At the National Press Club Panel I spoke on last week, moderator Alex Treadway of the Daily Caller posed a question to the panel of women: Do you think this new wave of journalism will open up the doors to more women and help break up the “old boys club?”
While the esteemed journalists who I shared the stage with (Donna Leinwand/USA Today, Kim Hart/The Hill, Cindy Boren/Washington Post) made their remarks, I thought it through and went with my MO: without agreeing or disagreeing, I offered a fact and an observation from experience.
First, according to the 2009 Social Media Study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, social media skews women. 79 million women actively particiate in some type of social media weekly – 12 million posted to blogs and 8 million published their own. So the potential here is great for women to increase their share of voice and influence. However the true test will be if they, if we, can transition from hobbyists bloggers to paid professionals, a real time story that is playing out right here, right now, by yours truly, and so many other young women.
Second, from what I’ve seen across industries – specifically where I have experience (health care and media), the bigger the company – the more difficult the adaptation to the digital economy has been. On the flip side, the more agile an organization is, which typically means smaller in size, the more seamless digital integration has been amongst staff, in processes and services. If it’s true that the old boys club is having trouble adapting, it might be an ironic indication that they are victims of their own success.
Finally, to tie it all together – Salon.com blogger, Sara Libby, wrote a reaction post to Michael Calderone of Politico’s article, “New Pundits: Prodigies or Pipsqeaks,” which I found to be an insightful piece about the rising class of young pundits. But Libby is right – his examples, with the exception of one, were young, white men:
What bothered me about Calderone’s ranting wasn’t so much whether any of these young men deserved to break into these famously stodgy, old-school institutions — I find all their work refreshing and valuable; Cillzza, especially, is an incredibly tenacious reporter — but that they were simply younger versions of what has long been an old boys club. Is it really that much of a surprise that pages typically populated with old, white men are now also occasionally featuring young, white men?
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