Let’s call for more diversity in online journalism leadership

Over the past few months, news has come out about the launching of several new journalism websites. By now, we are familiar with a few of the names at the front of the new-media movement: Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, Glen Greenwald. All are respected, talented journalists, expected to go to these new platforms and do exciting things.

A problem?

As Emily Bell of The Guardian pointed out in a March 12 article, they’re all white men. So are the leaders of Vice, Buzzfeed, Politico, Grantland and more, Bell says.

In the meantime, Bell says, the lone female top editor or founder is Re/code’s Kara Swisher, who is running the site collaboratively with a man. When Bell wrote her piece, Klein had hired 10 men for “regular bylined work” and only three women, and Silver had six women on his 19-person editorial staff.

To be sure, the internet has presented journalists with an extraordinary opportunity to remake their own profession. And the rhetoric of the new wave of creativity in journalism is spattered with words that denote transformation. But the new micro-institutions of journalism already bear the hallmarks of the restrictive heritage they abandoned with such glee. — Emily Bell

How the gender balance in production of day-to-day coverage shakes out, I’m not sure. At the time this post was written, 8 of the 26 bylines on the main page of Klein’s Vox appeared to be women’s names, as did 4 of the 11 on the main page of Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. These outlets could have hired more women since Bell wrote. They could be taking content from a bunch of female freelancers. I don’t know.

But it alarms me to know that women are not well represented in the leadership of these sites. At my university and in my internships, I have met, worked with or admired the work of so many women who are amazing journalists and fantastic leaders. I would love to see one of them, or someone like them, at the helm of journalism’s next big thing.

And, of course, I don’t want to stop there. As Bell also pointed out, all the men she named are also white men. Where are the African-American men, the Latino men, the Asian men, the other non-white men? And all those women? What about people with disabilities? And can we make sure we have diversity in religious backgrounds, geographical origins and sexual orientations, too?

In journalism, we talk a lot about content diversity, making sure we’re pushing and growing and trying new things all the time. But at a time when we’re already going through a lot of change, let’s add one more thing to our innovation to-do list and make a point of diversifying our leadership and our staffs.

As Bell says,

Remaking journalism in its own image, only with better hair and tighter clothes, is not a revolution or even an evolution. It is a repackaging of the status quo with a very nice clubhouse attached. A revolution calls for a regime change of more significant depth.

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