Introducing... The Spread!
The best of women’s media in a post-newsstand world—delivered right to your internet mailbox.
It started with an early morning text: “At newsstand. No new magazines??? WTF??” It was 7 am. Our friend Olivia had already crammed the family carry-ons full of backup masks, germaphobe wipes, turkey jerky, noise-cancelling headphones—all the survival gear necessary for that first cross-country flight since the Before Times. She’d hauled her kids out of bed, into a taxi, and through the security gauntlet at JFK. She had been shoeless, scanned, patted down, and exposed to God knows what. Now she was ready—nay, she needed—the only truly good thing that can happen at an airport: The magazine fix. She needed crisp, juicy pages rich with stories from an unabashedly female-centric world: Stories guaranteed to transport her far from the ills and irritants of air travel en famille. But at the newsstand, no dice. You may not be shocked to hear, the pickings were slim in more ways than one.
Olivia’s text got our wheels turning. As a pair of lifelong magazine fiends and career editors, we know the reality of the women’s magazine biz all too well. It’s rough out there. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, we also believe that reports of the death of women’s magazines have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, print editions are dropping like flies. (Adieu to the pages of Glamour, Nylon, Self, and, as of this month, Marie Claire). Yet we find ourselves overwhelmed by a vast array of “women’s media” that’s still out there, competing for our dwindling attention spans and our precious dollars. In addition to the women’s titles still valiantly raging against the dying of the light, scores of general-interest publications are tackling ideas and subjects that, not long ago, were relegated to the pink pages. Add to that the women’s sites, the quirky one-woman’s-voice newsletters, the untold hours of podcasts, all pumping out stories from a broader, more diverse, and more interesting array of voices than ever.
The problem, as we see it, is not that women’s media is dying. Indeed, with fascinating women of color at the helm of Harper’s Bazaar, the Cut, Refinery 29, Teen Vogue, Allure—not to mention Vanity Fair, T, and Pitchfork—a strong case could be made that women’s media is seeing the light for the first time in history. No, the problem is that women’s stories are coming at us from all directions. Without the one-stop-shop convenience of the newsstand, there is so much to read and yet, more often than not, it feels like there’s nothing to read. As our wise friend Olivia would say, WTF?
Call us a couple of nerds, but we thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reading list? One that would put great women’s stories from across the spectrum of publication, platform, and format, all in one place? One that would skip the fluff (the dumb fluff, not the fun fluff), the spon-con, the obligatory canned ideas that keep the advertisers happy—and let us sink into the really rich, delicious, great stuff?
Meet the Spread. In this weekly newsletter (and companion site), we—Rachel Baker and Maggie Bullock—are your nose-to-the-ground truffle hunters, sharing the best articles we can unearth for, by, or about women. The Spread is where you will find, each week, a fresh batch of smart, weird, deeply reported, knock-your-socks-off women’s stories. Stories that examine identity and belonging, relationships and intimacy, ambition, lust, materialism. That unlock the mysteries of how our bodies work and convey the unique experience of living inside of them. Stories that introduce us to people we’ve never heard of, but will never forget. Or that reveal a different side of a person we think we already know everything there is to know about. Stories that draw context around the clothes we want to wear, the food we want to eat, the movies we love to loathe, and the lipstick shade we all, somehow, gravitate to at a given moment. Stories that scratch the itch—you know the one we mean. Stories you don’t want to miss.
The Spread will be a team effort—a community, if you will— made richer by readers’ suggestions, tips, and feedback. Send us the essay you couldn’t put down! Tell us about the podcast episode that blew your mind, or made you blow your top—or the new writer whose every story and post you are devouring. Want to sound off on a genius/infuriating investigation? We. Are. Here. To. Spread. The. Word. (In one email a week, folks. No spam here. We don’t have the bandwidth to spam you.)
All you have to do is sign up. For free. No strings attached. May we suggest you take the plunge with us: Right here, right now?
And don’t be a stranger. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel & Maggie