Post neglects coverage of Women's History Month.Sociologist Gaye Tuchman has pointed out that to be in the news is to matter. It leads to discussion, analysis and sometimes changes in politics and society. When the media do not cover an issue or group, the message is that discussion, analysis and potential for change will not occur.
Media researchers annually report that newspapers overlook news about women and women as sources. With that largely documented, I hoped that for at least one month--March--women and their role in history would be covered in newspapers.
My hopes were high as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the only major city-wide newspaper in St. Louis, Missouri. Although written to serve Greater St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch is one of the largest newspapers in the region, and is available and read as far west as Springfield, Missouri. had done such a strong job of addressing February as Black History Month. (The fact that the history of these two groups is confined to two months is in itself problematic, but that is not my point here.)
After all, there is a distinct parallel between the struggle for civil rights and the struggle for women's rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.
The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and in this country. Covered correctly, the history month concept would include not just great names but the victories won and the battles still being fought.
Despite my hopes, the Post largely overlooked Women's History Month Women's History Month is an annual declared month in the United States that highlights contributions of women to events in history. March is declared Women's History Month.
The annual event traces its beginnings to the first International Women's Day in 1911. . In March the regular profiles and the insightful issue stories that were featured in February for Black History Month did not continue and there were only a few calendar items.
An easy measure can be found in an advanced search for stories relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc the historical emphasis of each month. A search of the Post's own archives using the term "women's history ''This article is about the history of women. For information on the field of historical study, see Gender history.
Women's history is the history of female human beings. Rights and equality
Women's rights refers to the social and human rights of women. " (appearing anywhere) comes back with six matches in the month of March. A search of its own archives using the term "black history" (appearing anywhere) comes back with 73 matches in month of February.
A search of the Post using the academic search engine Lexis-Nexis for the respective months found 49 matches for "black history" in February and one match for "women's history" in March.
It would be easy to simply report that Black History Month mattered significantly more to journalists at the Post--the numbers speak for themselves. As has long been shown, reporters and editors have wide latitude in determining what goes in the paper and where it is placed. It is a matter of determining what is news and, by default, what is not newsworthy.
My criticism is meant to spawn solutions. Let's consider that the Post journalists are following the typical model of news values News values determine how much prominence a news story is given by a media outlet. In Western practice such decisions are made informally by editors on the basis of their experience and intuition, and analysis shows that several factors are consistently applied across a range of taught in journalism schools across the country: conflict, human interest, impact, proximity, prominence and timeliness. Coverage of women's history easily could have been included based on the events and issues of March 2006.
In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , by simply making a connection to current events and Women's History Month, readers would gain a better understanding by seeing the context of the issue. And this could be done by not falling back on the media's stereotypical roles of women as victims, wives or mothers.
For an example of what shouldn't be done, note the March 30 story "Mom has her first business under her belt"--there had to a better angle to the business story than the woman's familial position.
There were some stories that seemed especially well connected to the month that could have added a women's history sidebar or angle. Below are a few examples of where the Post could have used Women's History Month to improve coverage.
Conflict: Late in the month, the Post ran an Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. story that begs a historical component: "Senator Apologizes for Sexually Suggestive Remarks." The headline is a bit misleading as the senator was basically forced to make amends and even in his apology there is little remorse over the statement to his younger, female, first-year colleague.
Specifically, he questioned her natural hair color, said that the 46-year-old woman looked 16 or 17 and asked if she would go "on a township road with me later on tonight."
The political climate that is often hostile to and excludes women (there are 14 women in Illinois' 59-member senate) has long historical roots that would have provided context. The same concept could have been applied to the March 29 business story, "The advance of women on corporate boards is glacial."
Human interest: All of those little events that appeared as calendar items in the Post could have been covered as feature stories and could have addressed women's history.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the March 8 events listing titled "Meramec celebrates Women's History Month," among numerous events at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, there was a free presentation of Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues;" a roundtable discussion about International Women's Day International Women's Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. featuring female educators from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. ; and a lecture on "First, Second and Third Wave Feminism" that included the fight for suffrage, the women's liberation movement Women’s Liberation Movement
appellation of modern day women’s rights advocacy. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 396]
See : Feminism and the latest incarnations of women's activism.
