Media Moves Towards Millennial Women

In wake of the recent Women’s March and #DayWithoutAWoman strike, it’s clear that we’re in the midst of a serious uptick in third-wave feminism – and the media is responding in kind.

Women-focused media has always existed, and been a fertile ground for content – but news  organizations like the Washington Post have been experimenting with reaching out to millennial women in a more tailored way.

Their new venture, called The Lily, aims to “repackage” Washington Post’s non-partisan news content – and to create some original works as well – targeted towards millennial women and what matters to them.

“This idea of gender and society is something I am interested in and am passionate about, and at The Post, we reach women but we don’t get a lot of engagement,” said Amy King, editor of The Lily and design director at WaPo’s Emerging News Products team. “Men’s and women’s topic interests are really different, so we’re going to make it easier for people to find things – using curation and packaging to try and to solve that problem.”

Women-centric media has been gaining a lot of attention, with the likes of Teen Vogue more prominently featuring their political coverage and social commentary pieces. More “serious” coverage lying alongside celebrity profiles and articles on beauty has been surprising to some – but thoughtful and somber content has existed in the women’s media sphere long before the present day.

“The interesting thing that I believe adult women’s media has always been political. Outlets like Jezebel, since its launch years ago, have been a space for issues where women’s lives are intimately affected,” said Emma Gray, executive women’s editor at HuffPost Women. “We, as a society, tend to think that women must be interested in makeup and beauty, and that can’t coexist with hard-hitting political coverage. But women are three-dimensional people.”

In a maze of articles about the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the fashion trends of Spring 2017 – where does The Lily fit in? According to King, putting a premium on hard news and using the weight of the Post’s journalism will provide The Lily’s audience with pertinent information on issues that matter to them.

“I mean I think we’re definitely speaking to largely the same group of people, but we have the power of Washington Post journalism behind it … that’s the differentiator,” said King. “This demographic would care about these stories, but it’s currently not written it a way to reach them or hit their social feeds. Bustle and Refinery29 are great, and there’s space for everyone. For news and current events, The Lily would be the best at them.”

“Women’s empowerment” has been the latest buzz-phrase in present society, and brands have been all too eager to hop on the feminist train to reach their target demographic of millennial women. By targeting the same demographic in similar ways, perhaps media organizations are also benefitting from the feminist wave by racking up clicks and drawing eyes.

To this point, Gray simply stated that since half the world happens to be women, why ignore them? In her view, women-targeted media helps bolster one of journalism’s main pillars: giving voice to the voiceless.

“I think our priority to cover the most important stories …. From an editorial standpoint, it’s smart form not to ignore a half the population.” Gray said. “Women’s media has a responsibility for those voices to be a part in every conversation. We are always going to be there.”

As for The Lily, King says that targeting a certain audience at a frequency that they’ll be receptive to only advances journalism’s mission: informing the public.

“I mean, for me, it’s getting this journalism to speak to this age group. We have so many important stories coming out of The Post, and we want to package it in a way that people will notice it and take part,” said King. “I want The Lily to stick out, and to be a newsource targeted at women. No patronizing, and treating women with respect by proving smart, reliable information .… No celebrities or makeup. The Lily will be something a little bit different.”

The Lily is currently in its “soft launch” stage, and it only has a Facebook presence while building up their following. Their full launch is expected to come sometime in May or June of this year – with an Instagram account, an app and a website waiting in the wings. While The Lily’s platform-spanning content distribution is experimental, it hopes to use the same model to branch out to different demographics if successful.

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