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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 07:13 AM
Original message
Males vs. Females in Progressive Media
Am I complaining? You bet. Am I asking for some affirmative action? Indeed, I am.

Males vs. Females in Progressive Media

Is it possible that twice as many men as women are worthy progressive commentators? If we go by the numbers of those who have a platform, we might be led to that conclusion.

You may quibble about my criteria in the lists below, but you cannot deny that men substantially outnumber women in commentary that should include such issues as putting the sexes on an equal footing. These lists do not, and are not meant to, constitute a scientific study, so please dont write to tell me that you disagree with a particular inclusion or exclusion. Its just one persons perception. Look at the big picture, and then try to tell me Im wrong.

Oh, and while Im at it, may I mention that as far as I know there are only six African Americans on these lists?

Click here to see the lists.

Carolyn Kay
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dorkulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 07:15 AM
Response to Original message
1. Where's Amy Goodman? n/t
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 08:07 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Would the inclusion of Amy Goodman...
... change the big picture?


That's why I asked that we not get into specific inclusions or exclusions.

Carolyn Kay
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dorkulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. So we're supposed to just accept your tally...
even when there are such obvious omissions? Screw that. How is this any different from one of those bogus lists of liberal vs. conservative journalists you can find at Accuracy in Media? Sorry, but accuracy is kind of important.
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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
2. Lots Of Names Missing From The List
For example...of the bloggers I don't see Jane Hamsher and Redd from Firedoglake or Georgia10 at DailyKos. Or isn't Kristina Van Den Huevel a journalist since she's the editor of a magazine rather than an author...and there are people like Laura Washington (Chicago Sun Times) and Cynthia Tucker (Atlanta Journal Constitution)...two excellent black female writers who weren't on the list.

You have a point that there are far more men being seen and heard as "Democratic" spokespeople or representing "the left" than women, but that's more an indication of the media culture on the whole. Also, with limited opportunities, any voices other than the Mighty Wurlitzer orchestrated by the Repugnicans and the Corporate media is welcome...any voice is better than no voice at all.

The bigger picture is the overall culture of the corporate media. It's patrician and is slow to change...especially when it comes to money and power. The lack of opportunity makes it difficult for Progressive, Liberal and Democratic voices and the inability of these groups to create their own alternative media has been a major contributor to many of the misunderstanding and characterizations that became "fact" (such as libruls are evil) in the corporate media.

Change is coming...slowly, but it's coming. 25 years ago female opinion columnists and commentators were a very rare breed. Many of the names you cite have emerged in recent while the imbalance exists times are changing. Whether it's to your liking is another matter.

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liveoaktx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. What constitutes one having a "platform"?
Is it whether one "has" a platform" or whether one has spent a whole lot of money in constantly advertising a platform? Ie, if a male platform is more well-known because that person regularly spends money advertising it, does that, in your list, make it a more legitimate platform than one that is regularly visited but by word of mouth?
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 11:32 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. I specified that the only blogs...
... included were the progressive blogs listed in the Technorati 100. I have included only the prime person behind each of those blogs.

If you want to dictate methodology, make your own list. What I came up with is MY perception. If you don't see that women are far behind men in progressive commentary, when there are talented women available, then there isn't much to discuss.

I remember the 1960s, when we women were first coming to understand that we could be more than just nursemaids throughout our lives. You say change is coming, but 40 years is a long time to wander around in the desert, and to STILL be wandering around lost.

Carolyn Kay
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liveoaktx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 12:04 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Disagree with your methodology but don't see the need to create
yet another list.

Your original premise is that men outnumber women in progressive media but your perceptions leave out both significant people such as Amy Goodman, Jane Hamden, etc as well as the huge number of women who blog but may not make it into a Top 100 list.

Seems to me that you are premising your list on who advertises most, who corporate media has on its invitation list, etc. And if that's so, you are right- but there are voices from all over the spectrum who speak out but don't or can't fall into those categories.
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. It's, uh, Hamsher...
Jane Hamsher.

And for every Jane Hamsher there's a Tbogg and a Brad DeLong and a Glenn Greenwald and a Stranger at Blah3.

I showed you my list. Now you show me yours. But try to get the names right, would you?

