Posts Tagged ‘women’


Championing women every day

Margaret Brennan of CBS News interviewing former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015. (Photo: US Department of State/Flickr)

Next Thursday, International Women’s Day is observed – the day where women’s contributions to society, including in journalism, are celebrated.

Much of the conversation has been on the role of women in journalism in light of the #MeToo movement on social media and the sexual harassment allegations against prominent male media figures, including Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, Michael Oreskes, Garrison Keillor, Harvey Weinstein, and most recently, Tom Ashbrook.

Recent statistics from the Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit group in Washington, showcase a wide gender gap in journalism. On television, 74.8 percent of men report news compared to 25.2 percent of women. The 25.2 percent figure is a decline of last year’s amount of 32 percent of female reporters. PBS Newshour features the most female reporting versus the big three networks (PBS had 45 percent of content reported by women, versus 12 percent at ABC and 32 percent at both NBC and CBS).

In print, no outlet achieved gender parity. Men write 61.9 percent of the news, while women report 38.1 percent of the news. The widest gap is at the New York Daily News, where women write 24 percent of content compared to 76 percent of men, followed by USA Today (70 percent by men, 30 percent by women) and a tie between The Denver Post and The Wall Street Journal (66 percent by men, 34 percent by women). The New York Times has 61 percent of content written by men versus 39 percent by women, and The Washington Post has 57 percent of content written by women versus 43 percent by women.

On the web, men received 53.9 percent of bylines. At the four sites surveyed, The Daily Beast saw 38 percent of its bylines go to women, followed by CNN at 45 percent, The Huffington Post at 49 percent, and Fox News’ web site with 50 percent. At The Associated Press and Reuters, Reuters has more women having bylines than at the AP – 39 percent compared to 35 percent.

Meanwhile, at NPR, staff diversity figures published in January show that 56.2 percent of its newsroom is women, an increase from last year’s total of 55.1 percent.

At SPJ, of the 23 seats on the Board of Directors, 13 of those seats are occupied by women, including national President Rebecca Baker, President-Elect Alex Tarquinio and Secretary-Treasurer Patti Newberry. In its network of 5 communities, four of them are either chaired or co-chaired by women, while of its 9 committees, 6 of them are chaired or co-chaired by women. Additionally, Alison Bethel McKenzie was today appointed SPJ’s executive director, becoming the second woman in the organization’s history to hold the post.

Women and men enter this profession for similar reasons – to inform, educate and engage audiences about the world around them. Women’s contributions to this industry are just as important as men’s, and their work is just as important in showcasing journalism’s potential – whether its holding the powerful to account in the government or in one’s own organization, or helping to connect the dots so the public can be at its best.

Indeed, the stories that have emerged in light of the #MeToo movement indicate that much more needs to be done when it comes to supporting women in journalism – not just taking on the gender parity at organizations, but also improving workplace culture. Women should be allowed to practice journalism and complete this important work free from fear of intimidation and abuse. We all do this work to ensure the public is at their best – it is essential that all who work in journalism are at their best too.

Many prominent women in journalism come to mind, from Margaret Brennan at CBS; Mary-Louise Kelly and Tamara Keith at NPR; Courtney Norris at the PBS Newshour; Raney-Aronson Rath of Frontline; Kristen Hare of the Poynter Institute; Tory Starr of WGBH in Boston; Laura Yuen, Cathy Wurzer (also of Twin Cities PBS), Meg Martin and Laura McCallum at Minnesota Public Radio to Beth Francesco at the University of Texas at Arlington; Briana Bierschbach at MinnPost; all the women who helped organize and who are members of the LA Times guild; Laura Davis of the University of Southern California; journalists Torey Van Oot and Katie Hawkins-Gaar, and women coast to coast who seek the truth and report it.

Their work indicates that journalism is still a necessity in modern society. Their contributions should never be overlooked nor taken for granted.

The kick ass women who work in journalism should also be celebrated, not just on International Women’s Day, but on this day, and every single day.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

I stand with Carrie

As the Golden Globes prepared to get underway in Los Angeles, news came regarding a letter written by Carrie Gracie, a prominent journalist at the BBC. Gracie had stood down from her post as China Editor after it emerged that she was being paid 50 percent less than that of her male colleagues.