All of these could have turned into great features. And this is just from one campus. There were numerous activities at each of the area universities that could have been covered.
Impact: Perhaps no specific issue impacts women more than that of personal safety in our society. Women are continually victims of sexual crimes. In America, a woman is raped every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The FBI estimates that only 37 percent of all rapes are reported to the police. The U.S. Justice Depart, ment statistics are even lower, with only 26 percent of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.
The Post's March 23 story about the mayor's task force on the police department's handling of sex crimes could have been accompanied by a sidebar on the historical problem of not only sex crimes but how law enforcement has addressed the victims.
Proximity: During the month of March, it was announced by NYSE NYSE
See: New York Stock Exchange Executive Vice President Grace Vogel that new rules were being examined to ban entertainment that is considered inappropriate or excessive, pointing to strip clubs specifi cally. Final versions of the rules will soon be before the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Brokerage firms that don't enact or enforce these policies could face actions ranging from censure to expulsion. Many women in the field have complained that they were either excluded from business-related discussions by not attending events at strip clubs or went and felt uncomfortable. These are the kinds of barriers that have historically prevented women from promotions. This story had an easy local hook.
Recently, the notorious New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. strip club Scores settled a lawsuit over a contested $241,000 bill racked up by Robert McCormick There have been a number of people named Robert McCormick:
Prominence: One of the most important women in the second wave of the women s liberation movement A liberation movement is a group organizing a rebellion against a colonial power (Anti-imperialism) or seeking separation from a state for parts of the population that feel suppressed by the majority. , Betty Friedan Noun 1. Betty Friedan - United States feminist who founded a national organization for women (born in 1921)
Betty Naomi Friedan, Betty Naomi Goldstein Friedan, Friedan , died recently. While there were a few editorials, for as prominent as she was, it would be expected that more would have been written. Friedan, author of the "Feminine Mystique" and founding member of the National Organization for Women, which spawned thousands of women to question their roles in society, would have been a natural to cover in March.
After all, compare coverage of Friedan's death to that of Coretta Scott King Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was the wife of the assassinated civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and a noted civil rights leader, author, singer, and founder and former president of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. (who too often was defined by her role as a widow rather than a civil rights pioneer in her own right) and you'll find a striking difference. For additional news value, Friedan had local ties as a native of Peoria. The lack of coverage is symbolic of how the media value women.
Timeliness: On March 25, the Post included a story on a court ruling about female firefighters History
Historically, firefighting has been regarded as primarily a male activity. Nonetheless, there have been numerous women who actively fought fire alongside their male counterparts. : "On Friday, they won a landmark decision from a federal appeals court in St. Louis that says fire departments must provide female members with appropriate physical facilities and gear."
According to the plaintiffs, Anne Wedow and Kathleen Kline, who were among the first three women to join the Kansas City Fire Department in 1977, were met with such hostility that one male cadet said, "If you want to be a guy so bad, we'll all chip in and you can get surgery."
According to Jennifer K. Brown, vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum, it was the first federal appellate level ruling to define inadequate equipment and facilities as unlawful sex discrimination.
Women continue to be the minority in fire and police departments, but journalists need to explain the progress that has been made and the battles that still need to be fought. Rather than celebrating a few small barriers that have been broken, reporters should ask why more isn't being done to reach equality in these male-dominated fields.
The above examples are only a few of the many examples where a historical reference would have provided context to stories that already existed. It's not just about the tokenism to·ken·ism
1. The policy of making only a perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration.
2. of addressing a month--it's about including women and thus improving journalism.
The Post clearly ignored March as Women's History Month. How about improving the coverage of women for the rest of 2006?
Kimberly Wilmot Voss is an assistant professor in the department of mass communications at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.