In universities and colleges, women have historically outnumbered men in journalism. However, one would never realize this if they observed today’s newsrooms. Women make up over two-thirds of graduates with a degree in journalism or communications and yet they only make up a third of the journalists in newsrooms. In primary media markets, the majority of top editors are men — even though women outnumber men in the makeup of working journalists. In contemporary newsrooms, it isn’t enough for women to be in the majority receiving journalism education. They deserve to be in major roles too.
Although journalism may have started out as a male-dominated field, women have slowly become more involved – leading to a shift in perspective across newsrooms around the country. It's important to have a diverse newsroom since it will help cover a variety of issues. Female journalists often bring up and report on stories that are typically overlooked by their male counterparts. Many of the most important stories recently published were reported by female journalists. Two female reporters at the New York Times were the first to break the story about Harvey Weinstein’s numerous cases of sexual assault which ultimately sparked the #MeToo movement on social media. Another female reporter at the Miami Herald investigated how Jeffery Epstein’s initial sentencing was so lenient for the crimes he committed. Her investigation ultimately led to national headlines about Epstein’s sex trafficking and other crimes.
Diverse newsrooms will also lead to higher profit margins. A 2019 study by McKinsey found that companies with higher rates of gender diversity in executive positions were 25% more likely to experience above-average profits than peer companies. News outlets that continue to leave women out of the newsroom may very well face a decline in both readership and profits.
There are institutions and newsrooms that are excellent examples of how to promote diversity and inclusion in the newsroom. The Tennessean, a newspaper based in Nashville, Tennessee, often sets up meetings with underrepresented groups to find potential issues that need to be covered. The American Press Institute lists a variety of ways women and minorities can get involved in the newsroom. Programs such as Journalism and Women Symposium empower and promote women to pursue roles in professional journalism.
Despite the slow progression, women are starting to take up executive positions within their respective newsrooms. The Washington Post recently appointed Sally Buzbee in May 2021 as its first female executive editor and, a month before, Reuters appointed Alessandra Godwin as the first female editor of Reuters. Kimberly Godwin became president at ABC News as the first woman and the first Black person to hold that position. Although these promotions are a step in the right direction, many of them were long overdue. Newsrooms need to continue to do a better job of reflecting the communities they report on and ensure a variety of perspectives are given light.