Every reporter reckons with the fact that chasing a certain story can make them a walking target and eventually put them in danger. For women journalists, this sort of a natural work-related risk is accompanied by enormous challenges and pressures strictly related to their gender.
From September 18, the day Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, through September 29, weekday cable news hosted overwhelmingly white and primarily male guests to discuss her legacy and President Donald Trump’s September 26 nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 76% of the guests on weekday cable news were white and 62% were men.
At the very outset of what would become an award-winning career as a TV journalist, Belva Davis confronted violent racism at the 1964 Republican National Convention, at which conservative Arizona senator Barry Goldwater was nominated for the presidency. Her memory of that daunting experience reminds us that we’ve been through change followed by backlash before.
“Day one of the convention had been tense but orderly. … Day two was starting to spin out of control.”
Naya Rivera’s tragic passing earlier this year has prompted many to look back on her legacy on “Glee.” In the years since its departure from the airwaves, Rivera’s portrayal of Santana Lopez is still making an impact in the lives of lesbian and bi women. As one of the few lesbian TV characters to ultimately have a happy ending, her story was ground-breaking and impactful from start to finish.
At 21, Alice Gram Robinson was arrested while protesting for women’s suffrage in front of the White House, held at the Occoquan Workhouse where she took part in a hunger strike—and two years later, helped found the Women’s National Press Club before launching a six-decade Washington journalism career.
An excerpt from “Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different” (August 2020), by Linda Selin Davis:
“When each tomboy heyday ended, childhood became gendered as never before.”
Produced by Al Jazeera Contrast, and created by Zahra Rasool, Sarah Springer and VR 360 writer and director Naima Ramos-Chapman, “Still Here” meditates on the prison industrial complex, urban gentrification and the experience of formerly incarcerated women.
Joy Reid’s upcoming MSNBC primetime show, ‘The ReidOut,’ will make her the first black female primetime TV anchor. MSNBC made the historic announcement of Reid’s promotion four months after the departure of longtime anchor Chris Matthews, who previously held the time slot Reid is set to fill. Matthews, who had hosted his show “Hardball” for 20 years on the network, resigned in March after guests of his show came forward, accusing the anchor of sexual harassment.
Award-winning journalist Maria Ressa was found guilty of “cyber libel” for investigating President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has continuously suppressed press freedom and has been responsible for countless human right violations. Journalism is under major fire in the Philippines, and Ressa has been persecuted for denouncing an administration that egregiously disregards basic human rights.
Ressa said: “I’m being set up as an example so that others will stop asking tough questions, and I think that puts responsibility on me to continue asking tough questions.”
The entertainment industry needs to use its power and unique position to radically change the oppressive, systemic and white supremacist culture that persists in Hollywood.