Women Writing Rights

The discrimination of female music journalists


Women Writing Rights

The idea for Women Writing Rights as my final Masters project originated from the Woman's Hour episode on Woman and Music Journalism on Radio 4. On the programme, '70s Melody Maker writer Caroline Coon said: “Walking into the Melody Maker office was like a black footballer going onto a football pitch and having bananas thrown at him.” I was intrigued.

Krissi Murison who was NME's editor at that time denied any real barriers when she got to the New Musical Express in the early noughties.

I don't know why, but my gut feeling was instantly saying: “I don't think so.” That's how it all began.

It's been a very rewarding experience throughout and any struggles usually left me with a clearer picture afterwards.

During interviews and conversations with industry professionals, people like Warner Music's Andy Prevezer and Kerrang! editor James McMahon argued against me. They argued that the ratio between men and women on music magazines' editorial staff was 50:50. Prevezer in particular could name plenty of female writers – of course because it's not 1970 anymore. Though surely if he had tried he could have listed so many more male music journalists.

It dawned on me that the term ‘editorial staff’ depends on its definition. Generally speaking, an editorial includes the editor, commission editors, but also the picture desk, art directors, designers and sub editors. In this respect, magazines like Kerrang! may have a 50:50 ratio, but if you look for women on editorial writing/ commissioning positions it's a very different story.

In the case of Kerrang! it means, for instance, that women occupy three out of nine jobs associated with writing.

As there were no statistics available to prove my point at the time I compiled my own ‘stats’ at Southampton Solent University's Library – the land of back issues.

I copied the mastheads of the July issues of Q, Mojo, Uncut and NME for the last decade to get a clearer idea on the situation during the noughties. I checked the gender of people occupying editorial staff positions associated with writing and commissioning. That's what I imply when referring to the ‘editorial staff’ throughout this website. The figures used in this project are the result of this research. Even though they are just momentary snapshots that would need more analysis in academic terms, they depict a general trend.

Unfortunately, my study couldn't include aspects of race, age and disability in this project as its size and production time was limited.

Gender equality is a long term project and that is what Women Writing Rights shows more than anything else.

It shall highlight that “without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.” (Audre Lorde 1984)


Ines Punessen

I’m a Brighton-based music and multimedia journalist with a strong background in academia. I completed a Masters in Multimedia Journalism at the University of Sussex as part of which Women Writing Rights came into life. Prior to that, I had embraced my passion for music writing and academic theories revolving around popular music discourse during my BA (Hons) in Popular Music Journalism. I also have an NCTJ Diploma which I passed with a gold standard.

My previous experience include internships at the promotional magazine of Germany's most listened-to radio station SWR3, regional radio broadcaster bigFM, regional newspaper Mannheimer Morgen and record labels City Slang and Cooperative Music in Berlin.

I’m currently writing for Curt Magazine Munich and occasionally contribute to the Pro Audio Web Blog and The Girls Are in London.



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