“News was never this gray, aging entity to me. It was more like young love, that reckless attraction that consumes you entirely, until one day – suddenly — you snap out of feeling enamored and realize you’ve got to detach. I left news, not because I didn’t love it enough, but because I loved it too much – and I knew it was going to ruin me.” - Former reporter Allyson Bird describes why she left her newspaper job.
Bird’s story speaks to many people’s experiences with the news industry (mine included). But I believe her experience is especially common for women. A study I presented earlier this year noted that young women looking to go into journalism often describe it using similar love language. They “fell in love” with it, and it is, as she describes, all-consuming. Bird’s comment here speaks to what happens to that love over time.
Explore findings from The Gender Report’s six-month Byline Report project. This project examined the gender breakdown of bylines at six online news websites weekly based on the sites’ RSS feeds. Check it out here.
“The best way to break men’s false assumptions about how a woman will use a computer—in the developing world or the developed—is to give her one and see what she does with it.” - Elizabeth Weingarten in an article about a new “Women and the Web” report released by the U.S. State Department, Intel and U.N. Women
They live in a world where becoming a leader anywhere—let alone in technology—is statistically far less likely than for a boy on the same block, in the same house. They live in a world where the chance of seeing a children’s TV character that is female and a scientist is far less likely than seeing one who is hypersexualized. A world where being bullied online for the way they look—being criticized for not fitting a false ideal of beauty—is the norm. And being praised for an interest in engineering or math is an exceedingly rare exception.” - Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jean Kilbourne in the article for The Daily Beast following a sexist ad by a tech company.
Recently the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger decided to share the story of her rape. Mallary Jean Tenore at Poynter talked to Henneberger and reflected on what her experience should illustrate to newsrooms:
“One in six women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime…. Based on those figures, someone in your newsroom has been sexually assaulted.
Being aware of this reality informs our decisions when we assign stories and report them. When we understand that sexual assault is common, we’re less likely to make assumptions about our colleagues and our sources. We may also be less inclined to make comments that belittle the severity of sexual assault — and more inclined to cover it as an ongoing issue rather than as a one-time event.”
Check out findings from the first three months of The Gender Report’s Byline Report project. Bylines from six online news websites were counted including those at California Watch, the Center for Public Integrity, Politico (above), ProPublica, Slate and the Texas Tribune. View the results at the 3-month mark here.
Social media editor Liz Heron talks about attempts to broaden the Wall Street Journal’s audience — including targeting younger, female readers.
According to the article, WSJ’s “audience is predominantly male (82 percent), with an average age of 57. For comparison’s sake, The New York Times, where Heron left her social media position last spring, claims an equal male-female readership with an average age of 51.”
The Women’s Media Center’s Name It. Change it. recently gave out awards for the most sexist media coverage of female politicians during the 2012 election. Here’s an example:
“Most sexist interview question: This honor is shared by Chicago Sun-Times’s Dave McKinney, Fran Spielman, and Natasha Korecki, who co-wrote this interview with Illinois governor candidate Lisa Madigan where she was asked if she could handle the job of governor while being a mother to her two young children. Her response: “Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” Apparently, the Sun-Times does. Repeatedly.”
“When facing a general gender disadvantage, women journalists have had to rely on greater resources than their male counterparts to achieve equal success… Beyond talent and hard work, majoring in journalism, earning a graduate degree, a metropolitan upbringing, and employment with an elite publication such as the New York Times were among the things females needed to achieve this highest professional recognition. Male winners have not necessarily had to possess such high qualifications in order to win.” - Yong Volz, who along with Francis Lee studied biographical data from all 814 historical winners of the Pulitzer Prize from 1917 to 2010. Of those 814 winners, 113 have been women.