Huffington Post Investigation Exposes Rampant Sexism At The Washington Post

Huffington Post Investigation Exposes Rampant Sexism At The Washington Post

The fury of twitter blue checkmarks over the Washington Post’s decision to suspend female reporter Felicia Sonmez has manifested in a #MeToo-style hit piece directed at the Washington Post.

In a laughable piece by reporter Emily Peck, the Huffington Post relies on anonymously sourced quotes and evidence-free assertions from ‘staffers and contractors’ bashing the paper for unspecified indiscretions like valuing ‘male characteristics’ over ‘female characteristics’, without ever describing or explaining what they mean.

The piece begins by describing two recent scenarios where reporters received ‘death threats’. The backlash to Sonmez’s tasteless tweet about a nearly two-decade-old retracted rape allegation against Kobe Bryant in the wake of his untimely and extremely brutal passing, and an incident involving national security reporter Shane Harris.

Sonmez was suspended, and offered no protection. Harris received protection within 72 hours.

Now, were either of these reporters truly in danger? Probably not.

Both male and female journalists receive death threats and abuse constantly online, and there are zero reported incidents of reporters being murdered in the US by angry twitter followers. But from this one incident, Huffpo extrapolates an entire culture of misogyny, a culture that, according to many in the WaPo newsroom, doesn’t actually exist.

HuffPo cited data from the WaPo union suggesting that the pay gap between men and women at the Post has narrowed in recent years, though, thanks to a larger number of men in senior positions, the median pay for men is still skewed slightly higher than the median pay for women. But rather than explain what these numbers actually mean, HuffPo simply points to the discrepancy and asserts that it’s evidence of a ‘gender pay gap’ attributable solely to latent sexism.

The Washington Post doesn’t value women and men in the same way, these people said. This appears literally true when it comes to pay: Women in the newsroom are paid less than men, according to a report published last year by the union that represents employees. (The paper disputed the findings at the time.) One former Post contractor told HuffPost she was let go after asking for a raise.

The disparity courses through the culture and is borne out in the paper’s coverage, where stories of sexual harassment have sometimes been held to a higher standard than other coverage, some staffers said.

Crucially, the gender imbalance is clear in the masthead. Three of the four top editors at the Post are men. Only four of 17 department heads are women.

“The place is run by men and it creates a particular atmosphere and assigns a higher value to certain male characteristics,” said one female reporter. “I’ve been a victim of it in a broad way, as most women in the newsroom have.”

Is the paper really “run by men”? Not really. HuffPo dings WaPo for only having four women among 17 section heads without mentioning that this is much higher than the average for the industry, and most industries. Many of the top editors have female deputies – and, critically, more than half of WaPos newsroom consists of female reporters.

It’s not that The Washington Post doesn’t have high-profile women, staffers emphasized to HuffPost. There are star female reporters at the paper. Indeed, a majority of the newsroom staff — approximately 800 employees — is female, just like the U.S. workforce generally.

That’s actually not true. According to the Department of Labor, only 47% of the US workforce is comprised of women. Overall participation rates by gender are higher for men than for women. We suspect HuffPo got the labor force confused with the American academic landscape: As the Atlantic boldly declared a few years ago, “men are the new minority on college campuses”.

WaPo’s newsroom is actually disproportionately made up of women. If we were to adjust that for average participation rates per gender, it would suggest that management has actually discriminated against men in order to satisfy gender-warrior critics and present more solid optics.

Finally, HuffPo’s final example of misogyny involves a contractor who was allegedly ‘fired for asking for a raise’. But based solely off HuffPo’s account of the incident, it appears more likely that her position wasn’t renewed because of cutbacks at her bureau, and her strongly expressed dissatisfaction with her current position. A junior contract employee complaining to their boss’s boss about compensation isn’t really appropriate, and likely came across as ungrateful. We suspect her demeanor and conduct had something to do with her contract not being renewed – and that’s totally appropriate.

The situation can be worse for female contract reporters, who aren’t on staff yet but often put in full-time hours, particularly in foreign bureaus.

One former contractor, a woman assigned to an outpost overseas, told HuffPost that she had been fired after asking for a pay increase.

She first broached the subject in July at a breakfast meeting with her boss’s boss, foreign editor Doug Jehl, the woman told HuffPost, declining to be named for fear of career reprisals. She had just recently thrown her hat in the ring for a promotion to a staff position.

As a contractor, relative to her male counterparts, she was underpaid, she told Jehl, citing a conversation with the Post’s union. The subject set him off.

“It was like a red flag to a bull. He got angry. He raised his voice,” she said. He told her she’d have to leave the paper if she brought up the issue again, she recalled him saying.

The next morning, sitting at a Starbucks, Jehl said her contract would not be renewed after it expired at the end of the year. “‘You want more money and job security and we can’t give that to you,’” she recalled him saying.

She decided to take up matters with leadership a few months later in September, writing an email to Martin Baron, the executive editor of the paper. HuffPost reviewed the exchange. She described how much she liked working for the Post and how disappointed she was in the way her situation was handled.

Instead of accepting this, the contract reporter once again went around her boss’s boss’s head to complain to Marty Baron, the WaPo Executive Editor, directly. He assured her that the elimination of her position had nothing to do with her complaints, and that the paper would give her a glowing recommendation to any prospective employers. Yet this too was spun as an example of ‘sexism.’

She decided to take up matters with leadership a few months later in September, writing an email to Martin Baron, the executive editor of the paper. HuffPost reviewed the exchange. She described how much she liked working for the Post and how disappointed she was in the way her situation was handled.

“I don’t believe the way I’ve been treated reflects the values you espouse or aspire to for the Post,” she wrote.

She provided Baron with an outline of what happened:

When I asked him for a raise, he told me to look for a job in another company. Mine wasn’t a demand. It was a statement of my own perceived value to the company and as a reporter.

My sense is that you expect journalists to stand up for themselves and act professionally. I felt I did both. The next day, Doug told me my [job] application was not being considered, and my contract was not being renewed. I spoke to [managing editor] Tracy Grant about this on the same day, and she told me I could leave immediately and still get my salary through the end of the contract if I wished.

In his response, Baron said they were sticking to their decision to let her go, stating that it was part of a rethink of the entire bureau. He acknowledged the circumstances of her dismissal only slightly. “I’m disappointed to hear that you believe the changes in the bureau have not been handled properly,” he wrote. “We will have nothing other than positive things to say about you to any potential future employers.”

We look forward to watching WaPo, HuffPo, Buzzfeed, CNN and the rest of the #resistance media eat each other alive with accusations of imagined sexism.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/04/2020 – 21:25

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Author: Tyler Durden

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