I mean, journalists should be dark, funny, mean people. It’s appropriate for their antagonistic, adversarial role.
I am a fan of Matt Taibbi’s work and look forward to reading his stuff at First Look. In fact, pretty much everyone that’s been announced as part of the First Look team is a reporter I love and respect.
But this line is sitting hard with me this morning, and Twitter’s not really allowing me the space to say what I want to about it in a nuanced fashion.
See, I mostly agree with this line. Gallows humor is part of the gig when you dig up depressing, awful things for a living. You have to be willing to see the dark stuff, not look away, and be able to handle that and not crack. (Mostly.)
But what bothers me, I think, is that I’m watching more and more young(ish) mostly white male journalists be handed new media empires. So many of us are wondering where the women are, and it’s sentences like this that give us a clue as to the answer.
Those characteristics—dark, funny, mean—are rarely attributed to women. Women are supposed to be nice, sweet, caring. We’re not funny, according to major comedy outlets and news outlets alike. Mean? Good luck getting work ever again if, as a woman, you’re accused of being mean. (And even when you just set boundaries of what work you will and will not do, and how much you will and will not take in pay.)
I know lots of women who are brilliant, fierce reporters, who live in the dark and manage to be funny anyway.
A few of those women are even part of these new media endeavors, but they haven’t been the subject of the glowing profiles I’ve read.
This is hard for me to write. I too am a journalist who doesn’t want to burn bridges or anger people who might want to hire me and who’ve unfailingly supported my work.
But I’m writing it because this is a structural issue that goes way beyond whether or not women lean in. It’s an issue of how we perceive people based in gender and race (it is unsurprising too that few men of color get to be “mean”—as we know, even talking back briefly gets young men of color killed), and what that says about who gets to do this work that I’ve dedicated my life to, that I think matters deeply.
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