Carolyn Kay
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Solo_in_MD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
4. You are not asking for afirmative action, you are asking for
numeric parity, and very different thing. Equal opportuinity != equal outcomes. Such silliness hurts the progressive movement in many ways.
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Is it your position...
... that men are superior by nature in doing progressive commentary? That's the only way your dismissal makes any sense. When 51% of the population is only 25% represented in an endeavor, then I say something's wrong, and needs to be corrected.

Carolyn Kay
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
9. I would like to postpone all of these circular firing squads
until after November. In csae you hadn't noticed, libs/progressives of any race, creed, color, gender, and age group find it difficult to find and keep media jobs. When we are so underrepresented as a group, isn't disecting the internal demographic nit-picking to the point of absurdity? What purpose does it serve?
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 03:37 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. So I should just sit back...
... and look pretty, and let the men take the lead?


As always?

I must tell you that I NEVER, EVER thought that people who call themselves progressives would have such a negative reaction to hearing an unpleasant truth.

Carolyn Kay
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SheWhoMustBeObeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 07:29 AM
Response to Original message
12. KharmaTrain makes an important point when he refers to
the culture of corporate media. I would like to add some perspective by comparing progressive media's scorecard to that of the media industry overall - not just nationally, but globally.

The Global Media Monitoring Project just released its most recent report last month. This project is sponsored by the United Nations and is designed to measure the presentation of men and women in the media. Individuals from over 70 countries participated by monitoring their local TV, radio and newspapers on one day: February 16, 2005.

Among the project's findings:

- There is not a single major news topic in which women outnumber men as newsmakers. Even in stories that affect women profoundly, such as gender-based violence, it is the male voice (64 per cent of news subjects) that prevails.

- News is still mainly reported and presented by men. The only exception is among television presenters. 57% of television news stories are presented by women. (It can be speculated that female dominance in this area is due to the eye candy aspect of the women who are hired. Even the Weather Channel unlawfully discriminates based on appearance, as evidenced by this story: ) Elsewhere women are a minority. This imbalance is most evident in newspapers where only 29% of newspaper items are written by female reporters.

- Women journalists continue to be assigned soft beats such as entertainment, relationships, food and home.

- Women are twice as likely to be portrayed as victims as are men. Photo images also reinforce the notion of women as victims.

Project coordinator Anna Turley says, "From Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, we see the same patterns of under-representation and stereotyped portrayal of women in the news,The reason for these patterns is complicated. From the story angle and the choice of interview questions to the use of language and the choice of images; all these have a bearing on the messages that emerge in the news. These patterns are deeply rooted not only in professional practice, but in wider social assumptions about female and male attributes, roles and competencies."

The full GMMP report can be downloaded here:

So the global picture of women in the media is not very positive. Surely things are better in the USA?

Let's start with the nearest thing to outright progressive media: NPR, or National Pinko Radio as the freeps refer to it. It's not only not very liberal, it's not progressive in regard to women. A report released in 2004 by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting states that women comprised only 18% of NPR sources for political stories, and represented just 24% of NPR commentators (a significant increase from 1993).

Moving on to TV news shows,females accounted for just 10.7% of Sunday morning talk shows. That was before the 9-11 attacks. After 9-11, that percentage dropped to 9.4%...even though most of these shows are produced by women.

But producers are not the ultimate media power brokers. Women comprise only 16% of TV and cable presidents and CEOs, according to a 2003 Anneberg study. A statistic from another survey puts the percentage of women TV news directors at under 27%.

That statistic goes up to only 18% for women presidents/CEOs of publishing companies.

At newspapers there are plenty of women working. Far fewer have a public profile, and fewer still control the reins.

But is it just lack of opportunity, or are women loathe to push for power by playing by "boys' rules?" I have certainly experienced that in my own career, as has this female magazine editor:

Meanwhile on the internet, the same perceptions about male and female authority impact blog popularity, even though half of all bloggers (not just political bloggers) are estimated to be female.


When the world of media is examined, it becomes clear that the shortcomings of progressive media are endemic to all media. Even more, there is no single villian that can be held completely accountable for these problems; the power brokers who dispense media, the public that consumes it, and the people who work in it all share some responsibility for the low profile of women. It is a tangled web, a chicken-and-egg paradox.

But in progressive media's defense, I would argue that, even if its ratio of women commentators, columnists, hosts and bloggers is no different than general media's, there is a significant difference in the number of female guests and expert sources, a difference that impacts the portrayal of female authority and power.

