The Glass is Still Half Empty…In New Media

I just came across this picture of the New York Times’ copy editing team hard at work at the paper’s foreign desk, ca. 1942.

Notice the amount of editors working. White men and All the News That’s Fit to Print. Don’t sneer. In that regard, not much has changed, because mostly white men are still deciding what is considered newsworthy to print or broadcast.

But if you take a good look at new media, there, too, the good old times are still with us: Most influential political bloggers are male.

You want to change the media landscape, ditch the old ways, be all new and trendy and interactive and many to many while wagging a finger at mainstream media/old media/dead media? Why not shatter the glass ceiling once and for all in your approach to citizen journalism, counter the indifference toward women writers, put the social in social media and hire female executives while you’re at it.

I am not holding my breath though.

So ladies, take the matter in your own hands. Start writing about hard news. Submit op-eds. Analyze and comment and be heard. And don’t take no for an answer.

The McCormick Foundation New Media Women Entrepreneurs has more facts to consider. Among them:

  • Women comprise nearly two-thirds of journalism school students but only make up one-third of the full-time journalism workforce. That proportion has not changed for more than 25 years.
  • Only 3 percent of clout positions in mainstream media are held by women.

“What we don’t know – and aim to find out is how the explosion of new media is changing the news landscape for women,” states the foundation. “In the face of media consolidation and mega-buyouts, the rise of citizen journalism and multimedia reporting, are more women journalists leaving traditional news operations to launch and lead their own news businesses? Is cyberspace a more welcoming place for women journalists? Are women bringing different news judgment as they conceive new Web sites? What do these trends mean for women consumers of news?”

Here’s another disturbing trend:

“Women are used to being paid less, doing more for less. Men want more. And unless you’re on staff, the pay [in new media] is miserable,” writes Luisita Lopez Torregrosa in Politics Daily under the headline Women in New Media: At the Top or in the Trenches? “The highly prized jobs of web developers — the thinkers, the innovators, the ground breakers — are all held by men.” And Torregrosa points to a NYTimes article in the Sunday Magazine a while back that ran several pictures of the people it chose as the 21st century leaders at The Times: They were all young, all of them new-media whizzes, and all were men.

Indeed, according to another NYTimes article, “Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley” (April 16), according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, and 22 percent of the software engineers at tech companies over all.

Even The Huffington Post, launched and run by a woman, Arianna Huffington, is not immune. FAIR Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting discovered in a 2008 study that the Huffington Post had far fewer female bloggers than one would think.  FAIR discovered during a 9-week period that only 23 percent of the “13 featured blog posts” on the home page belonged to women.

When I interviewed Arianna Huffington in 2009, she told me, “The caricature that women just want to sit around reading People magazine and watching soap operas is very moldy. And as we move forward, I believe more and more women will challenge our cultural labeling and speak out more.”

Let’s take her by her word and send blog post pitches her way and speak out more.

For more info, visit the Op-Ed Project; get more facts from my post on the glass ceiling in media; read this 2007 study by the National Center for Women & Information Technology; take a look at this listing of Top Female Bloggers; and read The End of Men from the July/August issue of The Atlantic.

Also published on Medium.

Published by

Tekla Szymanski

Tekla is a New-York based independent content strategist and front-end web developer, a multilingual journalist, writer and editor (both offline and online).

0 thoughts on “The Glass is Still Half Empty…In New Media”

  1. My first writing job was at a weekly newspaper in Boulder, Colorado. My job looked exactly like the photo in your piece, except I was the only woman. And they ALL smoked, incessantly. I lasted 6 hours, escaped to the parking lot at 3 p.m., put my foot on the gas and never looked back.
    — Lisa Gates

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