Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Revolving Door

According to this editorial, the kind of news that gets reported in major newspapers may be affected by the gender of the newsroom management. For instance:

...male and female reporters covered a similar agenda of issues if they worked for a newspaper with a large number of women in managerial positions. However, if they worked for a paper with a low number of women newsroom managers, there was likely to be a skewed pattern in assignments, with males more often covering politics and females more likely to cover education and human-interest features.

Is this giving the people what they want? This article says no, although I daresay the perception is relative:

...certain types of content have a greater potential to make readers read more. At the top of the list is "intensely local, people-centered news, which includes stories about ordinary people," and lifestyle news--the positive material surveys find is associated with the presence of women newsroom managers.

There's a certain leap in logic here that I don't completely follow. Isn't it just a short slide from there to the news nuggets about the percentage of Americans eating celery that USA Today has brought to us? But maybe that's getting off topic.

Just 1 in 5 of the nation's top female editors say they definitely want to move up in the newspaper industry, according to a study released this fall by the American Press Institute and The Pew Center for Civic Journalism. In contrast, almost 1 out of 2 said they expected to leave their company or the news business entirely, far more than the 1 in 3 men who say they want to move up or change careers.

I'd like to see more about what's causing this exodus, but the literature hasn't done a great job of addressing this yet. Are the women leaving because they're fed up, overworked, underpaid, quitting to raise families? These questions remain unanswered, but I see the door revolve every day and it makes me wonder.

(Also posted at Bells and Whistles)

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