Serbia: The Women’s Page Woman
- Summary Survey -
By: Zana Paripovic
of the dailies issued over the past couple of years have featured the Women’s Page column, I guess as an attempt at providing women with
some space and time in the papers. Depending on the editorial policy, in these
columns, women are presented with various informative and entertaining contents,
which – given their structure and in particular their direct or underlying
messages – can at least indirectly answer the question of how column editors
perceive their female readers and their position within the society.
In an attempt at
answering this question, I have conducted a survey encompassing as follows:
Analysis of the
Women’s Page column content in the daily newspapers 'Blic', 'Glas
javnosti' and 'Politika' over the January 31 through March 14, 2001 period,
comparison of the column contents by areas determined in advance.
used the quality-quantity data analysis for this survey. In the first place, I
picked out all the possible areas covered in such columns, including: fashion,
culture, body care, recipes, hairstyling, men’s world, curiosities,
celebrities, health care, romance and relationships, advice, research, family
and society, and interior decoration. I have subsequently used these areas as
the main categories for classification of all the recorded texts.
the aforementioned time interval, I have analyzed 7 columns each in the daily
newspapers 'Blic', 'Glas javnosti' and 'Politika'. The analysis encompassed 105
texts, and their breakdown is provided in the table below:
As shown in the table
above, the largest number of texts are contained in the 'Politika', followed by
the 'Blic', and then by the 'Glas javnosti'. This piece of data can be explained
by the fact that the Women’s Page in
the ‘Politika' is designed on the principle of brief texts, approximately
equal in length, whereas the texts in the 'Blic' – particularly in the 'Glas
javnosti' – are longer and divided into smaller sections which could even be
considered texts for themselves. Also, a part of the space in the 'Blic' and
'Glas javnosti' is intended for horoscopes, crosswords and advertisements, which
additionally reduces the space intended for texts.
Photographs as an
additional type of information and visual supplement to texts appear in all
columns. Their presence percentage varies as shown in the table below:
Note: The data above were
obtained so as to attach equal importance to individual photographs in
comparison to the text, that is, each photograph was treated as a unit of
analysis regardless of its size but only frequency of appearance was taken into
account, based on the following principle: 1 photograph = 1 text = unit of
Although the analysis
singles out thirteen areas, the biggest differences between texts have been
perceived in the areas of fashion, culture
speaking, high interest in fashion is not only a feature of daily paper columns.
Namely, since recently we have all testified of the enormous popularity enjoyed
by the fashion industry, particularly of the attention focused on the modeling
profession. Currently there is no television without at least one broadcast
specifically intended for fashion, there is no women’s magazine that does not
address fashion shows, top models, etc. The charm of all the fashion news is
additionally increased by certain economic reasons: given the chronically bad
situation in the country, many young girls dream about becoming world’s top
models. Because it guarantees high incomes and huge success, the modeling
profession has been “smiling” from tops of rating lists for most desirable
professions over the past couple of years.
Daily newspapers do not
give up on such trend of presenting the world of fashion even today. A good
example of this are even the results of this analysis, which shows that the
fashion segment is predominant in all the columns of the Women’s Page in the above listed daily papers. The fashion segment
takes up 30.45% of the texts in the 'Glas javnosti', 36.9% in the 'Politika' and
the unbelievable 70% in the 'Blic'. However,
the quality analysis of the texts shows that each daily paper has a different
approach to this segment.
the 'Blic' offers its female readers “a training course or a small guide”
through the current events at the fashion shows throughout the world – Fashion
Days in Rome, Sao Paolo, Paris, or fashion fairs in Dusseldorf, Belgrade…
This is the more unexplainable tendency when you know that the information
presented in these texts are not interesting for the women from this region,
particularly the information on fashion designers of whom a woman has never
heard unless she is a fashion expert. So they keep on throwing names such as
Tuffi Dueck, Waldemar Lordise, Gloria Khalil, Hanibal Lagune …
Lots of space has also
been dedicated to local fair events, particularly the Belgrade Fashion Fair.
Such texts mainly address prize-winning designers, models and fashion companies.
And again, texts are stuffed with names of our designers, whose names are mainly
unknown in the general public as well.
