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Monday, December 04, 2017

Newsrooms flunk sexual harassment

The main news anchors at three networks -- CBS, NBC and Fox News -- lost their gigs due to their lechery. And yes, the morning shows are the profit centers of the news divisions of broadcast networks. Is this the tip of the iceberg?


Newsrooms apparently do not take sexual harassment seriously.

The staff at Columbia Journalism Review tried to survey newsrooms to see what anti-sexual harassment training they provide.

From Columbia Journalism Review:
But in three weeks, we heard back from not a single one of the 149 newsrooms we contacted to participate.
Our goal is to learn more about how newsrooms handle claims of sexual misconduct in an attempt to demonstrate that, as an industry, we are both able and willing to answer the same hard questions we demand of other industries. We wanted reporters to tell us how well they understood their employers’ formal policies. Were they given a paper or electronic copy of a sexual harassment policy upon hire? Were they required to attend sexual harassment training? If they wanted to file a complaint of abuse, would they know how to do so? We wanted newsrooms, similarly, to tell us about their formal policies. 
My experience, limited to one newsroom in 30 years (the other three I worked at were back in the dark ages), tells me there is no training.

I realize that training is no guarantee that there will be no harassment, and that a lack of training does not mean there will be harassment, it does seem to be a dumb oversight.

If a newsroom has no sexual harassment policy, that would leave a news organization vulnerable in a sexual harassment lawsuit. That is my layman opinion.

However, Columbia Journalism Review did hear back from 310 individuals and reported:
Sixty-six percent of participating staff journalists said their companies had clear sexual harassment policies — a good sign. But just 21 percent strongly agreed that they understood those policies. Twenty-two percent said they disagreed when asked if they understood their newsroom’s policy, and 12 percent strongly disagreed.
The review also reported:
Most staff journalists said they attended sexual harassment training as part of a new employee orientation, but 73 percent said that they’d never been required to attend sessions outside of orientation where policies were formally discussed. And a whopping 96 percent of freelancers said the newsrooms with which they work had never shared copies of their sexual harassment policies with them. None of the 20 freelancers who said they physically worked onsite in newsrooms at least three times per month have ever been given copies of harassment policies.
Given that news organizations are relying more on freelancers -- stringers -- it should be more careful, particularly from a legal liability standpoint. Again, that is my layman opinion.

It gets worse. The promo to the article said: "88% of freelancers and 53% of staff are unsure how to report harassment."

That should have been fixed yesterday.

Men dominate most newsrooms, according to a May 20, 2014, report by Amy Joyce of the Washington Post.

She wrote:
The American Society of News Editors does an annual newsroom census to determine how many men, women and minorities make up the country’s newsrooms.
The employment of men and women by job category has remained about the same for years — newsrooms remain about two-thirds male. In 2013, the percentage of male supervisors is 65.4 versus 34.6 percent for females.
Reporters? 62.2 percent male versus 37.8 female.
Copy editors/layout editors/online producers (all one category) are divided 60.1 percent male and 39.9 female, while photographers/videographers make up the largest gender gap: 75.1 percent male versus 24.9 percent female.
Grand total: Men have 63.7 percent of the gigs, while women have 36.3 percent.
(This is where I mention that women, as of 2012, make up 46.9 percent of the U.S. workforce, and women comprised 51.5 percent of all management, professional and related positions.)
The piggish behavior of three of the top men in TV news should be enough to tell management in every news organization that they have a problem.

We shall see who learns from the walk of shame of Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose, and now, Matt Lauer.


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  1. I guess they never heard of "Caesar's Wife".

  2. So maybe I am just a fortune 500 corporate drone type employee, but we have to do the training either yearly or every other year. There are ethics line posters all over the offices I have worked in and currently work in. There is NO WAY I do not know how to report something.

    Also, I am a woman in a traditional male manufacturing world. In the last 25 years, from the union plant employees to the senior staff, I have never had anyone run around half dressed, proposition me, invite me to a hotel room (I do travel for work). I have had umpteen dinners with my male colleagues and this has never been an issue.

    Perhaps actors and media types need to work with a better class of people....

  3. Lack of sexual-harassment training was not the problem with any of the big-name anchors that got fired. They all knew that what they were doing was inappropriate! And they knew their behavior should be a firing offense. They simply thought they were too big to fail.

  4. I worked for IBM for 31.5 years and every year we had to have a meeting on sexual harassment along with Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (later replaced by Diversity (All Hail Diversity!) when Affirmative Action got a bad rap). Every freaking year! This is normal in all big corporations. Guess the Fake News Media never got the memo. - GOC

  5. Waiting to see who will be exposed at ABC.

  6. Rules made simple: If you harrass a co-worker, you will be fired. Don't do it! Seems simple, especially for those who consider themselves to be far above us locals.

  7. They could start the training with a no brainer:
    "Nobody wants to see your d***"