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Feminist Consciousness and the Production of a Contemporary Women's Section
Unformatted Document Text:  Tracking number: ICA-12-11416 25 6 That “ideology” itself has caused so much intellectual debate makes it even more difficult. Eagleton (1991) identifies 16 different uses of the term currently circulating in academia. My discussion here of “ideology” is admittedly cursory. For more, see also Eagleton (1991), Fiske (1992), Hall (1980), Grossberg (1993), Lewis (1992), Morley & Chen (1996), Omi & Winant (1994), and Shoelle (1988). 7 Mass media analysis coming out of the British Cultural Studies perspective tends to consider how ideologies and power not only appear in content but how they relate to the production of texts and receivers of mediated information. The theoretical tradition, however, has further complicated notions of ideology by centering Foucault’s theory of “discourse,” which, in simplistic terms, turns to language in social use to conceptualize knowledge and power. For two examples of this type of analysis, see D’Acci (1994) and Fiske (1996). 8 The weekday circulation of the paper is 20,469 and the Saturday circulation is 23,348. The paper does not publish on Sundays because of a joint operating agreement with Madison’s morning daily. Approximately 60 full-time and five part-time employees work in The Capital Times’ newsroom. Three editors and four reporters make up the features department, though a number of other local and national writers contribute columns to these pages. The paper promotes itself as the more liberal of the two Madison newspapers. In fact, across the masthead, the paper claims to be “Dane County’s Progressive Newspaper.” 9 At no point during the interviews and conversations did I mention “feminism,” “women’s movement” or related concepts to the interview subjects unless they had first mentioned the topic. Interviewees were simply told that I had an interest in contemporary women’s sections. Along with the editor of Savvy, I interviewed the features editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief, publisher and Savvy’s two primary writers. For background information, I also interviewed a copy editor who had been at The Capital Times when the paper introduced Savvy. My interpretations are based on qualitative methods and informed by feminist and other critical and cultural studies theories. 10 Specifically, The Capital Times runs a “Lifestyle” section on Mondays which typically includes food and health but can be a catch all for those stories that do not fit into any theme. Tuesday the paper publishes a section titled “Ethics, Faith & Values,” Wednesday’s are reserved for “Arts & Entertainment,” Friday’s section is for the weekend music and arts, and Saturday features “Travel.” 11 Unfortunately no one in the newsroom seems to be able to locate the focus group report and the woman who conducted the research says she no longer has a copy of her findings. She did say, however, that she remembers women participants not being enthusiastic about the idea of a special section in the newspaper. This runs counter to what some in the newsroom remember about the research. The problem with conflicting accounts of the focus group results illustrates the difficulty in relying on a person’s memory when conducting research.

Authors: Harp, Dustin.
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Tracking number: ICA-12-11416
25
6
That “ideology” itself has caused so much intellectual debate makes it even more
difficult. Eagleton (1991) identifies 16 different uses of the term currently circulating in
academia.
My discussion here of “ideology” is admittedly cursory. For more, see also
Eagleton (1991), Fiske (1992), Hall (1980), Grossberg (1993), Lewis (1992), Morley &
Chen (1996), Omi & Winant (1994), and Shoelle (1988).
7
Mass media analysis coming out of the British Cultural Studies perspective tends to
consider how ideologies and power not only appear in content but how they relate to the
production of texts and receivers of mediated information. The theoretical tradition,
however, has further complicated notions of ideology by centering Foucault’s theory of
“discourse,” which, in simplistic terms, turns to language in social use to conceptualize
knowledge and power. For two examples of this type of analysis, see D’Acci (1994) and
Fiske (1996).
8
The weekday circulation of the paper is 20,469 and the Saturday circulation is 23,348.
The paper does not publish on Sundays because of a joint operating agreement with
Madison’s morning daily. Approximately 60 full-time and five part-time employees work
in The Capital Times’ newsroom. Three editors and four reporters make up the features
department, though a number of other local and national writers contribute columns to
these pages. The paper promotes itself as the more liberal of the two Madison
newspapers. In fact, across the masthead, the paper claims to be “Dane County’s
Progressive Newspaper.”
9
At no point during the interviews and conversations did I mention “feminism,”
“women’s movement” or related concepts to the interview subjects unless they had first
mentioned the topic. Interviewees were simply told that I had an interest in contemporary
women’s sections. Along with the editor of Savvy, I interviewed the features editor,
managing editor, editor-in-chief, publisher and Savvy’s two primary writers. For
background information, I also interviewed a copy editor who had been at The Capital
Times
when the paper introduced Savvy.
My interpretations are based on qualitative methods and informed by feminist and other
critical and cultural studies theories.
10
Specifically, The Capital Times runs a “Lifestyle” section on Mondays which typically
includes food and health but can be a catch all for those stories that do not fit into any
theme. Tuesday the paper publishes a section titled “Ethics, Faith & Values,”
Wednesday’s are reserved for “Arts & Entertainment,” Friday’s section is for the
weekend music and arts, and Saturday features “Travel.”
11
Unfortunately no one in the newsroom seems to be able to locate the focus group report
and the woman who conducted the research says she no longer has a copy of her findings.
She did say, however, that she remembers women participants not being enthusiastic
about the idea of a special section in the newspaper. This runs counter to what some in
the newsroom remember about the research. The problem with conflicting accounts of
the focus group results illustrates the difficulty in relying on a person’s memory when
conducting research.


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