20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

“Should we be cautious in describing our experience, careful not to alienate the men in the room or offend the funders who have so generously invested in our organizations? Or should we dispense with politeness and say in public what we say to each other in private?”

This fall, Monika Bauerlein from Mother Jones and I spoke at a gathering of media funders about being women CEOs. A couple of days beforehand, we talked strategy: Should we be cautious in describing our experience, careful not to alienate the men in the room or offend the funders who have so generously invested in our organizations? Or should we dispense with politeness and say in public what we say to each other in private?

We opted for honesty. I’ve never had so many people reach out after a talk to thank me and share their own stories.

That experience, along with a mini-sea change in women taking over leadership of nonprofit news organizations — which gives us all a community of women to turn to for advice, guidance, and commiseration — has gotten me thinking about the change that’s possible as women step in to shape the future of journalism.

There’s some truth to the stereotype that women often bring a more collaborative approach to leadership. (Monika and I have both been accused of being too collaborative, often by men who equate leadership with decisiveness above all else. I’ve decided to respond by being totally decisive about my commitment to being collaborative.) So in that spirit, I turned to the women in my newsroom to ask how journalism can get better for women in 2020.

Their responses are a blueprint for us all:

  • Hire more women as full-time journalists rather than freelancers.
  • Stop laying off skilled senior women. Women of color. White women. The most experienced women would now be leaders had they not been shown the door by top national and regional news organizations.
  • Make long-term investments in women who are local reporters in rural areas. In the South. In seasonal farm country. Marginalized women from these regions have unique insights ahead of the election and hold the cultural competency to root out compelling stories that the rest of the country remains ignorant about.
  • Put an end to women playing the “office mom” role of throwing all the parties, doing other people’s disgusting dishes, and/or scolding other people about not doing their own disgusting dishes.
  • Assign more women to cover “hard news” — politics, economics, and international.
  • Stop assuming that all women are the same. This industry is experienced differently by women of color. And our differences aren’t only racial: disabled, trans, undocumented, and other marginalized women are seldom the beneficiaries of inclusion initiatives.
  • Take women seriously. Just because we are women doesn’t mean we aren’t prepared, educated, and ready to ask tough questions.
  • Stop being afraid of crying at work, whether the tears come from fury or sorrow.
  • Take up the issues of gender and racial parity together, as one ambition.
  • Stop turning to women to pull everything together in the end — to pick up the pieces when someone else has failed to plan.
  • Men need to start to really understand what it’s like for women to be paid less, to face sexism, to not be taken seriously. And then they need to decide to do something about it.
  • Stop sexual harassment. Start paying women more. Mentor and support women. Advocate for women to be in leadership positions.

Demographics are on our side: Women far outnumber men in journalism schools. We are the future of this profession. Let 2020 be the year we stop making excuses and start making journalism a place where women — all women — are respected, treated fairly, and supported. Our newsrooms will be better places to work, and our journalism will better represent the public we are here to serve.

Christa Scharfenberg is CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

This fall, Monika Bauerlein from Mother Jones and I spoke at a gathering of media funders about being women CEOs. A couple of days beforehand, we talked strategy: Should we be cautious in describing our experience, careful not to alienate the men in the room or offend the funders who have so generously invested in our organizations? Or should we dispense with politeness and say in public what we say to each other in private?

We opted for honesty. I’ve never had so many people reach out after a talk to thank me and share their own stories.

That experience, along with a mini-sea change in women taking over leadership of nonprofit news organizations — which gives us all a community of women to turn to for advice, guidance, and commiseration — has gotten me thinking about the change that’s possible as women step in to shape the future of journalism.

There’s some truth to the stereotype that women often bring a more collaborative approach to leadership. (Monika and I have both been accused of being too collaborative, often by men who equate leadership with decisiveness above all else. I’ve decided to respond by being totally decisive about my commitment to being collaborative.) So in that spirit, I turned to the women in my newsroom to ask how journalism can get better for women in 2020.

Their responses are a blueprint for us all:

  • Hire more women as full-time journalists rather than freelancers.
  • Stop laying off skilled senior women. Women of color. White women. The most experienced women would now be leaders had they not been shown the door by top national and regional news organizations.
  • Make long-term investments in women who are local reporters in rural areas. In the South. In seasonal farm country. Marginalized women from these regions have unique insights ahead of the election and hold the cultural competency to root out compelling stories that the rest of the country remains ignorant about.
  • Put an end to women playing the “office mom” role of throwing all the parties, doing other people’s disgusting dishes, and/or scolding other people about not doing their own disgusting dishes.
  • Assign more women to cover “hard news” — politics, economics, and international.
  • Stop assuming that all women are the same. This industry is experienced differently by women of color. And our differences aren’t only racial: disabled, trans, undocumented, and other marginalized women are seldom the beneficiaries of inclusion initiatives.
  • Take women seriously. Just because we are women doesn’t mean we aren’t prepared, educated, and ready to ask tough questions.
  • Stop being afraid of crying at work, whether the tears come from fury or sorrow.
  • Take up the issues of gender and racial parity together, as one ambition.
  • Stop turning to women to pull everything together in the end — to pick up the pieces when someone else has failed to plan.
  • Men need to start to really understand what it’s like for women to be paid less, to face sexism, to not be taken seriously. And then they need to decide to do something about it.
  • Stop sexual harassment. Start paying women more. Mentor and support women. Advocate for women to be in leadership positions.

Demographics are on our side: Women far outnumber men in journalism schools. We are the future of this profession. Let 2020 be the year we stop making excuses and start making journalism a place where women — all women — are respected, treated fairly, and supported. Our newsrooms will be better places to work, and our journalism will better represent the public we are here to serve.

Christa Scharfenberg is CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Joshua Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Millie Tran   Wicked

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving