Meredith Artley

CNN

Meredith Artley

Vice president and managing editor, CNN Digital

There’s been a longstanding issue of not having enough women’s voices among the big names in journalism
There’s been a longstanding issue of not having enough women’s voices among the big names in journalism. I don’t know that there is one cause. Is it that not enough women aspire to make themselves a brand? Or that some are trying but being denied by bad bosses or culture? Or that women are not encouraged in the same way men are, and that goes all the way back to how societies react to girls speaking out versus boys? All of those things and more are probably in the mix. I do think we tend to under cover the women who ARE out there. Becoming a ‘big name’ takes not only smarts, will, and support from others but also a media ecosystem that in effect says, ‘Hey, this person and their ideas are worth paying attention to.’ The Nate Silvers and Ezra Kleins of the world deserve the attention they are getting for their unique approaches, and it’s great to see those models. It doesn’t have to stop there. There are some great voices out there now who have a platform and pedestal and are ascending still: Anna Holmes [Fusion], Heidi Moore [The Guardian US], Kate Aurthur [BuzzFeed], Hanna Rosin [The Atlantic], Pamela Druckerman [International New York Times]. And in my own shop, many of our most incredible voices belong to women. All of those voices are smart, unique, and merit an even brighter spotlight from all media.
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Melissa Bailey

Melissa Bailey

Managing editor, New Haven Independent, 2015 Nieman Fellow

At times I’ve felt I had to put on a more masculine, no-nonsense demeanor
At times I’ve felt I had to put on a more masculine, no-nonsense demeanor so that men in power take me seriously. But in general, I have found that taking a quiet, soft-spoken approach can be a great advantage: People I’m interviewing are more willing to open up, and when they try to push me around, I can always pull out the video camera. The most importance advice I have for women who want to lead in journalism is to work for an organization in which you can pursue whatever you’re passionate about—an organization that is not held back by conventional notions of how journalism is supposed to be done. If that organization doesn’t exist, create it. And don’t be too modest to claim credit for your own accomplishments and promote your own work.
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Monika Bauerlein

Lance Iversen/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis

Monika Bauerlein

Co-editor in chief, Mother Jones

I did consider leaving journalism, more than once
I did consider leaving journalism, more than once. These days it’s down to a couple of times a week… I was tempted by other professions, angered by harassment or discrimination, neither of them subtle, and at some points I also despaired of being able to climb out of debt and/or raise my children on a journalist’s salary, especially in the Bay Area. I stayed because, corny as it is, I love this profession. I love being excited about what I do, the people I do it with, the way it plays out in the world, and I love ending every day having learned something new.
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Nancy Gibbs

Lauren Gerson/U.S. National Archives

Nancy Gibbs

Managing editor, Time magazine

I doubt I have very many communications majors at Time
I doubt I have very many communications majors at Time. I have history majors, politics majors, philosophy majors—so I’m not sure graduation rates of communications majors tells us very much. I have not had trouble finding terrific candidates to hire, both men and women and at all levels of experience, from entry-level reporters to top editors.Compensation is immensely complex and affected by so many factors that it is hard to make generalizations about gender or anything else; I could argue, for instance, that there were moments in my early career when I was promoted more rapidly than male colleagues in part because of the desire of top editors to have more women in the editorial ranks. My priority is making sure that compensation is fair and reasonable, but there are many, many factors that go into that judgment. I was lucky enough to have great mentors and models, both men and women. My first editor, when I went from being a fact checker to being a writer, was a woman named Martha Duffy, who was a true pioneer as one of the first female top editors at Time. She was a brilliant editor and great protector of her writers, and was always a role model. But so were Walter Isaacson, Jim Kelly, and other terrific top editors. I think we all approach this job differently; I know my leadership style is different than others, but I expect that is natural everywhere. Journalism is at such a fascinating moment of expansion and evolution, I think it is vital to learn multiple skills—be multi-lingual, in the sense that you should care about telling great and important stories, and be equally fluent across all platforms.
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Susan Goldberg

Becky Hale/National Geographic

Susan Goldberg

Editor in chief, National Geographic

We were in better shape 10 years ago
We were in better shape 10 years ago than we are now. The first thing we need to do is to get people to pay attention to the numbers again. The number of women and minorities in leadership positions has taken a huge decline in recent years. I think it’s because all of these media organizations were worrying more about the survival of the business, the transition in the industry from print to digital. Everybody’s attention was shifted elsewhere. Of course, those were important things, but where we’ve ended up is not in a good place. We’ve got to pay attention again to the lack of diverse leadership in newsrooms, whether they’re print or digital. There needs to be more than one female candidate for the job. There needs to be a real deliberate effort to make a search so that there are a number of women and men to choose among when you’re looking to fill a top job. I don’t know that people are making those efforts the way that they used to. It isn’t going to happen by accident. People almost got used to this status quo, where there are so few women that every time a woman gets hired or fired, it becomes a major national news story. That kind of tells you how screwed up it is.
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Charlotte Hall

