Diversity -- or lack thereof -- in journalism startups, cont.

Coverage Type: 

[Commentary] Someone is wrong on the Internet, and I wonder if it might be me. I recently wrote a piece for the Guardian about what I saw as a disappointing trend: high-profile journalism startups reflecting the structures of old media. Namely, they’re led by white men.

Many women cheered both publicly and privately, saying, “Everybody wants to say it, nobody quite dares.” Others did not, saying that I was both overlooking and diminishing the roles of women in new journalism startups by writing them out of the script. The most thought provoking responses came from Melissa Bell, who elegantly pointed out that if my coverage overlooked her, then it added to the problem of visibility in the media. This is true. Had I been unfair in my assessment?

However, the numbers for all startups, where journalism is not broken out, are indisputable. Venture capital money mostly goes from men to other men. Estimates of what proportion of funding, exactly, goes to women-owned startups vary but never get above 15 percent, and are often as low as 7 percent.

The grander point that I tried to make, and will continue to hammer away at, is that journalism is important. It shapes information and the way people engage with vital issues. But doing it differently is not just words on page, or line graphs, listicles, and math. Doing it differently means considering the workforce, the outward face of the organization, and measuring it carefully. One of the most common refrains I heard was, “Are we still having this debate?” Yes, I’m afraid so.

Diversity -- or lack thereof -- in journalism startups, cont.