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News Coverage Of Women's Issues Not A Fad, But Long Overdue

Oct 13, 2017

The New York Times recently exposed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for his sexual harassment of women for decades. This week, the country’s paper of record announced a new editor, dedicated to leading coverage of gender issues. More specifically: women.

It comes at a time when there’s been a flurry of news stories about powerful men and powerful companies harassing women, discriminating against them and otherwise making work life miserable.

This decision isn’t just a reaction to a fad, said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute of Media Studies.

“The New York Times has always had a good record of doing deep thinking kind of pieces on gender issues. There are other publications that have more of a record. In fact, Jezebel, which was formerly owned by Gawker, has made a cottage industry out of covering these issues,” McBride said. “I think there’s demand for this. And I think what we’re realizing in journalism is that there are a lot of stories that we just haven’t covered.

The new Gender Editor at the New York Times Gender - Jessica Bennett – said in an interview with Poynter that a lot of these stories have been hiding in plain sight – such as a self-published article by an ex-Uber engineer about that company’s treatment of women employees. That article led to the ouster of Uber’s CEO and massive changes at the company.

The media, however, have missed it, McBride said. She said that was the case with the Catholic priest abuse scandals that were lingering for decades before the Boston Globe exposed it in an investigation.

“Many times in journalism, stories are lying around and they feel overripe, like we’ve already told them,” she said. “Then one small thing happens and the story just explodes. And we realize, oh we’ve only scratched the surface.”