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the women’s media center

Making Women Visible and Powerful in the Media

Annual Report 2006-2007


Letter from the WMC Co-Chairs and President

Dear Friends of The Women’s Media Center, Testifying before the FCC against media consolidation. Securing an apology for sexist remarks from a network news president and his anchor. Maintaining a consistent presence on broadcast outlets in national newspapers. Leading the struggle to hold a radio personality accountable for sexist and racist remarks. Publishing hundreds of commentaries by women whose opinions otherwise would go unnoted. Airing one piece of commentary that became a centerpiece of the presidential primary, referenced and reprinted 3,000 times around the world. It’s a substantial record for a non-profit organization only three years old—and we’ve done it with the enthusiastic encouragement and funding from generous supporters like you. The Women’s Media Center (WMC), founded in 2005 to make women visible and powerful in the media, is succeeding in its mission. As we issue this first annual report, 2008 is only half over, and already it will go down in history as the year the whole nation Carol Jenkins, WMC President; Helen Zia and Pat Mitchell, WMC Board Co-Chairs.

was compelled to consider how women and people of color are portrayed in the media. With the presidential candidacies

of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the world of politics delivered a sudden shock of diversity. Mainstream media, caught off guard, were just as suddenly exposed for its lack of inclusion: sexist and racist remarks had to be apologized for, and women and people of color were drafted quickly as pundits to compensate for mostly male, mostly white staffs. What’s more, many commentators— through insensitivity or motives more suspect—sought to carve up their audiences accordingly, creating their own mythic realities, based on demographic differences: we—as readers, viewers, and voters—were fractured into multiple identities of gender, race, class, and age. Through it all, the WMC was a leader, monitoring the media for its performance, pointing out its deficiencies, providing guidance, and offering solutions. We have just begun. We thank you for your support and for working with us to make women visible and powerful in the media. We can all be proud that we are changing the conversation. With best wishes,

Helen Zia  

Pat Mitchell

Carol Jenkins


creating our own media

W

Leading by Example

omen’s voices and stories are systematically excluded in the media, effectively silencing over half the world’s population. By creating our own media, The Women’s

Media Center (WMC) increases the representation of women in media, fosters diversity in the coverage of women, and offers journalists a model to use in reporting on women in the news. During the last year, we posted more than 150 original commentaries and investigative articles focused on women, offering a new and vital outlet to journalists, experts, and news makers in the women’s and progressive movements. These commentaries examined topics that range from the media, world leadership, war, the environment, violence against women, work and economic issues, the arts, and popular culture.

The Women’s Media Center website: www.womensmediacenter.com.

We’ve been able to create a diverse cadre of writers—

The WMC’s original commentaries have influenced

some well-known, others newly discovered. WMC

and informed thousands of people. For example:

contributors are compensated at an equitable rate and their work is distributed to hundreds of reporters.

• In 2007, the WMC reported on Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, an Iraqi girl who was raped

What’s more, our website audience includes a

and then murdered, along with her family,

growing international audience, extending our reach

by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. This special WMC

beyond U.S. borders.

investigative campaign brought attention to

www.womensmediacenter.com

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Annual Report 2006-2007


June Cross, journalist in residence at the Women’s Media Center; Jennifer Buffet, NoVo Foundation President, and WMC President Carol Jenkins; WMC participants.

The Women’s Media Center blog, Majority Post, brings together our existing web content with additional media commentary in a forum that is interactive, fun, and up-to-the-minute.

Latifa Lyles at a Progressive Women’s Voices workshop.

the forgotten case and illuminated a hidden

Every morning we scan hundreds of domestic and

aspect of the war.

international media sources, making our Daily News

• Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye to All That (#2),” her take on the primary season, was published in February 2008. It was picked up more than 3,000 times, translated into six languages, and reprinted in newspapers in Nigeria, Namibia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Brief a must-read for those who want to be fully informed about women’s roles in the world. Every weekday we average 20-30 stories and have linked to over 6,000 items in the course of the last year, making us an invaluable resource for journalists and others interested in the coverage of women. The Albuquerque public radio program Women’s

As a result of these and other groundbreaking

Focus, for example, uses our news brief as a main

stories, www.womensmediacenter.com had

source for its roundup of women’s news, and we are

more than 1.36 million page views from

developing tools that will allow more news sites to

January to April in 2008.

employ the Daily News Brief in this way.

