Beyond the Byline: Facing Barriers as a Female Journalist

Despite an overwhelming number of women graduating with degrees in Journalism and Mass Communications, the field of journalism still lacks female voices. Though many fields have increased the amount of women they hire, journalism appears to be flatlining.  

In 2018, women made up only 41 percent of newsrooms employees, proving that the field of journalism is still largely ruled by men. Men hold higher level positions, break more stories, and get more credit for the work that they do.

When women work with male reporters, their work is often overlooked. In a recent example, a New York Times reporter credited two male journalists from BuzzFeed with breaking a Trump-Russia article. Despite putting in the same amount of work as her male counterparts and having her name on the byline, Emma Loop didn’t receive the same credit for breaking the story.

Similarly, Ronan Farrow is known for being a leading reporter when it comes to news on the #MeToo movement. Even though Jane Mayer has been reporting alongside him, she hasn’t gotten the same credit. The New Yorker published multiple articles on Kavanaugh’s accusers; in both, the articles about Deborah Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford (before her name was public), show Mayer’s name on the byline. Like Loop, Mayer didn’t receive the credit that she deserved for her work.

These aren’t isolated incidents, and this issue definitely isn’t limited to the field of journalism. The New York Times published an article that suggests women and men get fairly equal credit on the work they publish individually, but when they co-author work, the credit given to women greatly diminishes. Men get the same amount of credit for the work they do regardless of it being solo-work or group-work.

In addition to the lack of credit female journalists receive, they also experience harassment from men they work with, men they report on, and their readers.

Vox published an article compiling accounts from women of their experiences with sexual harassment in the industry. The article brings light to what’s often lost in the headlines: “the stories of how sexual misconduct and harassment hinder women from flourishing professionally, and prevent them from becoming prominent voices in their own right.”

The Guardian published a series of articles exposing the “insults and rape threats” that their female writers receive in the comment section of their articles. Another article makes the claim that “articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about.”

President Trump has also made many derogatory and inappropriate comments directed at female journalists, beginning with Megyn Kelly. After Kelly questioned him during a debate, Trump suggested that she was aggressive in her questioning because of female mood swings.

In November, Trump also attacked three African-American female journalists– Abby Phillip, April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor– over a span of two days. He used demeaning language to avoid their questions, simply because he didn’t want to answer them. He made personal attacks at them calling them “stupid,” “a loser,” and “racist.”

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Anna Helen Peterson wrote of the problems that this hostile environment creates and the stories that aren’t written because of it. She wrote: “Abuse can also manifest itself in invisible ways: In the stories that have gone untold or unexplored by women because the risks of telling them, psychologically or physically, require too damn much.”

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