It is said that history is written by the victors. And for better or worse (more often than not, worse), it is. But I would argue that history is also written by the writers! Those who, with everything from a pen to a piano, capture history and immortalize it for the world. In songs, in books and, of course, in newspapers.
This means journalists and others who bring the news to the public, from photographers to designers to editors and owners, have an outsized responsibility to ensure the history they capture is portrayed accurately. Still, omissions happen. Corrections are made, and the media moves on. But some omissions have a much greater impact than others. And it is those omissions that must be corrected by a total paradigm shift in news media.
History-making and history-changing women is one area in which newspapers have made omissions without so much as a correction to such a degree that they fail to accurately portray the history they endeavor to capture. If this failure were not a long-standing and systemic issue, we would not need modern movies like Hidden Figures and Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story to finally teach us about the impact of these incredibly important women, decades after they started making contributions that literally changed the course of human history.
To write stories about women—to capture history inclusive of women’s true value, vitalness and voice—we need to do the work to have more women in media ownership and management. And for this work to really effect change, it must be inclusive of our transgender sisters.
Unfortunately, the Nieman Journalism Lab (an arm of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University) declared, “The state of women in U.S. media in 2019: Still f’ing abysmal.”
The “abysmal” abyss between women and media ownership and management is just one of the reasons I am so proud that The Paper. is not only co-owned by a woman (me) but edited and associate-published by another (Tierna Unruh-Enos). At The Paper. we are dedicated to doing the work. But the work doesn’t end there with me, Tierna and our kick-ass female journalists. This is just the start of it.
As women and allies of women, we have to stand up to gender inequity when and where we see it. And that includes in this publication. If you feel that we have stumbled or fallen in our work around this, I want to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). And to the whole of the news media community, I call on you to join The Paper. in this dedication to upholding our immutable responsibility to history. So no more snoozing. This alarm clock has been ringing for centuries. It’s time to wake up and go to work.