It’s not just Jill Abramson: Women everywhere are getting pushed out of journalism
Blame the techies.
The firing of New York Times editor Jill Abramson has been covered with all the gossipy verve of a traditional tabloid scandal. But by obsessing over the sordid details, we’re missing a key point: Technology has made it harder for women to survive, and thrive, in journalism. And that has big consequences for the quality of news we receive.
Admittedly, the cards have always been stacked against women. As Washington Post reporter Lydia DePillis aptly pointed out on her 100 percent men Tumblr, every single editor of The New Republic has been male. Almost every single newspaper chain is headed by a man, save Gannett. A recent New Yorker issue was written entirely by men.
It’s harder for women to be recognized as top journalists too. A study out of the University of Missouri looked at 814 Pulitzer winners; just 113 were female. This, even though their qualifications were largely better: they were more likely to have graduate degrees and work at a top newspaper. Not a single woman has hosted a network late night show.
A post from 100 percent men showing an all-male Wall Street Journal event. That incomplete list has since been updated to include more women.
But the requirements of a digital-first newsroom are only widening that gap. Sophisticated infographics, interactive storytelling, and data-crunching have become essential to online journalism. It’s part of a critical mission to keep web news profitable. And unlike many other parts of traditional newsrooms, these teams are still hiring. But they’re hiring programmers and techies, most of whom are male. Women hold just 27 percent of all computer science jobs. According to Forbes, that number isn’t growing.
I’ve seen this phenomenon firsthand. Over the past three years, I’ve studied major newsrooms across the country and the world for my research. From The Times to the BBC to the AP – and more – it’s jarring to see how few women hold the programmer-journalist roles that have become so prized.
When I do find women in these spots, they’re often doing front-end work, designing the interactives rather than doing the programming that’s so highly prized.
But these efforts, too, are dominated by men. Take Vox, headed by Ezra Klein, formerly of Wonkblog. He started it with a woman co-founder, Melissa Bell, who has gotten significantly less attention—certainly no profiles in The New Republic or New York magazine. Data phenom Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight promises to give us quantitative assessments of social phenomena, has defended the poor ratio of only six women on his19 person staff.
“THE PROTAGONISTS ARE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY – AND INCREASINGLY – MALE AND WHITE.”
As Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, argued in The Guardian “the protagonists are almost exclusively – and increasingly – male and white.”
It’s also harder for women to get venture capital to back their projects. Only 2 percent of venture money goes to women. Two percent.
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Why does this matter? Pro forma, it’s not politically correct to say that women have a different perspective. But the fact that they face structural inequalities may make a critical difference in how they conceive of and cover stories, and how they understand their audience.
As I was working on my book, “Making News at The New York Times,” I saw Jill Abramson help appoint other strong woman leaders in the newsroom. I watched journalist Tanzina Vega rise from web producer to race and ethnicity national reporter, a Page One beat.
The Times also saw other new kinds of coverage, as Slate’s Amanda Hess notes, from stories about virtual sexual harassment of female gamers to stories about female homeless children, disrupting what Hess called “the paper’s masculine approach to news coverage.”
What we’re ultimately talking about is a serious consequence – the type of news we get stands to be less diverse and ultimately, may fail to capture some of the diversity of experiences that need to be reflected in journalism to tell a complete story of social life.
So the discussion begins with the dramatic exit of one woman from The New York Times, but it has to continue for us all.
How the World Consumes Media—in Charts and Maps
When I shared my highlights of Mary Meeker’s ginormous presentation about the future of the Internet, one graph got more attention than everything else combined. It’s the chart that leads this article, which shows screen time by screen type around the world.
I received some requests to break out the data in maps and customizable tables. Requests granted. This first interactive table will tell you which countries watch the most TV, stare longest at their tablets, and get lost most reliably in the glassy glares of their smartphones. (Darkened bars denote countries that are number-one in at least one category.)
And for those of you who prefer maps, here are two maps showing TV and smartphone use around the world.
What do the maps tell us? An super-oversimplified observation is that the U.S. and Western Europe watch a lot of TV, while Asia and other developing economies are disproportionately heavy in mobile and tablet use. One explanation—honestly, a rationalization more than a causal variable—is that habits die hard, and rich, old capitalist democracies still watch a lot of TV, because it’s what they’re used to. The middle classes of the U.S. and Western Europe got rich in the 1950s when TV penetration was screaming past 50 percent. In the 21st century, smartphones are the new TV—the hot new glassthat signals the future of attention and entertainment—and the countries that spend the most time on their phones (particularly relative to other products) are countries that only now are joining the global middle class.