Gracie, in a letter posted on her web site, wrote that she had no interest in becoming the story, but said the broadcaster’s audience had a right to know what was going on, and accused the broadcaster of breaking British law.

“In the past four years, the BBC has had four international editors – two men and two women,” Gracie wrote. “The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. But last July I learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women.”

Speaking in an interview with the BBC’s Woman’s Hour program, Gracie said she was not after more money, but she wanted to be treated equal.

Others had commented using the hashtag #IStandWithCarrie.

The BBC made salary disclosures in 2017 which indicated a significant gender pay gap between its male and female presenters, and sparked a campaign by some prominent female BBC journalists to have the broadcaster fix the issue. Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC, has pledged that the broadcaster would close the gender pay gap by 2020.

Incidents on gender pay gap however go beyond the BBC, and have reached to newsrooms in the United States. The Wall Street Journal had made headlines when it emerged that female employees were being paid less than their male counterparts. Separately, data from the US Census bureau indicate that women are paid 86 percent of what their male counterparts make.

Men and women who enter journalism do so to inform, engage and educate. They all have the same goals and have the same desire to do what is embodied in SPJ’s Code of Ethics – to seek the truth and report it.

We as an industry must no longer be complacent about how women are treated. Women’s contributions in journalism are equal, and they should be equal. There is no excuse or just reason to suggest otherwise.

In 2016, my colleague, Elle Toussi (who co-chairs SPJ’s International Community) and I co-signed a resolution at SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans, calling for the elimination of the gender pay gap and the support of women in journalism. That resolution included the BBC’s plans to make half its workforce women by 2020, and the Journal’s review of the gender pay gap.

It is essential that both organizations stand by their word, and that all news organizations strive to make an equal working environment for everyone, one that does not intimidate or cause fear, but one that values creativity and the contributions of all journalists.

Gracie’s message was clear when she said enough was enough, and I for one agree. While this is an issue that cannot be resolved overnight, we need to not only keep talking about it, but do something about it. Women are the future of this industry, and their work is vital in helping ensure the industry remains vibrant.

We can make these changes and we must, not just for the thousands of talented and kick ass women who dedicate their lives to quality, ethical journalism, but for journalism itself.

I stand with Carrie.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Lessons from Katie

Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s contributions to journalism go beyond The Cohort newsletter. (Photo via LinkedIn)

The newsletter appeared near the top of my inbox, as it always does, on a Thursday every couple of weeks. Yet, the particular edition of this newsletter was special, as it signaled the passing of the baton, and allowed for an opportunity to pause and to reflect on the important work by its author.

I refer to The Cohort, the newsletter written by Katie Hawkins-Gaar of The Poynter Institute. Katie announced this week that she is leaving Poynter on December 15, and that edition of The Cohort, the 42nd one, was the last she would write.

While Katie isn’t going too far (she is going to continue the Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, under contract with Poynter among many things), her contributions to journalism and understanding its future has been quintessential, not just for the general industry, but for the people who work in it.

The idea for The Cohort came during the review of applications for the second Academy initiative, according to Kristen Hare, her colleague and editor of The Cohort. Katie wanted to do something for the women that weren’t selected to the Academy.

It was clear straight away that the Academy initiative was in good hands, Hare says, as it was a perfect fit for her skills and talent. Yet, Katie wanted it to be more than that, and wanted everyone to benefit, whether or not they were selected.

“She wanted to bring as many people to the party as possible,” Hare said in a telephone interview. “It was meant to be a way to share what was learned at [the Academy] and it very quickly transformed into this ongoing conversation and support group for women on how to thrive and survive in digital media.”

Samantha Ragland, Manager of Digital Entertainment Strategy for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, was part of the 2016 Women in Leadership Academy class, and says that while Katie knew The Cohort was going to be big, her focus was on one-on-one – making it feel like it was just you and her.

“That woman is a light,” Ragland said in a telephone interview. “It is a light that does not intimidate other people, but inspires. She’s bright. She’s humble.”

