Sheila Webb (Journalism) wins award for her research on women and magazines

Sheila Webb (Journalism)

Western Today staff

Sheila Webb (Journalism) has been given the Mary Ann Yodelis Smith Award for her project "Women as Readers, Women as Contributors – Creation of Community in Magazines."

The award, which funds feminist scholarship that judges feel could significantly impact the literature of gender and media, is given by the Commission on the Status of Women in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

"I am honored to receive this award and am particularly pleased as I am an alumna of the University of Wisconsin – Madison," said Webb, an assistant professor of journalism at Western Washington University. "Mary Ann Yodelis Smith was the second woman tenured in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and she played a critical role there in advancing the opportunities for women in the academy and in journalism."

Webb's $500 award will be presented at the AEJMC business meeting Aug. 6 in Boston. She will use the award to help complete her study of Reiman magazines.

Webb has completed two-thirds of her ongoing study.

Webb has been investigating the creation of community based on gender norms in Reiman publications, ten magazines that focus on food, crafts with a country flair, nostalgia, and birds and gardening. In the arena of shelter magazines, they present an unusual model – 80 percent of the content is submitted by readers, mostly women, and until 2005, the magazines were ad-free. Unique in the field, this model proved to be enormously successful. The company produced revenues of over $300 million a year and was valued at $760 million when it was bought by Reader’s Digest in 2002.

Two of the three components of her ongoing study are completed. The first was a narrative analysis of Taste of Home and Country Woman which was published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. The second part of the project moved from the editorial to the reader side: Her analysis of questionnaires completed by readers of Taste of Home and Country Woman won Top Faculty Paper Award in the AEJMC Magazine Division in 2009. She is now beginning work on the third stage of her study. Her proposal is to do a follow-up questionnaire: This will be a uses and gratification study to investigate how the relationship of the readers to the magazines is changing due to the increasing focus on online content and the acceptance of advertising.

One judge commented: "The notion that magazines reflect a shared reality – or create one – is a fascinating topic."


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