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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

on the dangers of journalisming while female

Sally Baxter Girl Reporter

Jennifer Vanasco at Columbia Journalism Review runs down all the depressing ways in which women are discouraged from becoming investigative journalists. One of the problems [boldface mine]:

[N]ews organizations must find ways to help protect women and to support them if they are assaulted. Right now, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Women who have been assaulted on the job just don’t feel comfortable telling their employers what happened. In a 2011 report, the Committee to Protect Journalists said that many women who have been sexually assaulted while reporting never tell their editors. They worried both about the stigma attached to being assaulted and about the possibility that their editors would keep them away from future plum assignments. Said one reporter to CPJ: “I just did not want them to think of me as a girl. Especially when I am trying to be equal to, and better than, the boys. I may have told a female editor though, had I had one.

This is a problem. Sexual assault — and the threat of sexual assault — is used to intimidate female journalists into not doing their job, or as reprisal for women who do their jobs too well. As McKee said, “The more people there are with an interest in seeing a story not published, the more dangerous reporting the story is.”

Newsrooms must work to counter this, so that women feel more free to enter into investigative work, said Coronel—they “should be havens where women are able to speak freely about the dangers they face or have faced. They should be assured that speaking out would not have repercussions on their work and careers and on how they are perceived by their editors and peers,” she said.

So not only might a woman face threats and actual assault from those they’re investigating, but female journalists feel that they cannot even talk about this fact with their employers. Because their employers are invariably men… men who might see them as weak and ineffectual as a result.

Another reason to get more women in charge of more stuff.

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