Katie’s work however goes beyond The Cohort. In addition to her work as Digital Innovation Faculty she also was one of the people behind the 40 Better Hours initiative, in order to create a better working environment in newsrooms. Hare says that a key lesson from her was about process.

“She is really good at not just building but how to do it – this whole idea that anyone can work smart if you follow a process,” Hare said. “She’s really devoted to helping people figure out processes that make work and life better.”

Hare says that transparency and integrity also stand out with Katie – things that have fit in with the recent conversations surrounding sexual harassment allegations against prominent men in journalism, and how newsrooms respond to it.

When the news of her departure emerged, there were many in the industry (this writer included) that were shocked to hear this. Hare said she had three reactions.

“As editor of The Cohort, I am devastated for that audience because I know that she has a voice that will be impossible to replace,” Hare said. “As a co-worker, I’m lost because she is one of those people who just makes the place better and brighter. As a friend, I’m confident that she is doing the right thing. Her intuition is never wrong. I get the added bonus of having her in my life.”

Despite the concerns, Hare knows Katie’s work at Poynter will be a part of the legacy that she has in enhancing journalism – letting voices be heard.

“Her impact is giving a voice to The Cohort – her lasting legacy still will be amazing,” Hare said.

Ragland says involving as many people as possible and her impact on a number of women in journalism will also be a part of it.

“She reaches behind and brings people up with her,” Ragland said. “Katie set a standard for women in leadership. More and more women are going to feel an opportunity and see opportunities to mobilize and to uplift other women in media. That is going to be an important part of her legacy. The last thing is for us to go backwards. We want to go forward.”

Katie has helped journalism go forward in abundance, but also has given us a necessary reminder of why we need voices like Katie in order for the industry to survive. For Elite Truong, a product manager at Vox Media, Katie’s work is about connecting journalists and making them feel welcome. She makes people feel that they aren’t alone, be it through her writing and otherwise, and Truong says helping people to be better is a part of her legacy.

“It wouldn’t be what it is without Katie,” Truong said.

Katie had one goal in mind with all of this work – to help people to be at their best. That remains a necessary goal in an age where journalism continues to evolve, and how we make sense of its evolution. This was emphasized not just in the work she has done at Poynter, but a message she emphasized in interviews, including one she gave to me for Twin Cities PBS earlier this year. She cares about journalism and its people, and knows how much of a difference it can make, and is not afraid to make that known.

Last year, I argued that Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau (Reflections in the Water in English) was an analogy for journalism. The composition, written based on the speed of ocean water, was a metaphor for the changes journalism was going through, but no matter how far those changes went, journalism would still be a constant.

Based on the conversations I had today and what I’ve heard, I’ll argue that the analogy applies to Katie’s work, in that no matter the changes that are ahead, or the answers that come from the debate on what journalism will be like – her support and her work will always remain a constant to continue to make journalism stronger.

So, here’s to you Katie. Thank you for being the supporter journalism needs more than ever. Thank you for being an idol, showing us that authentic and meaningful things can be done. Yet, most of all, thank you for being journalism’s friend.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Matt Lauer and a transparent industry

NBC News has said it has fired Matt Lauer, the longtime co-host of the Today Show. In an email to staff, Andrew Lack, NBC News’ chairman, said a complaint was received on Monday night, and that a review of that complaint led to the termination of his employment.

Lack added that NBC News management was saddened about the events, and aimed to be as transparent about the news as possible.

Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie made the announcement as the Today Show went live in the Eastern Time Zone.

Matt Lauer, seen here in 2012, was fired from NBC News this week for allegations of sexual harassment. (Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons/CC)

The news of Lauer’s termination of employment comes a week after CBS fired Charlie Rose, the co-anchor of CBS This Morning, and that PBS terminated the distribution deal of his eponymous talk show.

While the subject can be difficult, it is necessary for journalists to be held to account. SPJ’s Code of Ethics encourages journalists and news organizations to be accountable and transparent. Producers at Today were right to make the announcement, and they handled it as they would other stories.

Indeed, as my colleague, Ethics Chair Committee Andrew Seaman, wrote last week, there is a need for journalists to be held accountable, and for journalists themselves to hold their newsrooms accountable. For the record, I also serve on the Ethics Committee.

