Feminising Influences on Mass Circulation

This study challenges the argument that the early mass circulation press increasingly catered for its female audience. Europe’s first popular daily- the French Le Petit Journal – was studied during its launch year of 1863, then again comparatively with Britain’s Daily Mail in 1896, the launch year of the latter. A shared emphasis on trivia, crime coverage and pulp serialised fiction demonstrates masculine perceptions of what female audiences wanted – doing no favours to the emergent suffragist movement. Commercial factors outweighed political ones. A 4 part categorization of the representation of women in articles as either ‘vicious’, ‘virtuous’, ‘victorious’ or ‘victims’ indicates these dailies defined female audience interest conservatively. The findings provide detailed comparison of cultural distinctions –French coverage tending towards the prurient and sensational, in contrast to the more positive British articles. Such insights contrast with existing more generalised discussion of the late 19th century mass circulation press.