In our special political section MediaTrack

The Women’s Media Center blog, Majority Post,

2008, we publish a portfolio of reports

brings together our existing web content with

and commentaries by women. Leading

additional media commentary in a forum that

up to the historic general election, the

is interactive, engaging, and up-to-the-minute.

WMC is producing a series of Election

Majority Post is a critical destination for people

Dispatches examining the key issues

concerned

with

women’s

for candidates and voters.

the media, offering them a place to speak and to be heard.

www.womensmediacenter.com

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Annual Report 2006-2007

representation

in


changing the conversation

Training Women as Media Spokespeople

T

he Women’s Media Center (WMC) knows that simply offering new outlets for women in the media will not change the conversation. That’s why we are actively training the next generation of media

commentators and experts through our Progressive Women’s Voices program. Supported by a gener-

workshops, on-camera

ous grant from the NoVo

training, opinion writing

Foundation with addi-

techniques, and debate

tional funding from The

preparation. We help

Better World Fund (part of

them to gain access,

the United Nations Foun-

teaching them how to

dation), Progressive Wom-

pitch

en’s Voices was created to

expert

identify, train, support, and promote progressive

Progressive Women’s Voices participant Avis Jones-DeWeever on CTV.

themselves

as

commentators,

introducing

them

to

top-level decision mak-

women to become media resources and opinion lead-

ers, and pairing them with a mentor to help build

ers. Since the program launched in January 2008, we

their contacts in the national media.

received hundreds of applications—from academics, activists, public servants, and business professionals nationwide. Over the course of the program, the WMC has selected 30 women to participate in an intensive three-month training program that includes a full year of media support.

But Progressive Women’s Voices is about more than training—we’re working to infuse the media with women experts who are prepared to deliver their message and information on a sustained basis through diverse media platforms. Throughout and after the training, the WMC works individually with

We bring each of the participants to our New York

each participant to set and achieve media goals—all

City office for three weekends of spokesperson

directed toward concrete results.

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Annual Report 2006-2007


Progressive Women’s Voices participants: Deborah Siegel, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Pramila Jayapal, Achola Pala Okeyo, Melanie Campbell, and Linda Lowen.

During one of our training sessions, two of our participants, Deborah Siegel and Courtney Martin, decided to publish a national op-ed together. That weekend, they began work on a joint piece rejecting the supposed polarization of women voters during the 2008 election, and a few days later, the WMC secured publication of “Come Together? Yes

Progressive Women’s Voices participants: Janus Adams, BackPax children’s media

We Can” in the Sunday edition of The Washington Post.

Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, PunditMom

Another weekend during the training period, we received

Linda Basch, National Council for Research on Women

a call to respond to a verdict on police brutality in New York City. We worked with one of our participants, Patricia Williams, to prepare for her first national evening news interview. The interview was conducted that afternoon in our office, and by 6pm, she was educating millions on the CBS Evening News. While Progressive Women’s Voices targets traditional media outlets with great success, the WMC is also working with our participants in developing online platforms to share their knowledge and expertise. Several of our participants have become firsttime bloggers, while our existing bloggers have learned how to parlay their online platform into traditional media interviews.

Ellen Bravo, Multi-State Working Families Consortium Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Majora Carter, Sustainable South Bronx Patricia DeGennaro, New York University Margot Dorfman, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Gloria Feldt, HeartFeldt Politics Mia Herndon, Third-Wave Pramila Jayapal, One America Avis Jones-DeWeever, National Council of Negro Women Linda Lowen, About.com Latifa Lyles, National Organization for Women Courtney E. Martin, Feministing.com Sonia Ossorio, National Organization for Women, NYC Achola Pala Okeyo, Kenyan Activist

Our work in this area will change the face of media as we know it, infusing more progressive women’s voices into every conceivable media discussion.