Guthrie added that media organizations were going through a reckoning that is long overdue. Issues women in journalism have faced are limited to not just sexual harassment, but also issues of trolling and harassment on social networks, a debate that has reached no clear answer from social media companies.

NBC must keep its word to be open and transparent about this issue. Just because he is one of the most prominent journalists on the network does not excuse the behavior. Women enter journalism for the same reasons as men – to inform, engage and educate, and they should be able to do that in a workplace free from intimidation, bullying, or anything that impedes the ability to do just that.

The conversations about our industry are important ones to have, and companies must be transparent about it – whether the issue is sexual harassment allegations or whether its policies on trolling and the impact on the relationship journalists have with their audiences on social media – because transparency will benefit the public in the long run when it comes to trust in news organizations.

NBC can, and must be transparent, not just for its own sake, but for journalism’s. I hope they keep their word and do just that.

Editor’s note: This post was amended at 9:39am CT to amend a typo.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

A global need for an equal industry

Today in the UK is Equal Pay Day, where The Fawcett Society, a campaign group promoting gender equality and women’s rights, says that both genders will be paid equal only by 2117.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s equivalent to the US Census Bureau, women are paid 7.2 percent less than men. Their median earnings are £16.30 ($21.51) an hour, while men’s median earnings are £17.57 ($23.18) an hour.

In the United States, women are paid 86 percent of their male counterparts, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Their median earnings are $48,597, compared to men whose median earnings are $56,430.

In both Britain and the US, the subject of the gender pay gap has been at the center of conversation, especially in journalism. The BBC recently made headlines for the differences in how they pay male and female journalists and personalities. Female journalists at the broadcaster took to Twitter to advocate for equal pay for men and women.

It also sparked this tweet from Greg James, a DJ on Radio 1, the BBC’s popular music network, which also airs Newsbeat, designed for younger audiences.

In the US, The Wall Street Journal was one of the publications which was part of the debate on journalism’s gender pay gap, where they pay women 85 percent of their male colleagues – which had raised concerns especially with a lack of women in the publication’s management.

Men and women enter journalism and the media for the same reasons – to inform, engage and educate, and to make a difference in their communities. Women play just as equal of a role as men, and their work has an impact not just on the communities themselves, but for journalism as a profession.

The debate may go beyond the shores of the United States, but the goals remain the same. We owe it to ourselves, to quote James, to shout about it. We owe it to ourselves to fight for equal pay for men and women, and for the opportunities that come with it. We owe it to ourselves to not take for granted the contributions made by women in journalism. We owe it to ourselves to emphasize every day why women are needed in this industry, and how they make journalism stronger with all they do.

We can do this, and we must – not just for our sake, but for journalism’s.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

A need to champion

Helen Thomas, one of the first women members of the White House press corps, as seen during a 1976 news conference with President Gerald Ford. (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko/LOC/Wikimedia Commons/CC license)

This is something I’ll freely own up to. I am a subscriber to The Cohort, the newsletter from the Poynter Institute curated by Katie Hawkins-Gaar. The newsletter aims to celebrate and promote women kicking ass in digital media. I read it not because of its look at the impact of journalism in the digital age, but to serve as a reminder for me about the challenges that are abound, and how I can help avert those challenges.

Today is International Day of the Girl. The UN declared October 11th to be that day five years ago in order to celebrate the importance of women and girls and to advance their opportunities.

Though industries beyond this one struggle with how to promote women, there is a special case with journalism. In this age where clicks versus authenticity is a daily debate, where news of layoffs are a daily occurrence and the blunt, excessive criticism of President Trump and his administration with the words fake news, it is essential that we champion our colleagues who work to help the public be at their best – especially women.

Yet, at the same time, it is more than that. As more women are studying journalism in still a male-dominated industry, there is still work to be done – from giving them opportunities and championing their voices in our newsrooms to defending them amidst attacks on social media because of who they are.

That case is evident with Laura Kuenssberg, the British political journalist who has been subjected to abuse online and who reportedly had to be accompanied by a security guard during a major political party conference. It is also evident with Jourdan Rodrigue, a sports reporter with the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina, who was the subject of a joke by Charlotte Panthers player Cam Newton. Newton has since apologized for the remark, but Scott Fowler, Rodrigue’s colleague, wrote that it was inexcusable.

