Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New NBC series on "contemporary women"

by Gracie Remington

Color me moderately intrigued: NBC will devote a significant portion of its news broadcasting time to the evolving roles of contemporary women. These broadcasts will focus on a study conducted by Maria Shriver on the consumer behavior of women. Shriver, a former NBC correspondent (and current spouse of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), will appear on the October 18's broadcast of "Meet the Press" to kick start the programming, and will serve as a "guest editor" for the entire series, which will encompass not only NBC but CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, and the website iVillage. The project is billed as an attempt to "educate the public on the current state of women in America". Coverage pertaining to the study will be broadcast over the course of a full week on NBC's evening newscasts as well as three morning segments on the channel's "Today" show.

"The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," is a non-government based study modeled another study conducted during the JFK years, spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt (JFK was Shriver’s uncle). While the scope of the current study is vaguely referred to as an investigation into female consumer behavior, buying power, and their respective impact on advertising and the marketplace, Lauren Zalaznick, the president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment networks called the study "eye-opening." Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, said that he had not yet seen the results, but that it "seemed like a natural idea to do news stories that look at these issues."

While both the study and its potential findings intrigue me, the focus on women's consumer behavior slightly rubs me the wrong way. Purchasing power is of incredible importance, undoubtedly, but focusing on spending in a time of economic crisis (and when there are so many other gender-based injustices that go under-discussed and unnoticed) seems to be in poor taste. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Shriver has found with regard to women and their spending habits and how it can prompt advertisers and the market to change their behaviors towards female consumers. I'll be tuning in.

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