Daily Life editor: I warned my bosses of social media apocalypse over patronising label

womens perspectiveThe editor of Fairfax Media’s female-focused section Daily Life has moved to distance herself from the decision to link to the site from the publisher’s mastheads via the label “women’s perspective”.

The move – part of a redesign of smh.com.au and theage.com.au to coincide with the switch of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to compact format – created consternation on social media with “women’s perspective” labelled patronising and old fashioned.

But Sarah Oakes, editor of Daily Life has this afternoon written a column revealing that her bosses had overruled her opposition.

twitter on daily lifeShe wrote: “The news hit social media with an audible thud. A site which has, since launch, rallied against the old-fashioned, patronising ideas of women and women’s content that so much of our media, politics and workplaces are filled with was now presenting readers with a summary of itself in the very tone it rallied against.”

And she went on:

“This title was not Daily Life’s decision. As the Editor I have waged an exhaustive campaign warning people of the social media apocalypse that would await us if it was called the wrong name. Begging to trade words like “female” for “women” or for us not to have a tagline at all.

“Sadly though, this campaign failed. It fell victim to a corporate need for a uniform approach, even when it proved nigh impossible to reduce Daily Life to a shorty, pithy label.”

Oakes finished the piece by inviting readers to offer their own two word descriptions of Daily Life.

Update: Comments on Oakes’ piece asking for feedback have now been closed. She has tweeted: “Our title on the @theage and @smh homepages is now “Daily Life” but feel free to keep suggesting titles to @DailyLifeAu or on our Facebook.


  1. happy girl
    4 Mar 13
    3:40 pm

  2. ironically, or typically for Fairfax, the woman’s perspective on the name changes is not a welcome perspective. doubt you’d ever see a male editor’s view on a name change overruled.

  3. Liz
    4 Mar 13
    3:40 pm

  4. I’ve been thinking for a while that there’s a bit of a battle going on there – between the general women’s interest pieces many women would prefer to read, and the more hard-line ‘what’s wrong with the world’ pieces that it seems some of the journos would prefer to write.

  5. lord
    4 Mar 13
    3:46 pm

  6. Actually – I work at Fairfax and followed the development. This piece is crap. The Daily Life editorial team had big input into that name. How unfortunate things like this can spiral.

    As a bloke I think its funny that WOMEN is such a dirty word nowadays. Except at mamamia, no wonder they’re cleaning up the $$$$.

  7. Greg
    4 Mar 13
    4:02 pm

  8. I know a bunch of people who worked really hard down here at THE AGE getting the new home page ready for today – and we’re gutted with this carry on by a editor who is meant to be one of us. What a shame an indulgent piece like this was ran in Sydney attempting to overshadow everyone’s work.

  9. Liz
    4 Mar 13
    4:20 pm

  10. It’s silly and patronising, but I see the dilemma they had.

    Much of the ‘Daily Life’ content could easily sit within the Lifestyle section – if you look at both of them today, you’ll see a great deal of content overlap.

    Without the separation of the Women’s Perspective tag, that’s where Daily Life’s would go.

    And perhaps that’s where it should go.

    My suggestion? Merge Daily Life and Lifestyle, and make that – general Lifestyle – the stand alone site.

  11. Tamz
    4 Mar 13
    4:27 pm

  12. @Lord – it’s not that WOMEN is a dirty word, more that I feel that the perspective of 50 per cent of the population should be adequately covered in general news, not relegated to a mere section.

  13. Clementine
    4 Mar 13
    4:45 pm

  14. Greg, it’s a shame that you feel your efforts have been overshadowed today. But that isn’t the fault of the ‘carry-on’ of one editor. Rather, it seems to be the fault of people higher up who wouldn’t listen to her objections or warnings about how this would play out on social media. Sarah Oakes didn’t start a war on Twitter – the people who read Daily Life and were insulted by its marginalization were the ones who elevated this into a story that needed to be responded to. If you want to blame anyone, you should blame the people who saw fit to establish a section called ‘Women’s Perspective’ in a newspaper supposedly directed at everyone.