Collaboration in journalism is more important than competition. It is necessary for us to survive – a point emphasized at the Online News Association’s conference last week in Washington.

As it is necessary for us to survive, it is important that we champion all those who work to help the public do what is at the core of SPJ’s Code of Ethics – seek truth and report it.

We need people like Hawkins-Gaar, Rodrigue and Kuenssberg. We are a better industry because of people like Lauren Gustus at the Fort-Worth Star Telegram and Tory Starr at WGBH in Boston. We know journalism’s future is bright because of the work of people like SPJ president Rebecca Baker, the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Sarah Bauer Jackson, the Minneapolis Star Tribune (and SPJ Minnesota president) Jenna Ross, Andrea Swensson at The Current at Minnesota Public Radio, and freelance journalist (and SPJ International Community co-chair) Elle Toussi.

If I am limited to giving only one reason for why being a feminist is important, let it be this. To borrow The Cohort’s quote, women kick ass in journalism, and are needed in journalism, period. They inspire me to do what I can for this field. I’m proud to work with them, and I value what they do.

After all, when journalism is at its best, by evolving everyone, irrespective of race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation, the public is too.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Committee, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Seek truth without abuse

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, who has been subjected to abuse online for her reporting. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC)

Over the last couple of days, Laura Kuenssberg has received attention for something that should not be a norm.

Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor who is the primary point person for the organization when it comes to British politics, was reported to be accompanied by a security guard as she covered the conference for the Labour Party, the opposition in Britain’s House of Commons.

Kuenssberg had been subjected to abuse online for her reporting, and prominent names in the Labour Party have called on its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to condemn it.

While the report of Kuenssberg being accompanied by a security guard has not officially been confirmed, it is not the first notable instance of security being needed for attacks against female journalists. When she covered President Trump’s campaign, NBC News reporter Katy Tur had received protection from the US Secret Service during a series of personal attacks. Trump has continued to criticize journalists, notably saying recently that journalists do not “like our country.”

Journalism is a fundamental part of the principles of democracy, and the ability for journalists to hold those in power to account without restrictions or repercussions is quintessential to upholding those principles. Any attack against a journalist, irrespective of medium, impedes their ability to serve the public. Further, an attack on journalists is not just an attack on the profession itself, but an attack on democracy.

Women’s contributions to journalism are essential for the profession to survive, and they are contributions that should not be taken for granted. This egregious abuse directed at Kuenssberg and other journalists, be it covering politics, culture, sports, economics, or other beats, should not be tolerated. No journalist should be subjected to it, and as Gaby Hinsliff, a former political editor of the British newspaper The Observer put it, it has no place in a democracy.

The ideas of women in journalism is something that should be championed, not criticized. I support Kuenssberg and the work of female journalists around the world who inform, engage and educate. They must be able to serve the public without restrictions or abuse, and do what is at the core of SPJ’s Code of Ethics – seek truth and report it.

I support them, and quite frankly, so should you.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist who writes for publications in the US and the UK. He also serves on SPJ’s Ethics Committee. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

An equal industry

This past Saturday marked Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote in the United States. Women have made significant contributions to civic and cultural life, and as journalism continues to evolve in the digital age, they have allowed our industry to become stronger.

Yet, recent statistics from the non-profit Women’s Media Center have raised concerns about representations of women in journalism. Their report, Divided 2017, released this past March, examines the state of women in media in the US. Findings showed that men receive 62 percent of byline and other credits in TV news, newspapers, online and in wire reports, compared to 38 percent received by women.