Orlando Sentinel

Charlotte Hall

Former editor, senior vice president, Orlando Sentinel

Women need to be models, models to other women but they need to mentor and train men and women
Women need to be models, models to other women but they need to mentor and train men and women. I keep coming back to the fact that my two most important mentors, who helped my career the most, were men. A boss needs to be very fair across all demographics of the newsroom in terms of the opportunities presented. Women may be somewhat more sensitive as editors to making sure that women are in the mix. I would say always volunteer for the tough assignments. Put your hand up. Once you’re in meetings, speak up. I had to teach myself to do that, because as I was coming up in the business I was often the only woman in the room. Women have trouble speaking up. I had to set myself a rule: ‘You will speak in every meeting. If you have an idea, you are going to speak, and you will speak in every meeting.’ That was a good discipline. You have to engage the process, even if you think the process is male dominated or alien to your way of being in a meeting. The whole issue of diversity in the media in leadership positions is an issue that’s linked in a very essential way to the mission of journalism, which is to cover society fully, fairly, accurately. I have long believed that you have to have all sorts of diverse voices in the newsroom to do that right. You have to look like society to do it right, or look like your community to do it right. That’s also at the top. That’s why women are so essential in those high places.
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Anna Holmes

Anna Wolf

Anna Holmes

Founder, Jezebel; editor of digital voices and storytelling, Fusion

The gatekeepers, the managers, could do well to constantly push themselves
The gatekeepers, the managers, could do well to constantly push themselves to broaden their idea of who’s in their talent pool, to actually look beyond the Ivy League grads who get all the plum internships in New York and to try and diversify their staff, both in terms of gender, but also in terms of ethnicity. Having a fancy degree from a fancy school and working at a high-profile publication is not an indicator of how good of a writer or a reporter or a thinker or an editor somebody is. There’s a lot of great talent that doesn’t come through those traditional pipelines that needs to be discovered and nurtured. It’s really exciting to know that we’re in a world right now where one doesn’t have to have gone to a certain school or live in a certain place in order to find a readership and success. Managers and executives and gatekeepers have to make a concerted effort to go find those people. Sometimes they come to you, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and snap your fingers and have a diverse staff.
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Clara Jeffery

Lance Iversen/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis

Clara Jeffery

Co-editor in chief, Mother Jones

Journalism is no different than any other profession in that it’s hard for women and hard for working moms
Journalism is no different than any other profession in that it’s hard for women and hard for working moms to thread the needle of being there for their family and finding the support in their job to do that. Structural things like no institutional daycare, et cetera. Those things bedevil our industry as much as any other. At Mother Jones, we don’t have on-site daycare. But we do offer very generous family leave and we have a lot of tolerance and structures in place that help parents take leave if they need it. They can work from home and they can do all kinds of things. We’re better than most. I think everybody could be doing better, and some of that in my estimation would need a more societal, governmental overhaul. My advice to women who want to lead in journalism is to first find the specific subset of what you love to do and that makes you thrive and happy, and find a place where you are supported by your employers. It doesn’t just have to be women mentoring other women at all, but you need to find a place where it’s a good atmosphere. Part of that is that women are treated fairly and encouraged to take leadership roles, encouraged to speak up. Not pushed to the sidelines. And encouraged to try different things. I think another thing that happens in our industry is that women are pigeonholed into writing and editing family-focused stuff or memoir-focused stuff. That’s all great, but it shouldn’t be that they’re pigeonholed and that’s what they should be doing. I think it’s also if you’re in a news organization that you’re not just writing about family issues or women’s issues, that you get to dabble, and figure out what you want to do. Maybe that’s being a foreign correspondent and maybe it’s working on the political desk. But that opportunity is there for you. I never had a female boss. I certainly work with great women who are peers, and I would say at Mother Jones with Monika [Bauerlein] and I working as co-editors, we sort of joke, it’s a fabulous way to mentor each other. When Monika and I got this job we would joke that we were the only female editors of “thought leader” magazines, which is this silly category, that had really ever, except, Tina Brown twice and Deirdre English who had been the editor of Mother Jones before. There were just not that many women leaders of thought leader magazines. The whole landscape has changed and one of those changes is that there are a lot more women running news organizations of all different kinds. It’s really encouraging, just what I’ve seen in the past 10 years. I’m not even sure what the stereotype has been, but there are women news organization leaders out there, who are very super hierarchical and rule with an iron fist, and there are some who do things differently, just as there are for men. But at least, I think we’re starting to see enough women out there so that there’s not just one model, or it’s not such a rarity to encounter that, that you think every other female boss is going to be just like the one you happened to have.
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Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson

