Old News #5
In 2008, the sixth largest Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet changed their layout and their editorial policy of, among other things, having a naked girl on page 9 of the daily newspaper. The Page 9-girl had been featured on page 9 since 1976. Unlike other European tabloid papers, Ekstra Bladet has over the years presented and promoted images of the local Danish girl rather than photographs of professional nude models. In its new layout Ekstra Bladet will still present girls in the newspaper, but not always naked and not only on page 9. According to the newspaper, they are doing so to become more ‘female-friendly’ and to reach out to their female readers.“ We have to recognize that the Page 9-girl is not what she was 20 years ago. We will still have a picture of a girl in the newspaper from Monday to Saturday – she has just been relocated to another page. And sometimes she will be wearing clothes. The neighbour’s daughter has become more chaste,” said Ekstra Bladet’s chief editor Poul Madsen in connection with the launch of Ekstra Bladet’s new layout.
The free daily paper Nyhedsavisen’s comment on Madsen’s statement and the new approach to naked women was: “If the neighbour’s daughter is one of those girls with long scarves, always wearing a piece of cloth around her head, you would agree with him. Whether Ekstra Bladet is hereby making a genuflection to Muslim immigrants and their strained relationship to nudity, sexuality and human freedom is not clear.” Ekstra Bladet’s photo editor Jan Unger also commented on the newspaper’s new policy: “ We must try to get a little wider contact with people who want to look at lovely ladies, because ladies with clothes on can also be interesting.” To prove that women with clothes on can be interesting, Ekstra Bladet has now given the women a personal profile. Before 2008, the daily Page 9-girl had only her name, age and city listed next to the image, but now there is a short text with quotes from each woman, describing her wishes, dreams and hobbies.
Jens Haaning has followed the development of Ekstra Bladet since 2008 as a study of newspaper rhetoric in Denmark, with particular focus on the portrayal of women. He has selected 33 Page 9-girls from Ekstra Bladet’s new concept and layout. The translations of the women’s individual profiles in Haaning’s 33 Page 9-girls are kept as close to the original Danish text as possible to retain the flavour of the journalistic approach to these women’s profiles.
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Malmö Konsthall, 2009