Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Does the NYT/IHT Have a Woman Problem?

Readers of this blog could be forgiven for thinking it's more about Rupes than the IHT, but 'follow the oppo' I hope is the IHT/NYT's mantra (follow what they're doing that is, not necessarily go ahead and do what they are doing).

According to Portfolio.com, the question being asked is whether Murdoch's Journal has a 'woman problem'.

There's hardly a newsroom in America whose female denizens haven't at at some point described it -- usually with some fairness -- as a boys' club. But has The Wall Street Journal become more of one since Rupert Murdoch bought it?
Some at the paper have begun to say so, albeit quietly, in the weeks since managing editor Robert Thomson put his leadership team in place. In the
new desk structure introduced last month, all five of the top editors in charge of daily news operations -- Thomson, senior deputy m.e. Mike Miller, and deputy m.e.'s Nik Deogun, Matt Murray and Mike Williams -- are men.
As that shuffle was going on, Laurie Hays, the deputy managing editor in charge of investigations, was leaving for a job at Bloomberg. Her departure -- said to be at least partly the result of marginalization from above -- left the paper with only two women among its nine deputy m.e.'s, neither of them with a news job: Alix Freedman, the editor in charge of standards and ethics, and Cathy Panagoulias, who oversees staffing.
And then there was the recent
buyout of Carol Hymowitz, the management columnist who doubles as the paper's point person on women's workplace issues. "She's a mentor to scores of young women at the paper, and routinely takes them under her wing," says one colleague.
Put it all together and you have, if not the makings of a clear pattern, then at least a confluence worthy of comment -- especially in light of the questionable sexual politics at other Murdoch-owned outlets. At Fox News, it's an all-but-official rule that women must
show their legs, while at the New York Post, political correctness exists only to be mocked. "It's a locker-room environment -- raucous, sexist, quite misogynist," says one former editor.
But while some Journal employees believe the influence of women has diminished since Murdoch's arrival, others caution against drawing too many conclusions. "You can't say it's all Murdoch," says one female veteran, pointing out that the current gender imbalance has its roots in events that predate News Corp.'s takeover (including the launch of Portfolio, which drew much of its talent, male and female, from the Journal).
Indeed, the Journal is hardly unique in having a surfeit of (mostly white) men calling the plays. Only four of the 16 editors on
The New York Times's masthead are women; at the Washington Post, it's zero out of five. Nationally, women account for about 37 percent of newsroom employees, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. It's against this backdrop that the Journal deserves to be considered, say sympathizers. "To be fair to Rupert and Thomson, there wasn't a particularly strong bench of women there in the first place," says a former reporter.
And it's not as if the Journal's women have been stymied across the board. Former China bureau chief Rebecca Blumenstein was
recently placed in charge of international news. "That's going to be a very key job," says a source. The "Marketplace" section is now in the hands of newly-promoted Elyse Tanouye (although she now reports to Matt Murray only four months after an earlier reorganization that had placed them on the same plane). All in all, the Journal has about 20 women in senior leadership roles, says a spokesman.
Still, skeptics remain. "There are some 'To be sures,'" says one staffer, referring to the sentence in any trend story where inconvenient counterexamples are dispensed with, "but I think the boys-clubbiness of Murdoch and Thomson's management structure is hard to ignore."


"Only four of the 16 editors on The New York Times's masthead"??

Any thoughts on this issue, confidentially of course, from members of either the NYT or IHT newsroom, would be gratefully received.

Incidentally, I did like this comment posted to the above article:

"Male or female, it doesn't matter. ALL the senior executives at WSJ are unpleasant passive-aggressive schemers who will just as soon rub your back as put a knife in it."

I'm glad I only blog about newspapers.


International Herald Tribune
New York Times

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