Co-founder with Clayton Christensen of Rose Park Advisors investment firm, Harvard Business Review blogger

Why have women had such little success in turning their names into brands people want to fund?
Why have women had such little success in turning their names into brands people want to fund? It’s not just journalism, it’s happening in other fields. There was a study out of Harvard and Wharton earlier this year that said that investors, whether male or female—so it’s not just men—prefer pitches made from male entrepreneurs over those from female entrepreneurs, even when the pitches are identical.Then there’s also the study that was done in the legal profession that women have to be two and a half times more competent to be judged on equal footing with men. So what we know is that we just trust men’s opinions and voices more readily than we do women when it comes to being an expert. Now the question is why is that the case? I see this as being an archetype at play. I’m very focused on Jungian psychology and you’ve got this archetype of men as the swashbuckler and women as the nurturer and if you look at the masculine traits, they’re wielding power and controlling situations, and women are only feminine when they’re helping others and relating to others and nurturing. We’ve got this archetype that is deeply seated that is very difficult for us to shake. Compare Katie Couric to I think it was Peter Jennings or Dan Rather. You saw Katie Couric in the morning, we loved her in the morning because it was relational and nurturing and then when she was on the evening news she actually looked forlorn. She really did look forlorn because she was going against the archetype. Oprah has made a name for herself, not by being the expert, which we typically think of male journalists doing, but by being relational and nurturing. How can men become better allies and advocates in the workplace? Giving everyone a seat at the table is the right thing to do but I think the reality is that it’s not going to happen until a man has had a wife or a daughter or a sister who has experienced the pain of not being heard. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. No one cedes power just because. They just don’t. We don’t. Especially because most men would argue that they don’t see themselves as having male privilege in the first place. I think it is changing gradually, but it still is going to take awhile. The other piece is that men who have had an experience of being an outsider—whether it’s a man who’s been an immigrant and knows what it’s like to be an outsider—they’re more likely to include women. There’s empirical evidence that having men and women on the same team raises the team’s collective intelligence and its ability to solve complex problems. That’s going to kick in. But’s it’s still going to be gradual. Going back to disruptive innovation, men in a newsroom are the incumbents and incumbents just don’t change. I mean, why should they? It’s too painful, it’s too difficult. Because even though there’s that impulse to change and even with an organization like an Apple where they knew they needed to disrupt themselves, when they cannibalized themselves it was still themselves. In this particular situation, for a man to say, OK, I want to have this woman speak up, he’s cannibalizing himself, but there’s no actual benefit to him as an individual. So it’ll take awhile. If you go back to our disruptive innovation theme, you can’t storm the citadel, you don’t make progress. The way you make progress is you go out on the fringes where no one else is playing and you disrupt. That’s what Oprah did, that’s what you have even seen something like Pinterest do. Now, it’s not owned by women, but it’s been built by women. Oprah did the same thing. She just said: You know I’m going to take my relational, nurturing, my connectivity approach and I’m going to go out and she built an empire. Where the real change is going to come is in new entities.
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Wanda Lloyd

David Bundy/Montgomery Advertiser

Wanda Lloyd

Former executive editor, Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser

Bringing women and people of color into an organization means also respecting them for their skills
Bringing women and people of color into an organization means also respecting them for their skills and encouraging their potential. I hate to go retro with the word “programs,” but that was a big part of the success of many people like me in the 1980s and ‘90s. There were many opportunities to get training, be put into management tracks, and receive mentoring. Of course, there has to be a commitment from upper management to make this happen. There needs to be a direct correlation between those who get into these programs and mentoring to make sure participants are supported as they rise through the ranks. Also, there needs to be incentives to address retention of leadership program participants so they don’t take their new skills elsewhere. The only way to foster successful diversity is to include meaningful diversity at all levels. Consider appointing mentors to women who express an interest in moving up. In some cases, mentors will not be other women and that’s okay as long as the chosen mentors are committed to the end result of the relationship—helping mentees chart a path up the ranks.
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Marcy McGinnis

