To mark the launch of Double X, co-editors Emily Bazelon, Meghan O'Rourke, and Hanna Rosin took readers' questions about their new online women's magazine during a live chat on Washingtonpost.com. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.
Washington, D.C.: Why another mag for the ladies? Isn't there already a whole lot of stuff for you, e.g., Cosmo, LHJ, Glamour, etc.? What content will Double X have that the print media won't have, and that will be worth paying for in terms of ads?
Emily Bazelon: Good question. Our hope is that Double X will appeal to women who don't necessarily feel at home in the glossy mag world (me among them). Women's magazines surround their smart content with much straight-up, idealized coverage of beauty and fashion. That's an economic necessity for them. We're hoping that the web will free us from that. We're also hoping that men will join in and eavesdrop on our conversation, and feel more comfortable doing so than they would buying a glossy women's mag.
Federal Cubicle, D.C.: The magazine looks great. But that name? How could you?!
Out here in Government Worker Land, and also (I'm pretty sure) in Corporate America Land, bookmarking a site called Double X is just begging for trouble. What were you thinking? That all our work computers aren't subject to monitoring? That the whole world is so high-minded that "XX" means chromosomes first and foremost, and sexual content only a distant and improbable second?
Please explain your thinking, because as a result of it, a lot of us may have some explaining to do down the line. Thanks. Sort of.
Emily Bazelon: ah, the name. Naming is hard! Here's what we were thinking: XX for two female chromosomes, as you said, and to try to skirt trouble for readers, we spelled out the URL—doublex.com—so no not-for-work sites will pop up unexpectedly. You can bookmark us safely, we promise! We also chose this name because it plays off the name of our blog, XX Factor, which is the spine of the new site.
New York, N.Y.: As we are discussing whether the Internet will replace newspapers and TV, do you see sites like yours replacing magazines? Will you have, or if you don't, be considering adding video to your site? Do you believe sites like yours might eventually replace similar TV shows?
Emily Bazelon: Yes, we are running video on the site—some original video, and some that we partner with other sites for, or pull from YouTube. I don't think short videos really replace TV. At least not good TV that warrants 30 minutes or an hour of viewing, as opposed to a brief snippet.
I also don't think sites like ours will replace print magazines. There is a tactile appeal to reading something that you can hold in your hands. Especially for long pieces, it's just more pleasurable. Or such is my view, anyway. But four years at Slate have convinced me that the web offers a vitality and spontaneity that print can't match. For conversations like the one we have on our blog, XX Factor, nothing else will do but the web. And the links mean that readers can follow along on a writers' research journey, which I love.
New Jersey: Okay, I looked at the site and it is fine—but it duplicates Cosmo, Glamour, and a whole lot of other print magazines that presumably have their own websites.
Which is to say: it skews young.
Which is also fine, BUT, I am writing to ask whether there are any—ANY—webzines at all that target single, childless women over 35 who are NOT in nor actively seeking, a relationship?
We are probably the largest underserved "magazine" demographic in the US. And our numbers are growing. We have disposable income, control a fair amount of wealth, and have interests that range much more widely than children, shoes, and holding on to a man, which are the mainstays of most women's magazines and Web sites, including XX.
I keep thinking of starting up something online for such women. I don't think there's anything, anything at all, out there for us. I could visualize a lot of advertising revenue—e.g. Home Depot advertising "extreme beginner's" home repair courses that don't assume you know ANYTHING. Do any of you know whether there are any webzines like this out there?
Emily Bazelon: I'm interested that you think the site skews young. Today we have pieces about Elizabeth Edwards, the Supreme Court, and reminiscences from famous women, most of them older, about who they wanted to be when they were a little girl. It's true there's some content for parents, too, and maybe for you that's off-putting. But our hope is that our readers will pick and choose and find something they like.
Baltimore: I know you don't want to segment your audience too much, but could you devote some space to stylish, reasonably priced fashion for the older than 40 crowd? I see so many women in the 40-50 age range who are wearing clothes that are either too young or too old for them. Can't find a decent line of clothing that is hip and not frumpy for the 40+ age group. Hey, we still care about how we look! Help!!!
Emily Bazelon: That's a great suggestion. We definitely want to run pieces and slideshows etc that are relevant to readers in the 40-plus age group. We'll keep this specific idea in mind!
Bowie, Md.: Is your site at some point going to address the role of woman-centric economics in contributing to the current financial situation? So far, we keep reading about Wall Street quants, but at the grass-roots level, we also see:
Women took out a disproportionate number of sub-prime mortgages. The most obvious excess in commercial real estate was building shopping malls selling primarily to women. Women drove the real estate market for bigger houses.