Current Issue Summary

Vol. 45, No. 4, Fall 2017


Reporting While Female: What It’s Really Like

Since our last issue was published in August, MRTW has been stockpiling a dizzying number of accounts of what it has been like to be a woman in journalism.  The accounts range from modeling the reporter’s role of bold truth-finder (paging April Ryan at the White House) to honors for journalistic achievement to exposing the slimy sexual advances of newsroom bosses and continuing biases in hiring and advancement of women in news.

The accounts of sexual predators that have been surfacing are critical to making a course correction in the machismo that’s acted out daily in businesses around the world.  The danger is a “once-and-done” mentality that suggests that punishing one big name will bring all the others in line.  It won’t. The penalty for office power-tripping that leads to sexual harassment or assault has to be clear and enforceable.  And not only bosses and co-workers, but news sources need to know it, too.

Another issue – sexualizing the female TV journalist for viewer gratification and rejecting able professionals who don’t conform to the stereotype – needs to be confronted.  Passing over qualified women for men over and over again should trigger a red flag to those doing the hiring.The ratio of male to female newsroom employees, with women representing just a little over a third, hasn’t changed in years.  Online news startups don’t seem to be doing much better. Why is that?

This edition of MRTW explores these issues, and others, affecting women in journalism.

Hollywood Content Needs a New Script at Every Level

We’ll try to get through this article without saying “Harvey Weinstein,” though the attitudes and environment he and other drooling Hollywood notables have fostered is responsible for the lack of opportunity and parity in employment for women in Hollywood projects and the reliance on formula-based productions that limit women’s full expression in film roles in front of and behind the camera.

There is a lot of energy around seeing better-quality movies and television series for women and girls, which would also benefit the men who watch with them.  That will happen only with more robust and equitable employment of women throughout the film industry, a desire that prompted organization of a Women’s Media Summit in Provincetown, MA, in March 2017 that produced a White Paper in September with seven creative action plans for addressing gender gaps in entertainment media. This edition of MRTW considers the problem from a number of angles.

Analysis: Public Relations History Through Women’s Eyes by Karen Miller Russell and Margot Opdycke Lamme

Research in Depth: ‘The Nation’s Stamp of Approval’: The 1976 Women’s Magazine Campaign for the ERA by Urszula Pruchniewska and Carolyn Kitch

Research in Depth: Critical Feminist Frames in U.S. Media Coverage of Female Olympians in Rio by Christina Villalon, Karen Weiller Abels, and John Nauright

Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972 and PDFs from more recent years. Indispensable for research!