  15. Adam Jamison
    4 Mar 13
    5:18 pm

  16. I’m with Greg, what a shame the hardworking teams had this paraded around today of all days.
    Daily Life has humiliated plenty of us editorial peeps with its carry on on an eventful day. No unity.
    Daily Life has descended into an angry site that people like Clementine use as a platform to rant while feeding off Fairfax. -Worse – boring and not what it once was.
    Who really cared about the label? Talk about perspective.

  17. Fairfax Pleb
    4 Mar 13
    5:27 pm

  18. I worked here late last night to get smh.com.au ready. It looks fantastic and we’re all proud of the many hours and days we put into it.
    So a lot of us a disappointed about this stupid protest – and yes its indulgent. Does anyone honestly care except a bunch of internet trolls? Couldn’t this have been sorted out by the editor in a less public manner? Get over yourself. Super annoyed.

  19. News Man
    4 Mar 13
    5:28 pm

  20. I just say Thanks to the editor for exposing the fights at Fairfax, we’re cracking up here at NEWS. No one would have heard or cared less before editor piece was written!

  21. James
    4 Mar 13
    5:29 pm

  22. She warned her boss? Who is her boss? Garry Linnell??

  23. Not A Woman
    4 Mar 13
    5:32 pm

  24. Couldn’t she have just gone to HR?

  25. Not A Woman
    4 Mar 13
    5:34 pm

  26. Liz, you’re right, Daily Life should just merge into Life&Style, I’d say its days are numbered after this public tantrum!

  27. Jammer
    4 Mar 13
    5:51 pm

  28. Apocalypse?? Most punters hadn’t heard about it until the editor wrote about it! Thought it was a site targeting women’s audience…no? Isn’t it written from female perspective? Hoopla and the Mia freedman site must be laughing…not sure they shy away from Women

  29. Groucho
    4 Mar 13
    6:22 pm

  30. Hell hath no fury…………………………

  31. Avid Online Reader
    4 Mar 13
    6:27 pm

  32. Well done to the editor for speaking up.

    You reap what you sew. As per usual the accosting, power hungry, self obsessed game players changed the title and fcked it all up.

    You see this in many corporations and sadly this proves that there are people making decisions at Fairfax who do not understand basic publishing. Sadly, it would also appear that they are sexist, or ignorant, either way you could coin both of those terms into, erm; ‘stupid’. It does amaze me how people with zero awareness are able to climb the ladder to decision making level.

    What a stupid decision. Again, good on the editor for speaking up, otherwise the community might assume it was her call and it wasn’t it was head in the clouds corporate management buffoons.

  33. Greg
    4 Mar 13
    6:35 pm

  34. Aren’t the corporate management buffoons paying her salary?

  35. Alan
    4 Mar 13
    6:38 pm

  36. Geez, twitter is starting to bore me. Just let people try to do their jobs for a minute. Does everything have to be whined at? No wonder people are so scared to create stuff these days. Outrage will kill all ideas, good bad or otherwise.

  37. Reader
    4 Mar 13
    6:39 pm

  38. A victory for the Internet trolls. Daily Life is an abysmal website that promotes mediocre writers, or to be more accurate mediocre ranters like clementine ford. It is an embarrassment to the fairfax brand.

  39. Greg
    4 Mar 13
    6:42 pm

  40. i just got onto that site and see its running an event called All About Women. But they’re not a site for women? They don’t like the word women?

  41. Reader
    4 Mar 13
    6:43 pm

  42. Jammer you are so right. The comments from the editor were ridiculous. Also ridiculous is women complaining about a website devoted to women’s perspectives being called what it is or what it aims to be.

    The truth is that dailylife is so narrow in its appeal that it does not speak for women only a small minority of women. Women’s Perspective wasn’t accurate enough. Maybe “angry, socialist women’s perspective” would work better.

  43. Bev
    4 Mar 13
    6:53 pm

  44. The fact that more people weren’t outraged by this is the most disturbing thing. seriously, women’s perspective? What kind of archaic bullsh*t is that? Up there with Girls on the Grill and Kochie’s Angels. Good on the editor for speaking out. her site is better than that, with brilliant thought provoking writing that is sadly lacking elsewhere in the media in this country.

