Some Thoughts on Women in the Media

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Entertainment Weekly

Katie Couric may not be everyone’s favorite broadcaster, but she has always struck me as a dedicated reporter, even when she was covering “fluffier” news on the TODAY show. Now she’s reporting from Iraq, making it difficult for people to accuse her of only covering the softer issues in life. Instead, critics are saying she went abroad to increase her ratings. What do you think?

In his Morning Meeting column, Al Tompkins mentioned “the whole Katie Couric thing,” saying, “I often wonder why news organizations are so harsh in their treatment of Couric. Finally, a female has made the unprecedented move of becoming a nightly news anchor, and rather than praise her, the media have ridiculed her.” Some people responded to Al’s column, sharing similar sentiments.

I respect Couric for not lashing out against the news organizations that have treated her harshly, and I hope she will hold onto the position of nightly news anchor. We need women to continue to thrive in journalism and to not just hold reporting positions, but editorial and leadership positions as well. I couldn’t believe how many cover letters I addressed to male editors when sending out job applications last winter. Of the 75 applications I sent, I would say about an eighth were to female editors. Look at the masthead in newspapers. It’s not often you see a woman as the executive editor, vice president, or publisher of a paper.

This discussion reminds me of a new book out called “Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women,” written by a Boston University professor and media critic, Caryl Rivers. In her book, Rivers talks about how pop sociology distorts women’s view of their role in the working world. There’s an assumption, Rivers says, that working women have horrible marriages, bad sex, and children who misbehave, all suggesting that women should hang up their phones in the office and instead pick up the slack at home. Isn’t it possible to be a working mother and wife, though? Julia Wallace of the Atlanta Journal Constitution proves that it is.

Here are some other good reads:

“Pregnant Pause: What’s the real story behind Elizabeth Vargus’ departure from World News Tonight?”: Slate

“Alas, poor Couric”: New York Magazine

“Exit Strategies for television news”: The Boston Globe

What do you think about the role of female reporters? Do you think they’re at a disadvantage or are people just making a big deal out of nothing?

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