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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.

Crossposted at Feministe

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