WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

WIMN at JAWS - Journalism & Women Symposium

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

September 29th, 2007

Quick note — there’s a powerful set of women in journalism gathered in Door County, Wisconsin this weekend for the annual Journalism & Women SYmposium (JAWS) conference. Last night, I led one of twelve discussion groups about what bothers female journalists about representations of women in news media — and what we as journalists can do to improve these content problems both in our individual reporting/editing/producing, and what we can do to affect institutional change.

Our group focused on the sourcing problem (it turned out numerous others did, too) — the underepresentation and marginalization of women and people of color as sources, experts, pundits, commetators and the like — and the way this flattens out stories, makes each story seem to similar to every previous story, and makes it harder for readers and viewers to see themselves reflected in our coverage… which of course loses audiences. We talked about many of the causes of the underrepresentation, and many individual as well as institutional factors that play in… as well as individual and institutional solutions we could employ to attempt to improve the situation.

We also talked about how JAWS members and JAWS colleagues could make better use of Women In Media & News’s POWER (Perspectives Of Women Expand Reporting) Sources Project — the first project of its kind, founded in 2001, the POWER Sources Project is anational network of ethnically, geographically and professionally diverse women experts who are ready to serve as sources for journalists. We’ve helped print, broadcast and online journalists connect with articulate, informative, media savvy, qualified sources on hundreds of topics. These are not people journalists can call only when looking for “women sources” — they’re go-to resources for journalists looking for great sources, period.

Anyway, there’s much more to say about this session, but it’s 8am and I’m already missing breakfast. I will likely be posting guest posts from JAWS members throughout the day or the following week. JAWS members are learning to liveblog - some for the first time - so their posts will most likely happen at http://jaws07.blogspot.com/ — check it out. But, we will likely bring you JAWS’ members reflections on the content and representation discussion, as we feel this is an important set of reflections from women in the trenches, and it’s crucial that the larger public understands that women (and especially women of color) working in journalism at every level — from interns and new beat reporters to high-level execs, news managers and news division heads share some of the same frustrations WIMN’s Voices readers do… the structural critique we have of media content linked to media consolidation is real, and very relevant to the ability of journalists being able to do their jobs most effetively, inclusively and to most authenticaly cover our communities.

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