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Feminising Influences on Mass Circulation

Of the two papers, Le Petit Journal led the way with its content ‘tabloidisation’, although The Daily Mail is usually given credit for this by UK historians. In fact, Northcliffe’s diaries reveal that he visited the Paris H.Q of Le Petit Journal regularly for inspiration, studying operations carefully and befriending PJ director Marinoni prior to the Daily Mail launch in 1896. Project research also reveals the pioneering marketing foresight of PJ founder Millaud during the 1860s– a place in the history of the popular press previously attributed to Northcliffe at the turn of the century and beyond (largely due to claims by the latter in memoirs – that do not exist for Millaud).

The French press initiative in conservative feminisation has not previously been recognised by gender scholars either: they have tended to concentrate on the more positive side of emergent citizenship, exemplified by feminist pioneer role models. Thus the findings add a new contribution to discourses on French modernity and women’s history in both countries. As such they supplement research on the varying representations of women that figured prominently as content in literature and art during the second half of the 19th century, and resonate with some of today’s media stereotyping of women.