Marcy McGinnis

Senior vice president, newsgathering, Al Jazeera America

The reason why I feel very strongly about women in positions of authority
The reason why I feel very strongly about women in positions of authority is because the people in authority are the people who can effect change in an organization. For example, when I was at CBS many, many, many years ago, there were a lot of women working on the morning broadcast who were in their 30s. A lot of them were newly married and having children.A group of them came to me and said, “Is there any way that we might be able to do a job share? If we could do a job share. I would work three days a week. This person would work two days a week.” It was a way that they would be able to keep their jobs and we would still have the benefit of their experience.The funny thing was they would end up going off staff because they’d end up working part time. To the company’s benefit, it would be, “Oh, wow. We don’t have to be paying benefits but we’d still have these experienced people working these days.” I took it to the senior group and one of the first reactions, I’ll never forget, it was a man who said, “Why would we do that? We’ve never done it before.” Without me in the room to explain why it’s a good idea, then everybody in the room would have said, “Yeah, why would we do that? We haven’t done that before. That’s stupid. Why would we do it?” You would do it because these people are very good at their jobs. They’re very dedicated. They’re going to work just as hard on their two days and three days. They’re going to work in concert and it’s going to get done. “Why not?” is my question. “Why not?” rather than “why?” By the way, the policy did get instituted for the job share. I truly believe that it would not have been instituted had women not been in that room making those decisions.
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Kate O'Brian

Courtesy of Al Jazeera America

Kate O’Brian

President, Al Jazeera America

Places that are willing to be flexible in how people work—for both men and women
Places that are willing to be flexible in how people work—for both men and women, but it might be affecting women more than men—are the most successful in terms of retention. I have been a full-time employee, a part-time employee, a job sharer, a freelancer and back now to being a full-time employee. And all of those were for one company [ABC News]. I am now with a different company, but that one company was willing to as my life changed incorporate that into being able to continue working. That’s the key for everybody, particularly now when the expectation of millennials coming into the business is that work will conform to their lives more than the traditional expectations when I was coming up that your life has to conform to the work.
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Geneva Overholser

Photo Courtesy of USC Annenberg

Geneva Overholser

Former editor, The Des Moines Register

The newsroom culture desperately needs to shift
The newsroom culture desperately needs to shift from the old “We journalists know news, and it looks like this, and that’s what the public has to get” to a new ethos: The public is no longer just sitting there receiving the “wisdom” produced by our narrow conventional definitions of news. We need to figure out how to serve the myriad interests of our fast-changing communities. The best allies in this new ethos are people who themselves have had varied and differing life experiences. When this new ethos takes hold, then people of different economic and educational backgrounds, different ages, genders, ethnicities, become the “experts.” To date, we’ve dutifully sought to hire “different” folks but then forced them to conform to the reigning ethos. This isn’t comfortable for anyone. If men are forcing themselves to speak less but really don’t believe that others have more to say, it won’t work. Everyone needs to believe that LISTENING to people who have views other than their own is more important to the newsroom than ensuring that their own wisdom prevails. Newsrooms are allergic to cultural conversations like this, but they really are essential. Folks have to quit thinking of diversity as a wearisome duty and start understanding it as a key to success, an exciting prospect, the only way to win in the future. And it turns out that, for most people, it’s a lot more fun to work with a wider assortment of folks.
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Emily Ramshaw

Todd Wiseman, The Texas Tribune

Emily Ramshaw

Editor, The Texas Tribune

Don’t wait for someone to hand you a leadership opportunity; make one for yourself
Don’t wait for someone to hand you a leadership opportunity; make one for yourself. The women I know with leadership roles in their newsrooms by and large staked their claim to them. They saw holes, didn’t wait for permission to fill them, and quickly became instrumental to their operations. Don’t be afraid to seek out nontraditional journalism models. Start-up digital news organizations pride themselves on breaking the mold on everything from storytelling to the business model. They’re creating their own cultures from the ground up, not inheriting it. That inherently creates opportunities for women at the top. When my friend and colleague Brandi Grissom came on board at The Texas Tribune in 2009, she was a criminal justice reporter with legislative reporting roots at the AP and the El Paso Times. First, she saw holes in our investigative reporting, and aggressively pursued major deep-dive reporting projects around the death penalty and mental health that put the Trib on the map. Then she saw a leadership and project management gap. She became a student of best practices, interviewing investigative editors across the country and visiting them in their newsrooms. Back at the Trib, she started working with other reporters to inject watchdog journalism into their arsenals. Within short order, she’d become our projects editor, overseeing major investigative endeavors and staff-wide initiatives that involved up to a dozen reporters, developers, and artists. Unfortunately for us, Brandi’s leadership initiative wasn’t just noticed in-house. She was just named enterprise editor of the Los Angeles Times.
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Susan Smith Richardson

