There’s a Lack of Diversity in New Media Orgs. How Do We Fix It?


By Karen Fratti Comment

peopleThe Internet turned 25 this week and, like most twenty-somethings, still has much to work on, despite its ego. The Internet’s id shows itself in recent conversations surrounding the “new (new) journalism,” and various journalism start-ups. Emily Bell wrote yesterday that these start-ups are far from revolutionary — if only because many of them are founded and fronted by men. Think Glenn Greenwald, Ezra Klein, Nate Silver.

Is this because female journalists are less likely to be plugged as “marquee” writers, as Bell suggests? Or that they have to choose between serving others or being a stand-alone presence as columnist? Or are women simply less likely to apply (remember that Clay Shirky post?).

While I’m glad she brought it up, it’s worth noting that she may be asking the wrong question. There are successful “new” news orgs founded by women and run by them. While Melissa Bell may have, according to Bell’s post, worked in the background at Wonkblog, she seems to have a presence over at Vox — if only because she gets screen time in the launch video. What about Sarah Lacy or Kara Swisher? Vox just poached Eleanor Barkhorn.

Women are certainly a minority in the media industry. Especially women of color. And, for that matter, men of color. Maybe the real problem is the “clubhouse mentality” and not who’s in the clubhouse. Hiring people who not only look like you, but think like you, too. Most of the new, venture funded, journalism start-ups are focused on investigative journalism or at least data driven journalism. How do you ensure that you’re hiring towards a diverse newsroom when your venture is so focused — on sports data, on investigating NSA policies, on geeking out over healthcare policy? You need diversity of thought as much as race and gender. Even Emily Bell thinks the issue needs more exploring.

Do you feel the new media landscape represents you? That it’s run by geeky white dudes? What gives? Let us know @10,000Words or in the comments.