  45. Mel
    4 Mar 13
    6:53 pm

  46. Oh dear, “you reap what you sew”? Not sure if that’s meant to be a ‘funny joke’ or just unfamiliarity with the phrase ‘you reap what you sow’.

    To the Fairfax workers upset that this drama has upstaged their relaunch: it doesn’t feel so good to have your hard work ignored, does it? Perhaps you could extrapolate this and imagine how infuriated female journalists working on Daily Life feel to be cloistered into a patronisingly named section way down the bottom of the homepage.

    The problem with Daily Life is that it was basically engineered as a Mamamia killer – a standalone site with its own discrete audience. It doesn’t work as a section within the new site structure.

    Some of its articles are quite polemical and political (for instance, today Anne Summers writes about political journalists’ assumption that Julia Gillard has already lost the election) and belong in the papers’ regular Opinion section. But most of its other content could easily be folded into the Lifestyle section and so now we’re seeing some odd double-ups eg Lifestyle “Michelle Bridges’ marriage breaks up”; Daily Life “Michelle Bridges assesses a new diet fad”

  47. Jammer
    4 Mar 13
    7:26 pm

  48. Agree, it started ok…but as their pin up hero would say ‘its lost its way’. For women, but don’t say women, but it has content for women, but don’t marginalize us as women.

    I’m sure the original bunch that created it are cringing. Linnell won’t be happy on this public tantrum.

  49. Andrew
    4 Mar 13
    7:33 pm

  50. I bet Linnell will be bidding farewell to that editor. Terrible look for Fairfax. On the upside, the new AGE home page is clean, smooth and easy so to the worker who beavered away getting it ready – its worth it – and I’ll pay for your journalism one day.

  51. Avid Online Reader
    4 Mar 13
    7:35 pm

  52. @Greg

    Possibly not for much longer. Small, passionate, expert publishers can set up in this digital age and secure market share. Large, dozy corporate publishers are being eaten by quality.

    They have lost their classifieds revenues and now their content is being produced better by others.

    It is an interesting space to watch (media / publishing). The Guardians launch will be interesting to watch.

  53. RoRo
    4 Mar 13
    7:44 pm

  54. When they’re not hopelessly amateurish the Daily Life’s writers are simply regurgitating any number of much smarter and more insightful bloggers. It really belongs in a student newspaper not on the homepage of Australia’s most respected publications.

  55. Jimbo
    4 Mar 13
    7:46 pm

  56. Extraordinary piece by the Daily Life editor which may well turn out to be a suicide note for her Fairfax career. Unfortunately it also shows the tone deaf nature of Fairfax management, who overrule editors based on “corporate strategy” instead of listening to the people who actually know who their audience is and what they want.

  57. Mr. PB
    4 Mar 13
    8:55 pm

  58. The mere fact that Fairfax employees are hopping on here and defending this case of indirect misogyny blows me away. In my professional life in the industry, I too have worked on projects that required months and months of work and my said work has not been appreciated for one reason or another. The difference between me and these Fairfax employees is that I did not go about and attempt to invalidate my users’ opinions and views.

    A label is more powerful than a bunch of words, it conveys connotation & meaning, and even if your work in the relaunch was unfortunately overshadowed by this, it doesn’t change the fact that a title named “Womens’ Perspective” is completely unacceptable in a continually progressive media environment (for the better).

    I’ve been trying hard to keep my trust with Fairfax as a loyal subscriber and reader for years, with this loyalty being tested issue after issue. This is the last straw – I’m taking my viewership elsewhere.

  59. Fatigued
    4 Mar 13
    9:19 pm

  60. Talk about airing your laundry. Linnell won’t muck around.

  61. Bill Posters
    4 Mar 13
    10:47 pm

  62. “I bet Linnell will be bidding farewell to that editor.”

    What, for being right?

