Saturday, December 12, 2009

Losing women editors (by Suzie)

Echidne's post Thursday on the closing of Editor & Publisher led me to its site, where I saw a story on three female editors resigning.
After those three depart, only two of the top 20 circulation daily newspapers will have women editors. Those are Nancy Barnes at The Star Tribune in Minneapolis and Susan Goldberg of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
The article notes that only six of the 18 board members of the American Society of News Editors are women.
"It is a difficult time in the industry and there are some concerns about diversity," says Goldberg. "We have never been able to get to a level of parity, and we have seen some backsliding. I think it is a huge cause for concern."

Barnes also believed [that] diversity was a problem, but did not think it was irreversible. "It is a brutal business for women, particularly women who want to have a family," she says. "There are just different choices you have to make. But I believe we will grow more women editors."
I'm not so hopeful. Historically, journalists have been expected to work long and uncertain hours, and this set-up favored men with stay-at-home wives. I never worked at Guild newspapers, which are uncommon in the South. As a reporter, I either didn't fill out a time card or was expected to lie. You risked your career if you went to the Labor Department. To add to the risk, there was dispute over whether reporters were salaried or hourly, exempt or non-exempt. I'm sure this is true of other businesses in which performance is subjective, and companies don't want to pay overtime.

Increasingly, journalists are expected to be proficient in different forms of media, within a 24-hour news cycle. That makes it even harder for women with family responsibilities to rise through the ranks.

One small sign of hope is that women have been less affected by the sweeping layoffs in the industry, according to an APME survey, although that may be because there are more men in more high-paying positions.