It’s hard to believe that my last first week of college has come and gone. Now I’m that much closer to graduating and finding my first legitimate job. That job hopefully will be as a journalist. I always cringe when someone asks me what my major is and what I plan to do with it after graduation. My confidence level is pretty high but I still have a twinge of doubt regarding my future, especially with the economy being down and jobs decreasing.
These days, journalists are required to have a wide range of skill sets. With the advances in technology, journalists have to be able to write, edit, blog, tweet, use a camera and audio devices and basically have multi-media skill sets. I have a solid grasp on most of these but I know there are so many who are better than I am. I’ve asked two of my good friends who are also studying journalism to weigh in on their opinions of being a female entering into the traditional “man’s world.”
Here is senior International Studies and Journalism double-major Jenni Wiener’s opinion:
Not only is there pressure to be a “one man band,” but female journalists tend to have problems keeping jobs, especially as they settle down with a family. News is a 24/7 business. It never ends. Therefore, people who work in the news have to be dedicated to their jobs and willing to work many long hours. This is a hard task to fulfill as a parent. Also, women in broadcasting, mainly reporters or anchors on television, have a tough responsibility to maintain the status of their bodies. Viewers are sensitive to having pregnant or disabled women reporting on TV. For example, a reporter at a local news station broke her arm and continued to report. Viewers called in to the station complaining that the woman should not have to work when she has a physical disability. For the rest of the time that woman wore a cast, she had to hide it under clothes so the viewers wouldn’t get upset. This same principle also goes for pregnant women. Body image is a huge part of television, which can cause the people in front of the camera to make unhealthy decisions in order to maintain a desired body image.
Junior Political Science and Journalism double-major Lauren Ceronie says:
Women also face challenges getting different jobs in a newsroom. I was able to sit in on an editorial meeting at a major national newspaper and I noticed something odd about the newsroom. About 20 editors were clustered around a conference table discussing which stories were going to be in the next day’s paper. As the editors went around the table I noticed that all but two of the editors were men. The editor-in-chief and the managing editor were both men. The only two women in the room were editors of stereotypically “girly” sections- life and style. Women seem to have trouble becoming editors of world news or technology or financial sections of the paper. This may be part of the reason for the disparity in the ratio of men to women in the newsroom. I learned in a critique of media class that college journalism programs are overflowing with women. Of journalists in the first five years of their career, women make up the majority. However, the number of female journalists past the first five years of their career declines dramatically. This could be because women have trouble being promoted, breaking the glass ceiling and choose to leave journalism and go to another profession.
Taking both of my friends’ opinions into account, I’m reminded of one of my favorite films, Teacher’s Pet. The 1958 movie stars Doris Day and my all-time favorite actor, Clark Gable. Gable plays a seasoned journalist named James Gannon who believes that the best reporters are the ones with experience, not a degree in the field. Day plays Erica Stone, a night school professor who teaches journalism. The two butt heads, argue, and vex the mess out of each other. I love this film because it shows the importance of both experience and education. Day’s character juxtaposes Gable in a way that pushes the film’s audience to recognize a change in gender relations. Erica Stone is a successful professor and the daughter of a legendary journalist. But she is respected for the job she has not the reputation of her father. She is a woman working during a period of time when men had all the power.
We have made significant steps toward gender equality, but more is needed to happen. Female journalists may be few and far between after TEN years in the business but I’m convinced that this will change in the next few years because women have so much to offer. The Internet has created so many new opportunities for WOMEN to make their voices resonate. I’m so excited to see how my skills and perseverance will shape the next wave of journalists. Here’s to graduating in May!