Sex Discrimination In The Newsroom

Image courtesy to Google Images

Image courtesy to Google Images

I’ve been recently working on a piece for a war and terrorism class pertaining to women reporters and overseas affairs, and I thought MSP would be a good outlet to share some of the info and get your reaction.

As the news has well informed us, back on February 11th, CBS news correspondent Lara Logan was attacked at Tahrir Square in Egypt by an outraged mob of Egyptians.

We later learned that Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten in the midst of the attack, being rescued soon after by a group of women as well as (an estimated) 20 Egyptian soldiers.

Once word broke of the attack, stories were popping up left and right about her assault, yet not all were informative.

Many blogs* were posting stories* spewing the typical (negative) rape responses, such as “she was asking for it,” or “she should have known better and not put herself in that position.”

*Yet it wasn’t just personal forums such as blogs that were spreading the post-rape hate; readers had even began writing similar content on popular online news articles.

According to an article on the LA Times website, organizations (such as the New York Times and NPR) have removed such comments (which were slandering Logan) due to the obscenity of the text.

Since the attack on Logan has went viral, other female reporters began stepping up stating that they too have faced sexual harassment or incidents similar to this – yet many (female) reporters did not voice the issues to editors in fear of losing out on their opportunity to report.

In my war and terrorism class – we focused on this issue for quite some time and the class was, surprisingly, somewhat divided on where they stand with this idea revolving around a bias against women reporters.

A handful of students agreed with some of the comments, claiming that it was time for her (Logan) to focus on her family rather than her career, which places her in dangerous situations.

Others blamed it on “cultural differences,” arguing that Western women come off as more provocative and many countries don’t agree with the freedom Western females exercise. Therefore, they used Logan as an outlet to express their rage.

One student even said there was talk that network executives may pull female reporters from the Middle East for the time being–just to ensure their safety.

Yet in my opinion (being a female journalist), I think this is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, it is true that reporters put themselves in danger when reporting on controversial issues, but this is no reason to keep women reporters off the story. As journalists, these individuals understand and accept the circumstances associated with such news coverage. I don’t believe that a reporter’s sex, looks, hair color, etc. should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to assign them to the job.

Sex discrimination has no place in journalism or in any other field for that matter; and women (as well as men) should not feel intimidated to report being raped (or any other harassment issue) in fear or being looked at as ill-equipped to get the job done.

Any thoughts?

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About Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller is an Assistant Editor for MensHealth.com. Haller received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. When she's not writing for MSP/MH, you can find her running, enjoying a cup of coffee, or searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.

  • Kathryn Rebecca42

    I absolutely agree. Regardless of where reporters are sent, there should be present the basic right of humanity to be free from harm. By pulling female reporters from dangerous places, networks are sending such a negative message to the world now, as well as future generations: women are weak, and must be protected. These women know the potential risks of their profession, and they choose to do their jobs anyway. They should be given the opportunity to do those jobs, like anyone else in any other type of setting.

  • http://profiles.google.com/murphy.daniel.b Dan Murphy

    But we have to acknowledge here the cultural differences between the moral schemata of the West and the Middle East. Through no fault of their own, women reporters such as Logan, above, are gambling against higher odds and for higher stakes than their male coworkers by taking jobs on the street in the Arab world. Women are not weak if they calculate this risk and decide not to gamble!