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Glamour News Editor Ellen Kampinsky Talks to CJP

Topic: CJP Interviews | By CJP | December 12, 2007

glamocracy-logo.jpg Janes, when CJP was getting ready to jump off the high dive into the political blogosphere, we were warned that it’s no place for ladies with weak constitutions. But guess what- the water’s fine! And look who else is getting in at the deep end of online political journalism- the venerable “Glamour” magazine.

On Monday, “Glamour” launched its political blog “Glamocracy,” a blog-a-day format featuring five women from five distinctly different political perspectives. CJP spoke with Ellen Kampinsky, the news editor at “Glamour”, about the new blog, “Glamour’s” plans for covering the 2008 elections and what the presidential candidates should be doing to reach the “Glamour” girl demographic this year….

CJP: How did the “Glamocracy” blog come about?

EK: It came up as we were discussing our political coverage. We have 12 million young women readers in their 20s and 30s and we wanted to give them a fresh perspective, a young woman’s perspective, on this race. So we came up with the idea to have a blog that would have young woman commentators, all under 40, from across the political spectrum.

We have a liberal, a conservative, an African American, a Muslim American, a college student who happens to be a Hispanic American. And none of those lines are mutually exclusive of course, and some of those are not political distinctions, but we were trying to get a full spectrum of political opinions and views, so that’s why we came up with those five young women who are all

wonderful writers as well.

CJP: Do you assign them topics or do they come to you with ideas?

EK: It’s a discussion, because we want them to be very topical. We want this to be a conversation about what’s taking place in the political news of the day. So another editor and I will have a discussion with each of the writers on a daily basis. They’ll tell us what they’re thinking about, we’ll tell them what we’re thinking about, and we try to come to an understanding about what’s going to be the most interesting topic for our readers.

CJP: Is it one woman’s column each day?

EK: Yes, with the understanding also that even on the days that a given women is not writing her assigned blog, she can jump in at any point to comment on the other women’s postings.

CJP: So it will be like a conversation between the five writers?

EK: Yes, and also the readers. We launched Monday and it has already turned out to be one of our most popular blogs.

CJP: Where does the blog fit in with the political coverage that “Glamour” is planning for 2008?

EK: Political coverage has always been very important to “Glamour.” For many years we’ve had a Washington, D.C. correspondent to keep us abreast of what’s happening on the political front.

During the 2004 elections, we did a lot of political coverage, including being one of the first to notice the phenomenon among what we call the “High Heel Vote,” which was the precipitous downturn in voting among young women voters. You could actually chart it to see where women over 65 were voting at a 75 percent rate, which dropped considerably between 40 and 65. When you got to 30 and under it was around 22%. We jumped on that quickly and it got picked up a lot.

In the magazine, we had the two nominees write letters to their daughters about what they wanted their administrations to mean for young women. We also did a lot of polls to show what our readers were thinking about the 2004 election, and our plans are equally ambitions for 2008.

CJP: What are those plans?

EK: In addition to the daily political presence that we have now with the blog, we will be having Tonya Lewis Lee, who is an author and lawyer and wife of Spike Lee, interview the candidates’ spouses. (Lee has already written about Michelle Obama.) We will have monthly online polls, finding out about what our readers are thinking about and the results will run in the magazine. Of course we’ll be doing something in depth with the nominees themselves as we get closer to the election. Our readers want and expect that information from us.

CJP: Do you have any advice for the campaigns about how to reach this demographic of young women? Is there something that they are not doing that they should be doing?

EK: I think young women need to be spoken to directly. They have issues that they don’t always see addressed by national candidates. They can always come on the “Glamocracy Blog” and post with us and we’ll be happy to take their opinion. Some have already expressed interest in doing that.

CJP: Are you noticing an increased interest among young women this year that you didn’t see four or eight years ago?

EK: Yes. We recently did an online poll and asked readers, “Are you planning to vote in the 2008 elections?” Ninety-six percent said yes.

CJP: Are there special challenges for a fashion magazine in covering politics? What does “Glamour” do to keep it interesting for readers?

EK:Glamour” has always covered politics, and that’s been part of our legacy for years. We really look at the whole woman. She’s interested in fashion and hair and make-up, but she’s also interested in issues that affect her life directly. A real part of our mission at “Glamour” is writing about women who are making a difference, and what makes more of a difference than politics?