Only some of the texts
in this segment are intended for such women who have flaws in their looks, and
only one of the selected texts is dedicated to women with shortage of money. In
general, texts are intended mainly for women with ‘deeper pockets’, as well
as for those who make great efforts to have their looks in accordance with the
most recent fashion made by top world fashion designers.
As for the 'Politika',
it approaches fashion from a somewhat different angle. The texts in its column
put focus on the parallel between the fashion of today and the old timer fashion.
The texts are dedicated to the women who were considered to be ‘ladies with
style’ such as Jacky Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Greta Garbo, Laureen Bacall, and
Tamara Bakic from our region. By putting history and fashion together. The
‘Politika’ editors makes efforts to avoid offering dry information to their
female readers concerning fashion shows without background or with possibly a
photo attached, but to bring together fashion and a couple of interesting facts
related to the historical context. Although certain texts follow the trends of
the most recent world catwalks, there is still an impression that the Women’s
Page , at least as far at the fashion is concerned, is a bit melancholy in
rather remembering the “good old times” when we used to be “ … worldly
and some top world celebrities visited the domes of the Belgrade Fair…''.
The texts dedicated to fashion in the 'Glas javnosti'
are very similar to those from the 'Blic'. They most often present trends
for the next season coming from the catwalks of Paris, Milan, London, New York,
and the like.
unavoidable topic until a couple of years ago, I is slowly becoming less and
less interesting for editors, thus texts addressing this issue give up their
space to some new, I guess more interesting information.
Of all the aforementioned papers, the most attention to this topic is
given by the 'Politika', offering its female readers an opportunity to learn
about new books, theater performances and the like, but also with ‘hot
potatoes’ such as use of internet for the purpose of misogyny, that is, hatred
of women. The analysis of contents of the stated texts indicates that the
authors have tried breaking prejudice on women by all means still existing in
our region. So the texts tell us about new performances, about asylum for beaten
women, a new gynecology/midwifery lexicon, about the drive ‘Take life do not
take drugs’… The texts do vary and by all means they are ‘on the women’s
side’, but they are still within the boundaries of tolerance and good taste.
culture related texts in the 'Glas javnosti' and 'Blic' dailies appear ‘only
in traces’. More exactly, during the analyzed period only 1 text appeared in
the 'Glas javnosti', and only 2 in this segment in the 'Blic'. All of the three
cases involve presentation of new books. Although a more general conclusion
would require much more material available, it is not difficult to surmise that
over the period of January 28, through March 14, these papers simply did not
attach sufficient attention to culture.
in mind the fact that celebrities ''.. tailor the opinions, styles and even the
looks” of so many readers, the celebrities presented to the female readers in
daily newspapers can be one of the relevant factors influencing a segment of
celebrities featured in the 'Politika' are mainly famous women. One of them is a
journalist, the other one an actress, the third and fourth ones are in the
fashion world, etc. Each of them proved in her own way in their respective
professions, became famous and left trace with our public. An interview with
each of them has an immediate cause, but only once the whole story is read it
turns out that a certain message is sent out to the woman readers about the
‘right’ way of living. Namely, the idea is that the women in focus resist
the everyday living in some very creative ways and that they make sure they
preserve their personal integrity. Having this editorial vision of the woman in
view, it does not surprise that these are mainly mature ladies.
‘Glas javnosti’ Women’s Page
column attached no major attention to a single public celebrity over the
aforementioned time interval.
the 'Blic' I noticed only one text featuring celebrities. It is dedicated to
Natasa Vojnovic the model. If you associate this piece of information with the
fact that 70 per cent of texts on the ‘Blic’ Women’s
Pages address fashion and nothing else, it is clear that the Women’s Page in this paper is absolutely fashion-dominated, and
that the domain of celebrities actually does not exist as such beyond the
context of fashion.
for the other areas, by analyzing text quality I found out that there are no
major differences among the dailies, except for the fact that the 'Politika'
covers the largest number of segments, and the selection of texts in this paper
is the most versatile.
The Women’s Page
Based on the results gathered through the analysis, one gets a general impression that various dailies offer varying informative or entertaining contents to their female readers.