The findings, based on content from last September through last November, were broken down into 4 areas:

  • The evening news broadcasts (ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS): 74.8 percent of the output measured was reported by men, while 25.2 percent by women. PBS showed the most output with female correspondents and anchors (45 percent by women versus 55 percent by men), while ABC showed the least (12 percent by women versus 88 percent by men). CBS and NBC were tied (32 percent by women versus 68 percent by men).
  • Newspapers: 61.9 percent of news content was reported by men, while 38.1 percent of it was reported by women. When it comes to major newspaper titles, the widest gender gap for writing was at The New York Daily News (76 percent by men and 24 percent by women), followed by USA Today (70 percent by men and 30 percent by women), and a two-way tie between The Denver Post and The Wall Street Journal (66 percent by men and 34 percent by women). Other papers surveyed include The New York Times (61 percent by men and 39 percent by women) and The Washington Post (57 percent by men and 43 percent by women).
  • Online news: 53.9 percent of the bylines went to men, compared to 46.1 percent going to women. CNN, Fox, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast were surveyed, and of those four, Fox had 50.1 percent of content by men compared to 49.9 percent women, CNN had 55 percent of content by men compared to 45 percent by women, The Huffington Post had 50.8 percent of men getting the bylines compared to 49.2 percent of women, and The Daily Beast had 62 percent of bylines going to men compared to 38 percent going to women.
  • Wire services (AP and Reuters): While Reuters had more of a representation of women compared to the AP, there was still more content written by men at both agencies (65 percent by men and 35 percent by women at the AP versus 61 percent by men and 39 percent by women at Reuters). Men reported 62.4 percent of the output at both agencies compared to 37.6 percent of it being reported by women.

Judy Woodruff, seen here in 2012, is one of the most prominent women in American journalism. (Photo: NewsHour/Flickr)

Outside of the Women’s Media Center statistics, there were also some statistics about women in journalism released in the past few months, notably at NPR. At the end of October 2016, 55.1 percent of its newsroom was female compared to 44.9 percent being male. While most of NPR’s top executives are men, according to the data from the Ombudsman’s office, all of NPR’s produced newsmagazines are led by women, including The Two Way news blog and Here and Now, which it co-produces with member station WBUR in Boston.

Women have played a significant role in an industry that is evolving in the digital age, and continue to do so. This is especially the case at SPJ, where the top 3 leadership positions are currently held by women – President Lynn Walsh, President-Elect Rebecca Baker and Secretary-Treasurer Alex Tarquinio. Indeed, Baker will become the 9th woman in SPJ history to hold the post of president when she is sworn in at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, Calif., on September 9th.

With a study from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University in Britain showing that more women are studying journalism globally, including in the US, it is particularly important, especially for the next generation of journalists, that we support the work of women. We must advocate for them in newsrooms and in the profession itself, especially with a rise in attacks on social media against them, just for merely doing their jobs.

But most of all, no matter what platform they work on, we must champion their ideas. Because of them, we are a stronger industry, and we must ensure that we don’t take them, or their contributions, for granted.

Their work allows journalism to be at its best, and when journalism is at its best, so are the people who are its beneficiaries – our audience.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist who writes for publications in the US and the UK. He also serves on SPJ’s Ethics Committee. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

WSJ: Putting their money where the byline is

The Wall Street Journal has pledged to remove the gender gap in their newsroom. They should keep their word. (Photo: Neon Tommy/Flickr)

Last year, when SPJ convened in New Orleans for the annual Excellence in Journalism conference, my colleague, Elle Toussi (who co-chairs SPJ’s International Community) and I co-wrote a resolution with the help of chapters and colleagues nationwide calling for women in journalism to be supported, and for resources to be made available to help them thrive in the industry.

When we wrote the resolution, it included a mention of activity at the Wall Street Journal, as its editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker, had called for the elimination of the gender pay gap. Baker’s goals had the support of its parent company, Dow Jones.

One year later, there are concerns about that pledge and if it will be honored. According to a report from the Columbia Journalism Review, nearly 200 reporters at the organization are waiting for a reply to a letter, dated the 28th of March, regarding workplace equality, and their patience is running out.

The Review also notes that there has been a decline in stories with women bylines published in the A section. The company pays women 85 percent of their work compared to men, the report adds.

A reporter who works with the women’s advocacy group at Dow Jones told CJR there were still concerns.

“This is something that is a very regular topic of conversation among editors and reporters—gender disparity, pay disparity, not feeling that our newsroom is as diverse as it needs to be in terms of race, LGBT employees, or [those with] diverse socioeconomic backgrounds,” the reporter said, who was not named by CJR at the reporter’s request for concerns of retaliation in the workplace.