Catherine Orenstein, The Op-Ed Project Deborah Siegel, Girl With Pen Ruth Rosen, UC Berkeley Patricia Williams, Columbia Law School Mable Yee, Engage Her (List as of June 15, 2008)

www.womensmediacenter.com

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Annual Report 2006-2007


Supporting Women

T

Working Together for Change

he Women’s Media Center (WMC) is dedicated to the promotion of women and women’s voices in the media. With a staff and board comprised of seasoned and savvy media professionals who are

experienced in media training, outreach, and advocacy, the WMC serves as a powerful ally to our partner women’s organizations.

We identify women whose per-

media treatment for women

spectives and stories need to be

of color. Today, the Women’s

shared, and connect them with

Coalition for Dignity & Di-

journalists in traditional and

versity serves as a working

new media. From The Wash-

group for more than 240

ington Post to The Huffington

organizations. It has initi-

Post, from GRIT-TV to CNN, the

ated congressional hearings

WMC has helped to ensure that

on misogynistic lyrics and

women’s voices are heard.

launched protests against

In

our

project

stereotypical

MediaTrack

and

harm-

ful portrayals of women in

2008:Women. Media. The Vote.,

the media.

the WMC convened more than 30 women’s organizations to

In June 2008 the WMC,

discuss communications and

along with our partners at

media plans for the 2008 election and to strategize on cooperative efforts. The WMC also

The WMC co-sponsored “From Soundbites to Solutions” conference provided a forum for discussing issues of race, gender, class, and age in the media.

The White House Project and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education,

created a coalition with other key women’s and civil

hosted a forum of leading national political observ-

rights organizations to lead the fight seeking fair

ers, academics, and media professionals to discuss

www.womensmediacenter.com

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Annual Report 2006-2007


WMC Vice President Glennda Testone; Progressive Women’s Voices training class picture; WMC Interns Kritika Bansal and Natalie Diaz.

We work in collaboration to identify women whose perspectives and stories need to be shared, and connect them with journalists at the traditional and new media.

Linda Bash and WMC Media Director Kathy Vermazen.

issues of race, gender, class, and age in the media.

We also served as the judging headquarters for

“From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry, and

the United Nations Film Festival. Through our paid

the Press in the 2008 Election” was more than a

internship program, we mentor the next genera-

discussion. The content of this conference was syn-

tion of women in media, training them in a variety

thesized into a series of concrete recommendations

of skills related to media technology and advocacy.

for media professionals and

This goes to the heart of our mission to reflect in our

consumers; this report

work the reality of the world around us, supporting

will be delivered

voices that have been historically underrepresented,

at

journalism

especially those of women of color.

conferences as well as this year’s national political conventions. In addition to our

program-

matic work, The Women’s Media Center provides work space for several women filmmakers and artists, supporting important work, such as June Cross’ documentary on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

www.womensmediacenter.com

María Luisa Sánchez Fuentes, Executive Director of GIRE from a media briefing at the WMC commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Rosie Jiménez, the first known victim of the Hyde Amendment in the United States.

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Annual Report 2006-2007


Educating & Advocating

Sexism Sells, But We’re Not Buying It

M

ost people are shocked to learn that women by-line only a quarter of op-ed columns, comprise less than 10% of general managers in radio, and hold only 3% of influential, decision-

making positions in mainstream media. All of the Sunday morning talk show hosts are still men, and women experts are still few and far between. And even though media

In 2007, The Women’s Media

consolidation continues to

Center joined leaders of the

hurt women and people

women’s, progressive, and

of color, lawmakers and

civil rights movements in

media

have

Washington, D.C. and Tampa,

relentlessly moved forward

Florida, testifying before the

with plans to remove media

Federal

ownership protections that

Commission (FCC) about

promote democratic values

the

regulators

inherent

media

of representation. At The Women’s Media

Collaborating for change at the Women’s Media Center.

Center (WMC), we target these statistics by working to correct this imbalance and to ensure that all forms of media present the full picture. We do this work in two ways: • Educate the public about the lack of women in the media.