There is also a significant difference in progressive media's portrayal of women in the news stories it covers. Time and again on AAR, and in the pages of The Nation or Harper's, and in the wide range of progressive blogs and sites, I hear and read about women in stories that are about more than "women's issues," in the words of women who talk about more than "women's interests." It's not the best; it could be better; but it's the best we've got, and so much better than anything else.

I hope you get the chance to look at some of the links. I went looking for info and found all kinds of things I didn't know, and I barely scratched the surface. Thank you for posting a thought-provoking question.

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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 08:13 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. But it was the predominance of male guests...
... on my favorite progressive hosts' radio shows that started me thinking. I don't have the resources to do a list of guests, but it really does seem that there are an awful lot of males there, too.

Carolyn Kay
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Caro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
13. Back to the 50s. Oh, did we never leave them?
Here are some of the email exchanges on this topic.

Message from Paul V:

Caro, for the first time ever I must take exception to your items about the gender of those in the progressive media. There are two components:

1) The expectations that every endeavor in life must be equally represented by every possible human classification.

2) The implication that this intentional, to keep "the other' down or out.

Both are significant liberal ways of "thinking" far too often...

The lists almost made me laugh. First of all, the vast majority of men listed I have never even heard of! Me, a dyed in the wool liberal media wonk. Contrarily, I have at least a passing acquaintance of almost all of the women. What that list also tells me, is that the opportunity for a woman to break into the progressive media as a woman is a hell of a lot easier than for a man! Think about that, "you" have only a few women to compete against, men have a lot more other men. Before you say, "But 'I' am also competing against the men." that would only hold true if "you" were gender blind, and the hiring authorities were. Obviously, neither are.

Life is unfair. Unfair is not the same as unethical or immoral. If there was a law discriminating against women in the field, that is patently legally and ethically wrong. But there isn't...

My response

But what if it isnt intentional? What if its one of those insidious biases we dont even know we have? If thats the case, how will we ever get past it, if we dont acknowledge it? We used to call it consciousness raising in the 60s.

If you object to my criteria, or my inclusions in the list, why dont you make your own list? Id be interested to see the result.

All I ask is that I be evaluated on my own merits, but I dont think I am. I have some talent as a writer, and sometimes a unique perspective, but I havent been able to break down the formidable barriers against getting paid in this business. I dont consider it competing, I just want someone to take me seriously, despite the facts that Im female, almost 62 years old, live in flyover country, didnt go to an Ivy League college, and am not independently wealthy.

I want to be judged on the strength of my ideas and my ability to express them, but I dont think thats whats happening.

It doesnt take a law against something to make it ethically wrong. You know that.

Message from Alan R

Here's why: Women aren't applying for the positions.
It's that simple. No great sexist conspiracy to keep women down here.
In general, women aren't as attracted to careers in politics as men are.
In fact, if you adjust the figures to reflect the ratio of applicants, I believe you'll find that women actually have a BETTER chance of succeeding in political careers than men do. So no affirmative action is necessary.
Don't complain to men. It's not our fault that women aren't interested in politics.

My response

Better chance. Number of applicants. Uh huh. I showed you an actual list. You gave me hunches.

The members of the political message groups I belong to and the readers of MakeThemAccountable are at least 50% women.

Time to think up another hunch.

Message from Shirley J


It must be terrible to be so insecure and have such low self-esteem. All you feminists are alike. You feel so very threatened and intimidated by anything that is male-dominated. Why is that? People like you make me ashamed and embarrassed to be a woman. I couldn't care less if something is dominated by males. How come it bothers you so much? What is the big deal? Who cares? You and your ilk act as if it is always a bad thing for something to be male-dominated. What is really pathetic about you is that you act as if you live in some fantasy world where you expect everything to be equal. People are not equal. They never have been, and they never will be. As much as you hate to admit it, men and women are DIFFERENT! THEY ARE NOT EQUAL! The world has never been equal for everybody and it never will be. Why can't you accept that and stop living in a dream world?...

My response

Well, Shirley, I guess those slaves on the plantations, shucking and jiving and singing their hymns, were having just a great time, too.

Maybe my concern has something to do with needing to eat from time to time. And have a roof over my head. And, God forbid, go to the doctor every now and then. And I want to be able to do that by working for pay in an area where I have a bit of talent and a lot of passion.

What I want is an equal chance, not an equal result.

Yes, that definitely makes me sick in the head.

Carolyn Kay
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