This report comes as news emerged of a lack of female management at the publication. Rebecca Blumenstein left the Journal earlier this year to join the masthead of the New York Times. In the letter staffers signed from March, Blumenstein’s departure signaled a broader concern.

“Our highest ranking female role model left the company earlier this year,” the staffers wrote. “There are currently four women and eight men listed as deputy managing editors, and both editorial page editors are men. Nearly all the people at high levels at the paper deciding what we cover and how are white men.”

When Toussi and I wrote the resolution, we applauded the Journal’s decision to close the gap, and called on other organizations to follow suit. We also agreed with the resolution passed by the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, and the Journalism and Women Symposium (for the record, NAHJ is partnering with SPJ for this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, California).

In this important time for journalism, a diverse newsroom is quintessential. It is a newsroom to be proud of – a newsroom dedicated to ethical journalism and reporting the facts, whatever they may be, without fear or favor.

It is a newsroom that signals, especially in the digital age, that diversity is valued, and that women’s voices in journalism are just as important as men’s, especially with studies showing more women studying journalism in the US. Their ideas help enhance the best industry in the world, and they will continue to do so tomorrow, and in the days, months and years ahead.

Women should be recognized as equal in the newsroom, and Baker and the Journal should keep their word. They have a unique opportunity before them to eliminate the gap, to ensure a truly equal workplace environment, and send a clear message that no matter who you are or what platform you work on you can do what matters most in journalism – seek truth and report it.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist who writes for publications in the US and the UK. He also serves on SPJ’s Ethics Committee. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Women are the future

“The future of media looks like this.”

That is how a tweet from Josiah Ryan, a senior producer for CNN in New York, began when discussing the recent front page cover story on the network from The Hollywood Reporter.

Featuring the network’s chief executive, Jeff Zucker, and other journalists and personalities, including Jake Tapper, Anthony Bourdain, Casey Neistat and W. Kamau Bell, the story focused on the future of the network in the digital age.

The tweet however, became subject of rampant criticism from others in the industry as well as other Twitter users, notably for the absence of women on the front page, and the message the tweet sent in the replies.

The criticism also came as the tweet was shared.

This week, International Women’s Day is observed – a day to recognize the achievements and contributions women have made around the world, including in journalism. This also coincides with the celebration of Women’s History Month.

There has been a recent increase of women studying journalism, and indeed there are prominent women in digital journalism, including Katie Hawkins-Gaar at the Poynter Institute, Tory Starr and Raney Aronson-Rath at WGBH in Boston, Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post, Tamara Keith and Sarah McCammon at NPR, Asma Khalid at WBUR in Boston, Meredith Artley at CNN (and the past president of the Online News Association) and Laura Davis at the University of Southern California, as well as the women whose tweets are quoted in this piece and others who work to keep this industry strong.

This also is the first year that the executive leadership at SPJ has been led by three women – President Lynn Walsh, President-Elect Rebecca Baker and Secretary-Treasurer Alex Tarquinio. Additionally, 14 of the 23 seats on SPJ’s Board of Directors are held by women, while of SPJ’s 9 committees, 4 of them have women listed as chairs or co-chairs. Also, in SPJ’s 5 active communities, 4 of them have women serving as chair or co-chair.

Indeed, SPJ members like Walsh, Baker, Tarquinio, Robyn Davis Sekula, Rachel McClelland, Kathryn Foxhall, Sarah Bauer Jackson, Elle Toussi, Dana Neuts and Dori Zinn, in addition to other SPJ members nationwide and those who work behind the scenes at its headquarters in Indianapolis, play significant roles in the development of the future of media.

All of these women have something in common. Every day, at their outlets, be it a broadcast outlet, a web site or a newspaper, they inform, educate and engage. They help the public make sense of events, and help the world cope better.

The future of media is something that will continued to be discussed, questioned, debated and dissected. Yet, there is something necessary to the future of this industry – women. Their ideas are quintessential to the development of the future. Their contributions allow journalism to be stronger, and they inspire me to help make journalism better.

The debates may continue, but one thing is for certain – women are the future of media, and we must never take them, their ideas or their contributions for granted – ever.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is a member of SPJ’s Ethics Committee and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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