Michelle Kanaar/The Chicago Reporter

Susan Smith Richardson

Editor and publisher, The Chicago Reporter

I am lucky
I am lucky. My older sister had been a journalist for several years before I entered my first newspaper newsroom. She told me to expect resistance to my ideas and skepticism about my abilities because I was black and a woman. Being prepared meant I knew how gender discrimination might play out. That meant I felt less crazy when I was marginalized. It’s important to know when the problem isn’t you. Don’t internalize discrimination or criticism. That keeps you from standing up for yourself, plus you can’t think straight to do your best work. And, of course, how newsrooms value employee contributions is far from objective. I think we’re still in a period in which we’re trying to occupy a model we didn’t create, from definitions of what makes a good news story to how to cover poor communities and communities of color, rather than trying to subvert the model. At the end of the day, as a black woman I’m not interested in upholding newsrooms norms. I’m interested in rewriting them.
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Debra Adams Simmons

Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer

Debra Adams Simmons

Vice president, Advance Local; former editor, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

I had women who nurtured my career and helped me grow as a newsroom leader
I had women who nurtured my career and helped me grow as a newsroom leader. I also had men, black and white, who have supported me and have been role models throughout my career. Your role models don’t always have to look like you for the relationship and your career to flourish. I certainly have tried to create a path for others. I’ve coached new mothers on juggling work and life. I’ve encouraged young men, including black men, to raise their hands for positions of increased responsibility. There are many variables that contribute to underrepresentation. Even though women are getting a great number of communications degrees, they do not always pursue opportunities in news. Sometimes, when they do pursue industry opportunities, they ultimately leave for jobs with better pay, better hours, even better opportunities, more manageable work-life balance and less volatility. Essentially, women often leave the industry for the same reasons men leave the industry. Many of my contemporaries have left the business in recent years but that has more to do with the industry’s financial model than with frustrations about securing leadership roles. That’s not to suggest that it’s not difficult to rise to the top of the profession. And it’s been even more difficult for women of color. Few women of color have been included in recent discussions about women in the newsroom, partly because there are so few and partly because they are not front and center in the minds of those having the debate. Those who hire news leaders need to more aggressively build diverse talent pools. My big concern now is the lack of diversity in the digital news space. When you look at the leadership of nearly all of the cutting edge digital initiatives, there are even fewer women and people of color. We should not be making the same mistakes. If we had diversity at the inception, we would not have to overcorrect later.
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Margaret Low Smith

Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Margaret Low Smith

Vice president, The Atlantic; former senior vice president for news, NPR

I grew up thinking that anything was possible for women
I grew up thinking that anything was possible for women. Newsrooms are inherently aggressive, ambitious, and demanding. It’s not how women are socialized. I am a big believer that you can be thoughtful and humane and also principled and tough, and make hard decisions. Those can and must go hand in hand, whether you’re a female leader or a male leader. You have to have that whole constellation. Great leadership takes multiple forms. It is important to have a breadth and a depth of who it is from. That is vital because if you don’t, then you don’t have the truest form of reporting and understanding the world.
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Julia Turner

Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo

Julia Turner

Editor, Slate

I think we’re in the middle of a sea change, in journalism and in general
I think we’re in the middle of a sea change, in journalism and in general. My parents were both newspaper journalists, so I grew up around a lot of women (and men) who were veterans of the newsrooms of the 1970s and ‘80s, and I heard the wild stories they’d tell. I have a deep appreciation of how far journalism has come on the gender front since then. Newsroom culture is changing. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to work at places where the quality of your curiosity is your ticket forward and gender rarely feels like a factor. I tend to think that as the rising generation takes the reins, we’ll see more women leaders. One characteristic of my cohort is that men and women are both demanding a more flexible workplace, which can make it easier to balance family life with work. Journalism can be a great job for flexibility, and digital publishing can enhance that. Publishing online makes deadlines a bit more fluid (news is news, but there’s no blank space in the morning paper to fill) and makes it easier to work in all sorts of places. At Slate, both men and women take advantage of that, and it’s a good way to attract talented people and keep them with you as they learn and grow.
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