Take the "attachment parenting" issue, dramatically showcased on
the cover of Time magazine, which depicted a startling photograph
of a young mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on its May 21
One might think Glamour.com, Cosmopolitan.com, MarieClaire.com
and Elle.com would have had a heyday with this issue, sparking a
hot debate among their "mommy" age readers. But apparently none of
them felt compelled or even tempted to join in the conversation. I
know -- I checked them all.
At HollywoodLife.com, meanwhile, our reporters and editors were
hot on the trail of every attachment-parenting angle, from the
original story, to the celebrity reaction, to the "Today" interview
with cover mom Jamie Lynn Grumet, to opinion pieces about extended
breastfeeding. We covered the waterfront on the subject and our
readers ate it up, commenting like crazy along the way.
Now, we weren't the only digitally native women's site to leap
all over the debate. Jezebel.com, Yahoo's Shine, and SheKnows.com
all plunged into the discussion and were rewarded I'm sure, like we
were, with traffic and a deeper bond with our audiences.
Meanwhile the traditional women's media sites ignored the ruckus
and missed the opportunity to engage with their audiences in a
lively two-way conversation.
I suspect that this reticence to leap in on news has its roots
in the fact that most of the editors of the traditional women's
media websites come from primarily print backgrounds and are still
living and working in a monthly mindset.
They simply aren't used to reacting quickly to news and then
posting it without going through multiple layers of editors.
Instead, their sites are set up to promote editorial content from
their monthly issues and encourage young women to become
subscribers. That's why they rarely feature any "news," whether
it's a celebrity divorce or the latest red carpet looks.
For example, think of what Vogue.com, HarpersBazaar.com, Elle.com
and InStyle.com could do
if they, like several native online sites, covered in live-time
major fashion events such as the Oscars, the Emmys, the Golden
Globes, and the Metropolitan Costume Ball, posting photos and
galleries as the celebrities hit the red carpet, and discussing the
gowns, hair, makeup and more.
Then there is the platform challenge. Most of these sites
haven't been built to enable the kind of easy posting that
digitally native sites engage in.
The platforms traditional media live on often require "special"
digital editors to post the site's stories, and these editors might
not even sit on the same floor or in the same building as the
site's editorial staff.
And then there's staffing. The traditional women's media sites
rarely have more than two or three editorial staffers working on
their sites. We have 15 staffers and post 50 to 60 times a day from
early in the morning until late in the evening.
I also believe it's hard for traditional women's media sites to
flourish in the online arena when they may also be seen as
competitors to their own mother magazine brands. If their parent
organizations see their mothership magazines as the
primary revenue source, then they might see investing in sites that
draw readers' eyeballs but not the equivalent revenue as a bad
Coming from magazines, I have to say that editing a digitally
native women's site is incredibly freeing -- all resources, all
energies are devoted to building your new native brand.
You may be operating with a far leaner staff and tighter
resources than a women's print magazine ever had, but there are
other bonuses that your audience appreciates.
There's no worrying about giving coverage to great stories
broken by the competition. You can cover them. There's no agonizing
over which one story or celebrity can carry a cover for a
month or a week.
And there's that invaluable opportunity to have two-way
conversations in real time with readers and be able to respond
Lucky for us, it appears the women's traditional media sites
have affectively made the decision not to compete for their own
readers -- the millennial generation -- in the online space.
But with these print titles experiencing double-digit newsstand
drops in the past year, can they afford NOT to get with the