Women Do News: Campaign Now To Raise Visibility of Women Journalists Globally
You have to be seen and heard.
To that end, Angilee Shah, Jareen Imam, Katherine Rowlands and Emily Gertz have a mission on behalf of women journalists.
These four accomplished journalists, as part of Take The Lead’s inaugural 50 Women Can Change The World in Journalism cohort, have a plan to specifically increase the visibility, recognition and credibility of women journalists around the world.
On November 2 and 16 of this year, they launch The Women Do News campaign to nominate women journalists for articles on Wikipedia and “to harness our power and collectively make change.”
They are starting with Wikipedia, where only 18 percent of the biographical entries are about women, according to the Wikimedia Foundation.
“Our goal is to increase the number of female journalists and writers on Wikipedia in order to add a level of safety and transparency and to elevate the profiles of female journalists around the world,” says Shah, an independent journalist who has worked in public media and as an international correspondent.
The absence of women journalists from public sites such as Wikipedia can be used “often times to discredit female journalists and negate their work,” Shah says.
Imam, director of social news gathering at NBC News, and formerly with “48 Hours” as a researcher, followed by work at CNN and CBS, says inclusion in Wikipedia adds credibility.
“By creating theses profiles for women journalists, they can have legitimate profiles that will add to their security,” says Imam who leads a team of global journalists at NBC.
Along with Rowlands, President and Executive Director, Bay City News and BCN Foundation, and Gertz, a freelance journalist, Shah and Imam spearheaded the initiative as part of their work with Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change The World program.
“One of the ideas we were talking about is we were wanting to do something more tangible,” Imam says, “for elevating women in the industry.”
Gender parity is an historic and pervasive problem in newsroom leadership and Take The Lead’s mission is to reach gender parity in leadership across all disciplines and industries by 2025.
The latest survey from the American Society of News Editors shows a failure to reach parity in newsrooms.
“Women — who have been two-thirds of graduates from journalism and communications programs in recent years — have not increased their newsroom representation. Across organizations in this year’s survey, women made up 41.8% of staff,” Doris Truong writes in Poynter.
“The American Society of News Editors’ 41st annual Newsroom Diversity Survey showed legacy print newsrooms’ diversity numbers have held steady since last year, still trailing the U.S. population with 22% of staffers being people of color, and even fewer holding leadership positions (just 19%),” Truong writes.
For women of color especially, representation is lacking.
The 2017 Status of Women in the U.S. Media reports that “women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and 6.2 percent of local radio staff.”
Fewer than 10 percent of journalists in newsrooms covering sports are female, with 34 percent journalists covering international news are female, and the highest percentage of female journalists, or 58 percent, covering health, according to Statista.
Similar projects have launched to change the demographics of representation on Wikipedia. WikiProject Women covers a wide selection of industries beyond media and “brings Wikipedia users of all genders, sexual orientations, geographic locations, and personal backgrounds together to discuss and collaborate on coverage of women's content across Wikipedia. Know that we warmly welcome you to participate in the project's scope, whether or not you are a project member.”
Since 2011, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC, has held an annual edit-a-thon for people to create, and add to Wikipedia pages on women in the arts. Since then, it has “grown to 500 events worldwide where more than 7,000 volunteers have helped edit over 11,000 Wikipedia articles,” according to The Guardian.
“I would hope this project would be the start of more muscle memory for women to encourage other women in the online space to be thinking about female voices and stories that make an impact,” Imam says.
Shah agrees. “I think if this project could even add 100 women to Wikipedia, even that would make a dent.”