Where Are the Women?
Why we need more female newsroom leadersPLUS
Read more stories from prominent female leaders
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.