As the newspaper world scrambles to figure out why New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson was forced out this week, her ouster has drawn attention to another mystery: Why are there so few women running America's largest newspapers?
With Abramson's departure, only two of the top 25 circulation daily papers in the U.S. -- as listed by the Alliance for Audited Media -- have women as their top editors. Newsday's Debbie Henley and the Houston Chronicle's Nancy Barnes are the exception rather than the rule.
And with Abramson gone, replaced by Dean Baquet -- the paper's first African-American executive editor -- none of the top 10 daily papers have a woman at the helm. That's unusual since at least half of those papers have seen female newsroom leadership in recent decades.
Along with the Times, the New York Daily News, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today were led by women during the past 15 years.
Among the remaining top 25 daily papers, at least eight had women as the top newsroom bosses during the same time span. Today, only two, Barnes and Henley.
"There was this time where there were quite a few of us. It was a nice list," said Ann Marie Lipinski, who was editor of the Chicago Tribune for seven years before resigning in 2007 and being replaced by a man, Gerould Kern. "One by one, all for varying reasons, most of that group just dissipated. I can't tell you what all of that means, each story is very different. The sum of it is a fairly depressing lack of female leadership in major newsrooms."
Susan Goldberg, a former top editor at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and the San Jose Mercury News, said, "it's terrible that half of the jobs aren't filled by women. There certainly are tons of qualified women who are ready and able to lead newsrooms, whether those are print or online newsrooms."
Goldberg, who recently became the first female editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine, said things were on the rise for women editors, but the trend has reversed. "We made progress for a while, then it seemed to plateau," she said. "Then the [financial] upheaval in the industry came and that may be part of it. There have not been the line of women to replace the ones who left. I'm sorry to see that there hasn't been a deeper bench of women who can step into these roles when they are vacated."
Melanie Sill, former editor of The Sacramento (CA.) Bee and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., called the trend "definitely something to be concerned about."
"It is something that I have wondered about," added Sill, now executive editor of Southern California Public Radio. "It is part of a larger reverse trend in diversity in news in general. We've lost some ground in terms of ethnic and gender diversity."
Fox News chose not to air live coverage of press events immediately following the Supreme Court's consideration of a historic marriage equality case, while MSNBC and CNN both covered the event live.
The Supreme Court was hearing arguments for and against California's Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage. The landmark case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, examines whether Prop 8 "unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and lesbians." After oral arguments wrapped up, a press conference took place on the steps of the Supreme Court during which attorneys and plaintiffs in the case spoke to the media.
Here's what Fox News aired instead of the live press conference (11:45 AM):
During the same minutes, MSNBC and CNN aired the following:
CNN (11:45 AM)
MSNBC (11:42 AM)
Chick-fil-A is now confirming in no uncertain terms that the company maintains an anti-LGBT philosophy -- a stance supported in practical terms by the company's history of donations to anti-gay groups.
Although his company's policies seemed to indicate otherwise, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy previously claimed that the company is not anti-gay -- "not anti-anybody." Cathy, who on Monday foreshadowed his public comments in a blog post titled "Thought For The Week: Become A Part Of The Story," cleared up any confusion by denouncing marriage equality and its advocates in interviews published in Baptist Press and on The Ken Coleman Show over the past two days. From OnTopMag.com (emphasis added):
Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy has described gay marriage supporters as "arrogant" for going against God on marriage.
In an interview on the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy defended his company's support of groups opposed to marriage equality.
"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
Richard Spencer, executive director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), was beginning his opening remarks as I settled uneasily into my seat in the back row of a small, brightly lit banquet room. From a podium at the front of the room, the brown-haired young man pointed to a projection of a color-shaded world map that he claimed depicted regional variations in the average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of indigenous populations.
According to the map, East Asian and European peoples possess the highest IQs while African and Australian indigenous populations possess the lowest. He then switched to a NASA photograph of the world at night, depicting city lights around the globe visible from space. He compared the brightest-lit areas (China, Europe, North America) to the previous map, proclaiming that the brightest localities were also those with the highest IQ.
"You can see, Africa is literally the Dark Continent."
It was on that note that NPI's national conference, titled Towards a New Nationalism: Immigration and the Future of Western Nations, began. This was the first such event for the fledgling white nationalist organization NPI, a think tank of sorts dedicated to "promot[ing] the American majority's unique historical, cultural, and biological inheritance - and advances policies that, without prejudicing the legitimate rights of others, fearlessly defends our rights...our heritage." Dedicated, in other words, to advancing the interests of the white race.
The event was a first for me as well. I would be, for the first time, experiencing a gathering of white supremacists from such an intimate perspective. Watching, learning, interacting -- I would attempt to sort out what they believe and why and explore the relationship between the white nationalist movement and the more mainstream political spectrum. As a clean-cut white male, my presence wasn't suspicious and the other attendees assumed I shared their views. For my part, I let them assume, and I did my best to blend in.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at 9 a.m., but a part of me anticipated swarms of protestors, a strong police presence clashing with private security forces and a raucous racist crowd inside the hall, cheering on some podium-smacking orator bloviating about the evils of the Jewish race and the need to oppress the black community.
Instead, I was greeted jovially upon arrival to a scene that more closely resembled a modest cocktail party, with no security and a few people standing around sipping coffee and discussing literature. I picked up my name tag and glanced at the design -- a photograph of a white family smiling over a white background adjacent to the well-known political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin depicting a severed serpent and the phrase "JOIN, or DIE."
Reading over the conference program, I caught a glimpse of what I was in for from the titles of the speeches to come. They ranged from the blandly predictable - "Is Arizona the Answer?", "Prospects for a Nationalist Right in America"; to the ominously enigmatic - "Apocalypse Now," "Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration," "The Masters of the Universe"; to the truly chill-inducing -- "The Idea and Ideal of the Ethno-State."