  63. Self Indulgent
    4 Mar 13
    11:07 pm

  64. Yet a other sad day for a misguided irrellevant business. Social media is
    what it is- reading many of the comments above reminds me that old school hacks
    hate anyone commenting on their self indulgent drivel. RIP “news” Papers

  65. Larissa Martin
    5 Mar 13
    6:46 am

  66. I was a media journalist lucky enough to attend the launch event in Melbourne. It was a promising pitch. An innovative move for Fairfax launching a site targeting women with smart and irreverent opinion pieces.
    Daily Life launched strongly and kept the momentum going for a decent period. What a pity it has descended into a parody of days gone by – a card carrying angry ‘feminist’ platform. What a wasted opportunity. Lets hope the management ‘buffoons’ make a call on a new editorial direction soon.

  67. G Ginga
    5 Mar 13
    8:52 am

  68. The disappointing redesign notwithstanding, this is why brands like Fairfax are fast becoming irrelevant.

    What label is on a masthead has is navel-gazing. As is dealing with unemployed trolls on Twitter. And your audience also doesn’t care about broadsheet or compact. I bet they had countless 10-person meetings about this at Fairfax.

    Focus on growing an audience and the dollars follow.

  69. Science
    5 Mar 13
    9:00 am

  70. Interesting that it is obviously a space for women or about women but it should not be titled with that word. I wonder whether its existence is the real issue?

  71. Anon
    5 Mar 13
    2:53 pm

  72. As a reader of smh.com.au on the old layout I found it really annoying clicking on a unlabelled Daily Life link. I felt ambushed.

    Interfaces should be explicit. Links that take you to a different content area should be explicitly labelled, it’s basic usability.

    Semantically any label for Daily Life is going to boil down to “this is content for/by females” while some of the language will be more or less palatable (or offensive) to the target demographics.

  73. Jammer
    5 Mar 13
    6:28 pm

  74. We’re still chuckling over ‘apocalypse’.
    What a melodramatic flare up over nothing.

  75. Apocolyptic
    5 Mar 13
    9:30 pm

  76. Is this Daily Life editor Mayan or something?

  77. Richard Moss
    12 Mar 13
    4:41 pm

  78. There was an old story told of a man ( it could just as easily have been a woman) who, having lost sixpence out on main street, spent hours looking for it in the lower area of the street where it was known to be lost , but as the light failed, he/she graduated to the higher part of the street ; not because there was the slightest hope of finding it, but because there was a streetlamp there.

    In short, if there is a platform, then people will stand upon it.
    Social media? Well, who are these people? In days of yore they were called “the great unwashed” or “the 75 IQ,” the “plebs,” the “peasants.”

    Something ( I have no idea what) changed all that, and now they are the voice of the people, the discerning cry of the world.

    I am not quite qualified to hold an opinion on this, because I do not belong to Facebook or Twitter etc, neither have I ever read a so called “male interest ” page or section in my life.
    I learned much about social aspects and human interest by reading my mother’s magazines when I was a lad.

    Nothing changes in spite of social shifting. The business of being a man and the business of being a woman has always been a highly individual occupation.

  79. Proud male
    27 Mar 13
    2:25 pm

  80. Dinosaur marketers at large
    In the early 90’s I spent considerable time developing a program to enhance a particular auto brands approach to the female buyer. Following a bit of target focus it became evident that women, whilst wanting extra focus on issues important to them, did not want to be identified as having special focus – they just wanted to be treated equal. We came up with a neutral name which spoke of equality.

    In reality women are just the same as men….they both view things from their own point of view. I have often wondered why we dont just get on with life.

    If there is no provison for women e.g. gentlemens clubs then women want in.
    But then women want there own gender gyms. If there is a section of a medium catering to those issues of higher priority to women it becomes sexist; if there are not it becomes exclusive. there is no win – win with this.

    Is there any difference in the editorial provided by daily life ? if so, why? Does the label reflect the key differentiator? if so why is that a problem? Do woman have a problem having a perspective?? Or are you telling us that not focussing specifically on you is the way to go?? treat you the same as men? Hmmmm not sure that works for you either. Nature created male & female as compliments to each other not as imitators of each other.