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Houston Breakthrough

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Houston Breakthrough
TypeMonthly newspaper
FormatTabloid
Founder(s)Janice Blue
Gabrielle Cosgriff
FoundedJanuary 1976 (1976-01)
LanguageEnglish
Ceased publicationJanuary 1981 (1981-01)
HeadquartersHouston, Texas

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Houston Breakthrough: Where Women Are News was a monthly feminist newspaper founded in Houston, Texas, by Janice Blue and Gabrielle Cosgriff.

Background[edit]

Blue and Cosgriff were members of the National Organization for Women's Media Reform Task Force. Tired of seeing women's news ignored or trivialized in the press, and on television and radio, the pair launched the publication to improve the image of women in the media.[1] Breakthrough was designed to give women's news the attention it deserved at a time when traditional papers relegated it to a "women's section."[2]

The publication's title was taken from the landmark feminist novel La Brecha (Breakthrough) written by Chilean author Mercedes Valdivieso two years before Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.[3]

The weekly was primarily a political newspaper. It contained information on legislation affecting women and articles on women's issues: childcare, single parenting, abortion, rape, displaced homemakers and violence in the schools. But, Blue and Cosgriff considered it an alternative newspaper, noting "all issues are women's issues."[1] The paper operated as a volunteer effort with more than 500 writers, photographers, artists, news carriers and sales people giving of their time.[4]

Men worked on the paper[3] and made up 8% of the readership.[5]

The first issue ran in January 1976. The date was chosen to coincide with the start of the U.S. Bicentennial year.[3] The last issue covered December 1980/January 1981. Instead of a November 1977 issue, Breakthrough staff produced three daily issues during the International Women's Year Conference.[6] Blue and Cosgriff raised advertising revenues to pay for 30,000 copies each day, which were distributed free of charge to the delegates.[7]

In 1977, the staff took a survey of Breakthrough's readers. Responses showed 92% were female; of those 91% were white/Anglo, 5% black and 2% brown/Hispanic. In the age category, 4% were 18 to 25 years old, 60% were 25 to 45, and 23% were older than 45. Forty-four percent had a master's degree or above, 36%, a bachelor's degree, 17%, some college, and 1%, a high school education. Fifty-eight percent were employed full-time. Ninety-four percent had voted in the previous election.[5]

The paper's fifth anniversary issue was also its last. The founders expressed regret, as well as a sense of accomplishment, noting they had filled a need in the community that had been neglected by the local press. Breakthrough had always operated with limited resources, the founders wrote, "To continue publication would demand more personal and financial commitments than we are able to afford."[6]

A near-complete run of the paper has been digitized and is available online.[6]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Zajac, Pat (September 23, 1979). "The fight for truth, justice and 'no anti-male garbage'". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  2. West, Richard (March 1976). "The Texas Monthly Reporter". Texas Monthly (Volume 4, Issue 3). Mediatex Communications Corp.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Janice Blue". Veteran Feminists of America, YouTube. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  4. "Revelations, Our First Five Years". Houston Breakthrough (January 1981).
  5. 5.0 5.1 "What Kind of Person Reads Breakthrough?". Houston Breakthrough (Volume II, Number 10). December 1977.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Houston Breakthrough: Where Women Are News". Houston LGBT History. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  7. "36-page Daily at Women's Conference Available as Historic & Human Account". Media Report to Women (Volume 5, Number 12). December 1, 1977.



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