This is why we need more women in media

In the last six months or so, Chicago has had its fair share of townhalls and gatherings trying to figure out what the heck is happening with corporate media. What will happen when the newspapers finally fail? Will they? Where did the journalists go? After the first townhall, that I had to miss, another conference was called. In the lead up to both events, I tweeted my desire to see gender parity on the panels.

My tweets were replied to with “we’re trying!” Apparently most of the kick ass women (and people of color) in Chicago media were busy both days.

I know some people just don’t get it. I know people close to me don’t get it. They don’t understand why women need to be at the freaking table, in the newsroom and holding the editor’s red pen – it’s just as simple as women see things differently. Not better, not worse, just differently.

The latest example is the WaPo “Mouthpiece Theater” fiasco that ended with WaPo pulling the plug. Two men thought that calling the Secretary of State a “bitch” was funny. Not only was it not funny and not because the joke flopped, but it’s old and tired. Seriously, guys can’t you come up with something new? So some of us angry feminists wrote a letter demanding an apology. And gosh darn it, it freaking worked! OK, we didn’t get two full apologies, but hey, no more crappy videos from WaPo…for now.

Now I’m the last person to say you can never use the word “bitch.” I am one. I have friends who are bitches. But it’s all about context and that includes who is wielding the word.

Of course we can’t be sure that if a random woman at WaPo had screened the video before hand would have said, “Dude…We can’t air that.” Why? Because some women, I use to be one of them, know that there is power in being “one of the guys.” You are constantly proving that you need to be where you are and you choose your battles. Is sticking up for Hillary Clinton worth it? Maybe? Maybe not.

But women have different perspectives on things. We know that. And as I said before, it’s DIFFERENT not better, not worse.

If a newspaper decides to go online only, does that mean they will resort to T&A on the website for increased clickage to up the ad revenue ala HuffPo?  Some women might be ok with that and others not. But giving their voices a place to be heard is a must.

That’s just one example of how having women at the decision table is important. Is the fact that yet another mass shooting had gender as a focal point important?  How are rape stories covered? Are there enough women’s health stories? Is there enough content that is important to women that they even want to read your newspaper? We’re not all looking for fashion and Hollywood gossip. Maybe we’d like to read about our baseball team without having to see strong women athletes treated as pin up girls in the sports pages?

Having more women in the newsroom, in media itself, just might ensure that there is a critical enough mass that if something is offensive to one woman, she’d feel like she could say something.

7 comments for “This is why we need more women in media

  1. peanutbutter
    August 6, 2009 at 12:50 am

    The huffpo example is dispiriting inasmuch as that blog was presumably STARTED by a woman *sigh*

    (Not disagreeing with your main thesis, just appalled at what huffpo is now…)

  2. August 6, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Right on!

  3. August 6, 2009 at 8:13 am

    We need more aware people of all genders, ethnicities and ages in the media and in all other industries. We also need them to be vocal and passionate about challenging the status quo.

  4. August 6, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I saw the shameful video display over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog. I don’t know which gives me more distress: the video itself, or Kurtz’ response, and I’m paraphrasing, “two smart guys who did a dumb thing.”

  5. Veronica
    August 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Joy-Mari: totally agree with you. As you can see from the people on the panels at the Chicago media townhalls, it was very white dude all around.

    peanutbutter: And huffpo is a great example that even when women are at the helm of things, it doesn’t mean squat for feminism or fair representation of women.

  6. Louise
    August 6, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    If you are interested to find out more about gendered newsrooms, perhaps you might like to read my book just published by Hampton Press “The Gendered Newsroom: How journalists experience the changing world of media”.
    Louise North

  7. Georgia
    August 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    re: T&A

    I’m okay with T&A, in fact, I love it, so long as
    a)It is wholesome T&A, the women are not bending in an unnatural or impossible position (Rob Liiiieeeeefeld!), is it preferably fitting to the situation or at least not too out of place. A female character posing sexily for her boyfriend as a part of her private life, yes, in the middle of battle, NO.
    b)Equal Opportunity, we’ll like BEEFCAKE, as much as there are T&A. I love X-Men First Class, because for Jean in a bikini, we got Bobby and Scott in swimming trunks…they should have brought in the colourists for Deadpool to properly highlight the male arses, but hey, they put in effort on the abs, I’m cool with it.

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