New media, old story for women and people of color

Once again, the media has discovered that women are missing. Women are missing from reporting and opining on foreign policy and war and Big Issues. Instead, look for women writing op/ed pieces about “pink topics,” such as family, gender, style and food, according to The Op/Ed Project’s research.

The most talked-about new media start-ups are — surprise — headed up by white men, as Emily Bell pointed out in The Guardian. In a follow-up article in Columbia Journalism Review, Bell acknowledged that Laura Poitras, though far less often mentioned, is a co-founder with Glenn Greenwald at First Look, and that Melissa Bell is a co-founder of Vox, with Matt Yglesias and the more prominent Ezra Klein. Emily Bell quotes Melissa Bell “who elegantly pointed out that if my coverage overlooked her, then it added to the problem of visibility in the media.”

Women, of course, are not the only ones missing from journalism. People of color, any color except white, remain vastly underrepresented. Buzzfeed’s Shani Hilton, writing in Medium, picked up the story, agreeing with Bell that the funding to start new ventures is going predominantly to white men and that they are “proceeding to staff up with more people who look like them.” Hilton believes they need to make an effort to diversify newsrooms, but says it’s going to be a tough job. She then proceeds to list three tips to white guys trying to hire more diverse candidates and three things she learned as a black job-seeker.

Over at Al Jazeera, Sarah Kendzior eloquently traces the dimensions of the larger problem, emphasizing that women are missing not just from newsrooms but from analyzing and making foreign policy:

“The majority of foreign policy bloggers and vast majority of op-ed writers – with estimates ranging from 80 to 90 percent – are men. When lists of intellectuals are made, women tend to appear in a second-round, outrage-borne draft. Female intellectuals gain prominence through tales of their exclusion. They are known for being forgotten.”

The recent Foreign Policy magazine panel discussion on whether, and how, the academy matters, reinforces Kendzior’s argument. Toward the end of the discussion, this question came up:

“Building on Bob’s point, is there a problem with getting more women into foreign policy, into IR [international relations], and then into positions of responsibility and leadership within the academy that you feel is not being addressed?”

Given that the question was posed by a man to the only woman on the ten-person panel, the answer seemed fairly obvious.

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