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Boys Against Girls: the Brisbane Street Press, part 1

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If you’ve been reading Collapse Board in the last few weeks you will have noticed several related articles on sexism in music journalism, the lack of female voices in mainstream music criticism and the construction of female identity in Brisbane’s street press.

Based on this, I thought I’d look at the Brisbane street press in a bit more detail. The original reason was to just look at the male/female contributor split and see what it was, rather than just relying on unsubstantiated hearsay as to what proportion of music press contributors in Brisbane are female and how this might compare with elsewhere.

Here’s what I did:

  • I went through the masthead of each of Brisbane’s four weekly street press publications – Rave, Time Off, Scene and 3D World – in the edition that was published during the week of 31 January 2011. (I didn’t include Tsunami as it’s not weekly and concentrates on the music scene up on the Sunshine Coast).
  • If a contributor was called something like Darren, Steve or Tim, I assumed they were male.
  • If a contributor was called something like Sarah, Clare or Holly, I assumed they were female.
  • If a contributor was called something like Sam, Kim or Mel, I internet-stalked their name and variations of it to see if I could find out more information on which to make a decision.
  • If they had a more exotic name I internet stalked them, then did Google web and image searches on their first name, then checked out ‘Name Your Baby’-type websites.
  • If they called themselves something like Birdie, I assumed they were female.
  • If they called themselves something like Cyclone, I assumed they were male.
  • I also Facebook-stalked people through people I’m friends with, who work at/contribute to the publication in question. I also checked out the street press fan pages on Facebook.
  • If all else failed and I couldn’t tell either way I just assumed they were male.
  • No allowance was made for any George Eliot-types.

One thing I did learn from this exercise and that did surprise me is how few street press writers have blogs and collate their writing in one place that’s easy to find. And it was similar for a lot of the photographers. Maybe it’s just me, as a long-term blogger and street press photographer, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to show your work to the world and make it easy to find. Or even why you wouldn’t want to take advantage to extend yourself beyond street press’ restrictive word counts or the small amount of space that gets allocated each week to photos.

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