In the Buzzfeed article “Women Are Covering The Hell Out Of Syria — So Why Haven’t You Noticed?” Sheera Frenkel writes that although many women are covering the conflict in Syria (perhaps even more women than men) and covering it well, there seems to be a perception, even among feminist writers, that men are contributing more to Syria coverage. In part, this is because men are more likely to win awards because they gravitate toward the awards-friend frontline coverage and also because they’re more active self-promoters, in general.
This is important for many reasons in terms of feminism, and I could write a whole post about how this sucks for women and how it’s kind of a vicious cycle because women don’t promote themselves because they don’t see other women winning the awards and it’s patriarchal and oppressive, but I think there’s also a lot being lost by journalism in general if what Frenkel writes is true.
Women typically are writing the more wide-scope stories that put incidents in Syria into meaningful context, the article says. This is incredibly important. To use a sports metaphor, men are covering the slam dunks but women are covering the score. The dunks are sexy and fun, but they’re only worth two points. You have to pay attention to the score to see what is really going on in the game.
If coverage by women isn’t getting the commensurate number of eyes and, by transitive property, neither is the wide-scope, what-does-it-all-mean? kind of coverage, this is a huge loss for journalism and those who consume it. There’s probably a bias here in favor of sexy news, regardless of gender, but the gender part is important. If there’s going to be a noticeable divide between the way women and men cover conflict, it is crucial that both genders’ stuff is read.
I mean, duh, but, per usual, this sexism isn’t just hurting women; it’s having a negative impact on all of society. (Or at least people who read about Syria, I guess.)