On of the recent irritants in the run up to RIL’s formal takeover of Network 18 and TV 18 has been the coverage of AAP by its news channels. If there is one thing owning media has not got the man who has it all, it is a good press. A HOOT editorial
Posted/Updated Friday, May 30 21:50:00, 2014
Lets face it, media– as in journalism– is pretty much a losing proposition these days in India. For those who launch and run it, and sometimes for those who invest in careers in it. But in the short term, Continue reading The owner strikes back
Network 18 managing director Raghav Bahl is likely to resign tomorrow, May 30. He has no immediate investment or entrepreneurial plans in the media, these officials said. This will come after the exit earlier this week of three top executives at Network 18, Sai Kumar, Ajay Chacko and RDS Bawa.
While Sardesai and Ghose have offers from other media houses, officials denied the rumours doing the rounds in the Delhi media for weeks that they were considering an offer from Focus TV. While Ghose is reliably learnt to be considering offers from other media organisations, Sardesai is considering taking a break for a year to write a book. The duo haven’t had it easy with the management of the channel recently. In February, Scroll.in had reported that the management had asked Ghose to not be critical of Narendra Modi, who was making an ambitious bid for the post of prime minister.
Reliance Industries Ltd. today said in a press release (.pdf here) that they were putting in Rs. 4,000 crores (around $679 million) in Independent Media Trust for “acquisition of control in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd… including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Limited… ” In other words, Reliance Industries is effecting a management takeover of Network 18.
“The acquisition will differentiate Reliance’s 4G business by providing a unique amalgamation at the intersect of telecom, web and digital commerce via a suite of premier digital properties,” the release said. “This suite includes In.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, Firstpost.com, Cricketnext.in, Homeshop18.com, Bookmyshow.com; the broadcast channels include Colors, CNN IBN, CNBC TV18, IBN7, CNBC Awaaz.”
The announcement has left Network 18 employees in a state of uncertainty, sources say.
The Independent Media Trust will use these funds to buy 78% stake in Network18 and 9% stake in TV18 and to acquire shares tendered in the Open Offers. IMT will make open offers simultaneously to public shareholders to acquire shares of Network18, TV18 and Infomedia Press Limited.
It is very rare to see media jobs advertised in newspapers. This makes it very difficult for media students. They do not know how to find a job. Trying to meet editors or HR heads is not easy. E-mails also produce virtually no response.
So what should media students do? Here are seven simple ways of landing a media job.
You must make full use of media internships, which are organised as part of the study programme. This is not easy. The chances are that you will be treated like a piece of furniture. You must remember that journalists in all newsrooms are struggling to put together the next telecast or the next edition of the newspaper, and have very little time for interns.
Most of the time you will be hanging around waiting for work. But this should not deter you from making your presence felt. You must be polite and persevere in your efforts to get work. The interns who are likely to be noticed are those who show drive and determination. Even one well written news report, a news feature or one well edited copy can earn you recognition. This is what you need. You would have opened the door. You can return after finishing your course and make a claim. Who knows you may be lucky.
Today newspapers are struggling to find good hands, especially for the news desk. A few editors even write to well known media schools to get resumes of their better students. You must make use of this. Request your college principal to mail your resume to these media outlets. You can then follow up these letters with personal visits. It is quite possible that you may end up with a media job.
You must visit the offices of the local media, and try to build friendships. This is not going to be easy but it can prove to be very rewarding. Most editors have an informal system of hiring. They ask their colleagues to spread the word among their friends and acquaintances whenever a vacancy arises. You may be the first to know of such a vacancy and get the media job you have been wanting.
Job sites like Naukri.com and Monster.com are now emerging as new destinations to recruit journalists. These sites allow the HR departments of media outlets to scan resumes of media students. You must therefore post your resume on as many job sites as possible. A good practice is to update your resume once a quarter so that your resume remains fresh and current.
The easiest way to get a job is through campus interviews. Unfortunately, only a few media colleges are in a position to hold campus interviews. If you happen to be studying in one of these colleges then you must make full use of the opportunity.
You must find out everything about the media companies that are coming for the campus interviews. You must go through all the recent copies of their publications. In case of TV companies, you must start listening to their telecasts. This will convince the editors that you are passionate about media, and their organisation.
A good policy is to meet the Features or Supplements Editor of newspapers in your city. You will be surprised how hard these editors struggle to find good writers. In fact, they are always on the look-out for fresh faces. Request them to give you some freelance assignments. An even better strategy is to submit a couple samples. You can write news features on monuments, student hang outs, encroachments etc in your city. If your writing is good you will be asked to do more.
You must continue to scan newspaper columns and job sites. You must also keep track of vacancies posted on the careers page of media sites. You never know when a media outlet may decide to advertise its vacancies.