Communications threat

consolidation

women—the

of for

vulnerable

group WMC president Carol Jenkins labelled “The Invisible Majority.” In doing so, we contributed to an overwhelming show of public support against further consolidation—a fight still underway. The lack of women in decision-making positions is the breeding ground for defamatory and sexist

• Hold media accountable when they misrepre-

coverage and comments. The year 2007 began with shock jock Don Imus’ inflammatory remarks about

sent women. www.womensmediacenter.com

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Annual Report 2006-2007


WMC Philanthropic Partnerships Officer Maya Iwata and Intern Denise Davis; A Progressive Women’s Voices training at the WMC; Catherine Orenstein leads a WMC training.

Thousands of women and men across the country signed a WMC petition for media accountability, many writing to thank us for providing them with the evidence they required to join The Women’s Media Center Co-Founders: Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan.

our call for change.

the Rutgers women’s basketball team. The WMC

nist organizations including NOW, the Feminist Ma-

was at the forefront of the protest, working with

jority, and the National Women’s Political Caucus to

partners in the Coalition for Dignity & Diversity,

call for a formal apology. Matthews apologized on

calling for Imus, his network, and

air, a rare occurrence for a national media figure, and

his advertisers to be held accountable.

the president of NBC called the WMC to apologize. Apologies and promises to reform have been short-

began with

lived, however, and these two high-profile cases are

similar challenges

by no means the only examples of blatant sexism

for women in the

in the media. We collected some of the offenses

media. MSNBC

and distributed them in a viral campaign we call

Hardball

host,

“Sexism Sells, But We’re Not Buying It.” Released in

Chris Matthews,

May 2008, the video very quickly had over 200,000

issued a litany of

views on YouTube. Thousands of women and men

2008

offensive

remarks

across the country signed a WMC petition for

about

presiden-

media accountability, many writing to thank us for

tial

candidate

providing them with the evidence they needed to

Clin-

join our call for change. This campaign was covered

ton. Again, the

widely, in such prominent media outlets as The New

WMC

York Times, the Boston Globe, and on ABC’s Good

Hillary

joined

with other femi-

www.womensmediacenter.com

Morning America.

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Annual Report 2006-2007


your gift is powerful. Donate now to the Women’s Media Center and help make women visible and powerful in the media. visit us online at www.womensmediacenter.com

Making Women Visible and Powerful in the Media

According to a 2006 report from the Census Bureau, media consumption is the number one activity of Americans—making mass media the largest public education vehicle in this country. Media shapes our understanding of who we are, what our country is about, and what our place is in the world. When women are under- and misrepresented in the media as sources and professionals, and when women’s stories are not covered, access to the truth is limited. We need to make the truth be heard. Change the way the world works, transform media by making women visible and powerful.

Join The Women’s Media Center


The Women’s Media Center

strives to make women visible and powerful in the media. From our founding in 2005 by some of the best minds in the feminist movement and the media industry to our advocacy and media relations work today, we are part of a strong feminist tradition that seeks to hold the media accountable for presenting the world as we know it. Our mission is to assure that women and women’s experiences are reflected in the media just as women are present everywhere in the real world; that women are represented as local, national, and global sources for and subjects of the media; and that women media professionals have equal opportunities for employment and advancement.

The Women’s Media Center Board of Directors Loreen Arbus Cristina Azocar Jodie Evans Gloria Feldt Jane Fonda Carol Jenkins Teresa McBride Pat Mitchell Robin Morgan Jessica Neuwirth Rossana Rosado Gloria Steinem Helen Zia

The Women’s Media Center 90 Broad Street, Suite 301 New York, NY 10004 212-563-0680 www.womensmediacenter.com The Women’s Media Center is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. ON THE FRONT COVER: Alexus Jones, WMC Media Manager; Video still of Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, Progressive Women’s Voices participant, on Al Jazeera; Progressive Women’s Voices participant Sonia Ossario at a press conference. ON THE BACK COVER: The Women’s Media Center Board of Directors: (Back row, l-r) Helen Zia, Rossana Rosado, Cristina Azocar, Loreen Arbus, Gloria Feldt, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Carol Jenkins, (Seated, l-r) Teresa McBride, Robin Morgan, Pat Mitchell and Jessica Neuwirth; Board Member Jodie Evans in action; Panelists at the “From Soundbites to Solutions” conference.

Changing the Conversation  

The annual report of the Women's Media Center, making women strong and powerful in the media.

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