As for the variety of the areas covered, the conclusion is that the ‘Politika’ texts bring the biggest variety of information. Its texts encompass even 13 various domains of life, although they are not even approximately equal in proportion in terms of presence. The most limited topic-wise are the texts from the ‘Blic’ daily paper, which are mainly concentrated to the fashion world (even 70% of texts fall into this category).
As far as the source of information is concerned, editorial principles
differ here as well. Thus the ‘Politika’ insists that the texts be signed by
their journalists. They only sometimes take photographs from foreign magazines,
but the accompanying texts themselves are always made by the ‘Politika’
journalists. On the other hand, the majority of the texts in the ‘Blic’ and
‘Glas javnosti’ dailies are taken from foreign news agency services, most
often from the MVP and CDC, while the photographs accompanying the texts are
often taken from the REUTERS. This is why some of the mentioned texts are
adapted to women in this region to a small extent, primarily due to the
differences in the cultural sensibility and standard of living.
If a woman’s
personality can be judged based on the texts intended for her and the messages
sent by way of these texts, the conclusion of this analysis is that the dailies
analyzed have quite different perceptions of their female reader groups.
the text samples were gathered in such a brief period of time may be
insufficient, I will venture on to summarize the data I obtained and indulge
myself in a rather subjective analysis of the personality of the woman addressed
by the Women’s Pages in the
woman targeted by the Women’s Page in
‘Politika’ is above all versatile. She is interested in various areas,
ranging from fashion, books, theater, body care, to the unavoidable men’s
world (in where she is only interested in men with style!). She takes care of
her appearance, she knows the latest fashion trends, but she does not follow
them blindly. She is also a good housewife, who likes to surprise her family
with a delicious dish. She likes to read books and visit the theater. In
addition to the care she takes about her family, she likes to put aside some
time for herself. Then she relaxes and for a moment forgets about the numerous
obligations she has. She is elegant, but given the scarce cash available – she
is her own beautician, and she uses resourcefulness and female wit to beat all
those world’s renowned cosmetics manufacturers and does her own little
cosmetic wonders using the materials available at home.
The woman targeted by the Women’s Page in the 'Glas javnosti' is most
interested in fashion. She follows the most recent world trends and likes to be
dressed after the newest fashion dictate, primarily the one offered by the
Italian designers. She is interested in all the details from the world of
fashion, even including the fees of the top world models. As for books, she
prefers those dealing in ‘the art of love’. She does not visit the theater.
She cares very much about the relations with her partner and she makes efforts
to maintain her relationship by tending to her good looks and continuously
seducing her partner. She is not interested in cooking, but she does take a deep
interest in the most recent medical projects. However, most of all she likes to
be trendy, so she finds it very important to have information on the current
‘hot deals’ of Hollywood, on the in-perfumes and specialties at Belgrade
is sometimes depressed so she makes all possible efforts to overcome this
situation. All in all, she is sexy, trendy, a little bit snobbish and to an
extent more versatile than the woman targeted by the Women’s
Page in the 'Blic'.
The woman targeted by the Women’s Page in
the 'Blic' lives for fashion. Her whole world turns around fashionable clothes (made
by famous fashion designers, of course). What does she enjoy? To compete with
her girl-friends in naming as many of the less known world and local designers
as possible in as short time as possible. If the result is even, that one wins
who first remembers some of the following: Tuffi Dueck, Waldemar Lordise, Gloria
Khalil, Hanibal Lagune. She follows all the local fashion events, particularly
the Belgrade Fashion Fair. Her dream is to attend the Fashion Week in Rome, Paris or Sao Paolo. Money is not a problem for
her and she mainly spends it only on herself. She does not have a permanent
partner yet because she abides by the following rules: 1) she never phones a
man, 2) she never pays attention to him; 3) she never pays their bills. And she
has learned these tips from the only book she likes to read. Using these rules,
she has managed to retrieve her personal integrity – and lost her partner the
very same moment. She is not interested in domestic chores. All in all, she is a
voluntary slave to fashion and finds nothing else interesting.
Zana Paripovic conducted this survey under the scope of her final project at the specialist media studies in Novi Sad (FRY), under the guidance of her professors Dubravka Valic-Nedjeljkovic and Jovanka Matic. Translation by: K.H. ©Media Online 2001. All rights reserved.
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