- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2000

The only poll at the Ladies Home Journal Web site yesterday was simple enough: Would you ever go to a topless beach?
Along with discussion groups about unplanned pregnancy and a recipe for the "perfect yellow sheet cake," the site is not exactly a hotbed of political awareness.
All that may change, however.
The 116-year-old publication announced yesterday it had joined forces with Ivillage.com, the world's busiest women's interest Web site.
The pair have created Election 2000 a "comprehensive multimedia program to furnish women with the most extensive information, tools and forums to make political decisions."
No sheet cakes are in sight.
It is "a critical platform to ensure that the candidates are listening to the women's agenda."
This is not the first political outreach to the home-and-garden set.
Several media conglomerates have made politics more palatable to women who prefer their content emotionally engaging and quick to digest.
Dull old politics has gone to the beauty parlor, repackaged into something personal, practical and acutely attuned to feminine issues du jour.
It's somewhere between girl talk and an old-fashioned women's voting drive, part touchy-feely and part community involvement, trimmed with cutting-edge technology.
Last year, Good Housekeeping combined with www.Women.com, another on-line network, to create Majority 2000, complete with comprehensive and at times surprising surveys of women's relationships with politics.
The poll of some 6,600 found 58 percent of women felt the Republican party "best served the interest of men," yet George W. Bush received the most votes in a theoretical presidential poll.
Women vote "with their heads not their hearts," the survey found, influenced by issues first, then the personal appeal of the candidates. Political parties placed a distant third.
"If you think men and women don't understand each other's politics, you're right," the poll noted under a section called "Mars, Venus and Uncle Sam."
Nevertheless, women said they formed political opinions through "pillow talk" with their spouses, or by talking with their mothers.
This newly remade political hybrid, nestling comfortably among recipes, makeup hints and advertisements, has a huge potential audience.
Ladies Home Journal has a reading audience of 16 million. Ivillage is the world's busiest Internet destination for women between the ages of 25 and 54, and is rife with interactive features and chatty appeal.
The pair which bill themselves as "co-brands" have joined forces "to make sure that the concerns of today's female electorate are heard loud and clear," said Nancy Evans, who founded Ivillage in 1995.
"The issues that once were important only to women are now important to everyone," said Journal editor Myrna Blyth.
In the coming months, the venture will include in-depth reports, town-hall meetings, discussion groups, polls and "non-partisan editorial content, in association with the League of Women Voters."
The information will be available in the magazine and on its Web site (www.lhj.com), and at Ivillage (www.ivillage.com).
Is there a women's market for news, politics and other traditionally male-dominated media pursuits?
One 1998 media consumption survey from the Pew Research Center reported that 71 percent of women regularly watch network news, 87 percent watch local news and 82 percent read newsmagazines. These figures outrank corresponding media habits of men.
Politicians, meanwhile, do not dismiss these efforts by any means.
Ivillage already has hosted live chats with Vice President Al Gore, Sen. John McCain, former Sen. Bill Bradley, and New York senatorial candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. For its part, the Journal has interviewed Laura Bush, Tipper Gore, Cindy McCain and Ernestine Bradley.
There's more to come. A million copies of "O," Oprah Winfrey's new magazine, go on sale tomorrow. Linked to the Oxygen television network and underwritten by Disney, it promises to "bring a breath of fresh air to the male-oriented worlds of the Internet and cable."
About that topless beach just for the record 60 percent of women reported they would not pay the place a visit.

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