Monday, March 22, 2010

40 Years Later, Is It Better for Women in Journalism?

It's always useful to look back and measure progress -- not measure our hopes and dreams, but look at what actually happened. Women who currently report and write for Newsweek have reflected on the history of women who worked there 40 years ago, with ambitions blunted and talent thwarted, who decided they weren't going to take it anymore. In a lengthy article in the March 29 issue, today's Newsweek women admit that, in terms of progress, "the victory dance feels premature." Read the entire piece at

And the latest issue of Media Report to Women carries a nearly parallel piece about a female broadcaster, Alison Owings ("Evolution of a Broadcast Feminist" by Sarah Guthrie). In the 1960s, Owings worked for the ABC Washington bureau and later the NBC owned and operated station in Washington before moving to New York and CBS. The Newsweek women of that era were told "women can't write," and so was Owings. But that didn't stop her from breaking into the reporting ranks and becoming an activist who helped pave the way for younger women to enter TV news in markets large and small. Contact me at to order a copy of the issue containing this marvelous profile.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Even With Bigelow's Directing Oscar, Hollywood Still A Boys' Town

Kathryn Bigelow's Best Director win at the Academy Awards March 8 was a welcome event. With the golden statuette in her hand, Bigelow became the first woman to win the award for best direction, with her work on "The Hurt Locker."

But female directors, and most female filmmakers, remain in short supply in Hollywood. According to a recent report, in 2009, women constituted just 16% of all directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Women were only 7% of directors in 2009, a figure dead even with the percentage of women directing films in 1987!

Martha Lauzen of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University tracks these figures annually, and each year it is dispiriting to see how little movement there is in women's advancement in the film industry. We need to patronize and praise films that involve women as storytellers and stars, from the indies all the way to the blockbusters, if we want to see more Bigelows walking to the stage to claim recognition for movies -- such as the powerful "Hurt Locker" -- that affect all of us.