would indeed be a better place to live. There would more compromise between leaders of countries and war would become obsolete as a way of settling disputes. I'd like to live to see the day when the military would have to have a bake sale to raise funds instead of our schools. More power to them!
Kathy Parvizi, USA

Kathy Parvizi gets to the heart of the matter because she sees the difference in the way many women seem to perceive human affairs compared to the usual male views, which often are more aggressive and based on revenge and punishment. But I don't like the idea of an all-female newspaper. What is needed is a quota system to ensure equal representation of men and women in editorial matters.
John Ormerod, Norway

To create a whole new paper for women is insulting

Sarah, Hong Kong
Why doesn't Le Figaro just even out the balance of men and women working in their newsroom. If you want a female slant on world affairs then make the editor, political editor or news editor a woman. Make sure you have working policies that make it easy for women to combine working with having families. To create a whole new paper for women is insulting. Does this mean the main paper is now for men only?
Sarah, Hong Kong

From a feminist-friendly view point, we should embrace the view women have on the news and not change the article content completely to fit around 'women's issues'. As many have already stated, a magazine would be more suited for such publication.
Lisa Maria, UK/USA

Basically, positive discrimination in any form whatsoever is very wrong and should be outlawed. Having a female-only broadsheet publication is simply ridiculous. I doubt a male-only newspaper would receive quite the same reaction. Much needs to be reconsidered.
Kamal, UK

It's not one-offs women need but top jobs

Hilary, UK/Spain
The views of women will be better represented by employing a larger number of women on newspapers such as Le Figaro. The special issue makes a valid point that many papers aren't representative of their readership, but in the end it's not one-offs women need but top jobs.
Hilary, UK/Spain

If it means that the acres of space that newspapers currently devote to fashion, diets, horoscopes and gossip are removed, I'm all for it.
Dougal McKinnon, UK

The gender based wage gap, Condoleezza Rice, and selective abortions in India have all been well covered by the American media. If the French haven't previously reported on these items, then there is a need for the women only edition. However, I haven't seen a good article on male issues such as preventative measures for prostate cancer here in the states, so I'll have to pick up a copy of Le Figaro next time I'm in Paris.
Joe, New York, USA

Women deserve better than a few stories about fair pay and child rearing

Michael Lakey, UK
There is a world of difference between news which is in the public interest and news which interests the public. I suspect that Figaro is producing news which interests women rather than asking what is in their best interests to know. Women deserve better than a few stories about fair pay and child rearing. To mark issues such as fair pay as 'female' issues is to tell men that they do not have to worry that their wives, mothers and girlfriends are still getting a rough deal in the workplace. That is hardly liberating for women is it?
Michael Lakey, UK

Why should there be a women-only newspaper? If there was a men only newspaper then there would be outrage!
Hannah, UK

Hannah,UK: There is a male newspaper - it's called the Sport!

Hannah, ever read the Sun?
Rhiannon, UK

Emmeline Pankhurst would have a hissy fit

Mel, London
Emmiline Pankhurst would have a hissy fit. This is crazy. We have striven for equality and now appear to be debasing ourselves. What do we want? The news is the news... regardless of whether we are female or not.
Mel, London

How can news be classified by the reader's gender? News is news, and affects us all according to our nationality, income, religious/political beliefs or whatever, but surely not our gender. There are already plenty of magazines catering exclusively for the male or female market. Newspapers should concentrate on providing unbiased, up-to-the-minute, information and stop worrying about the gender of their readership!
Lin, UK

It is a gimmick that will fold within a year. If there's an earthquake or a serial killer on the loose, I want to know about it whether Iżm a man or a woman.
Paul Haire, UK

Female only newspapers have about as much sense as female artist exhibition and women composers' concerts. Its insulting to women. Either you are capable of consuming serious news or you don't. Either you are a good painter or composer or you aren't. Pretty soon will start to divide performers into male and female categories and give them separate awards. How pathetic!
Mirek Kondracki, USA

Based upon current women only reading it will focus upon dieting, clothes, make-up, emotional problems and slagging off men to make women feel superior.
Gerry , UK

I'm over 6ft tall and am constantly appalled but the lack coverage about height related issues. If there are sufficient taller people out there who feel the same then please contact me and we can start our own "tall" newspaper.
Lance Strangely, UK

I can't stand all the macho news going round at the minute - but you've just got to ask yourself: Do women prefer reading Cosmo or FMH. FHM always comes up tops.
Trudy, UK

I would only buy it if there was sufficient coverage of the world knitting championships and similar important issues
Helen, UK

Surely the suggestion that women aren't interested in "normal" news - threat of war, economic instability, political unrest - is in itself a highly sexist viewpoint.
John Wilson, UK

I think its very insulting to both men and women to suggest that their views, interests or priorities are governed by their sex. People are far more complex than that and its silly and patronising to suggest otherwise. I just cant see how the stories mentioned above could be classified as being male of female stories. Abortion, drugs, Ms Rice and bombings are of equal relevance to us all. Maybe Le Figaro just need to print a larger paper.
Niall Clarke, Manchester England

I envisage a glossy without the costs of a glossy!


Can't see it working in reality. The suggestion is that the female figaro is to put a female slant on the news, whereas the first seems to disregard "news" (ie the explosion off Yemen) to concentrate on what appear to be women's issues (equal pay, the morals of abortion, profiles of women). I envisage a glossy without the costs of a glossy!

Yes, very clearly they do. Just look at the BBC website - entire sections that are effectively women only. I think that it's a fantastic idea to have a women-only news service, the newspapers and services can move all the women-centric items to the new productions. Both productions will have considerably more space, which just has to be a good thing. I would also hope that the non-women-only productions could cut down on the number of pictures, and let the sport go into the specialist productions.
Steve, UK

As a Brit I can't comment on newspapers as we don't have them in this country. Our obsession with Posh's latest skirt and Sven's last fling makes sure British people are ignorant to the real issues in our country and especially abroad. In a time where we are about to kill a lot of Iraqi civilians, NI is destabilising and our public services are in ruins this is very scary.
Lew, UK

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Europe
Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |