The popular saying “it’s a man’s world” is reflected in virtually every sphere of life. Journalism practice is definitely not left out. One of the most dominant indications of male dominance or ‘a man’s world’ impression in the environment of journalism practice is what is called macho newsroom culture. What then is macho newsroom culture in journalism practice?
This refers to male domination of the journalism profession which also reflects on daily newsroom activities. Macho newsroom culture talks about an atmosphere of work which makes you feel this job is mainly for men. You see it in the concepts used to even refer to practitioners (Gentlemen of the press), assignment of beats to cover, dominance of managerial position in the media by men, among others. The woman is somehow made to feel or think this is not a place for her to build a career. This is a general factor affecting female journalists across the world.
Polly Curtis, editor-in-chief, HuffPost, one of the leading online news websites in the United States of America, once said in an interview, “I have experienced extremely male-dominated cultures in journalism that I found very difficult at times. I also had long stretches of my career when it just wasn’t an issue. At its worst I’ve seen how off-putting that macho culture can be for younger women coming into newsrooms.”
She further observed that this situation was changing but not fast enough. According to her, “You can look across news organisations and see close to gender parity in terms of numbers but who is getting the front page bylines? Who is making the calls on what the most important news stories of the day are? Who is doing the hiring? Having gender parity at all levels of seniority is important.”
Curtis also notes: “Part of the problem is the loss of women from the most senior positions once they have kids so that leadership teams and news editors are disproportionately male. Anything that helps women continue to progress after they have children will help ensure newsrooms reflect the world they are reporting on.”
Stuart Allan, while writing on Journalism and the Culture of Othering, says this about how macho newsroom culture influences women in journalism practice:
“Today the day-to-day news culture of most newspaper and broadcast organizations is still being defined in predominantly male terms. While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women securing jobs in journalism, white middle-class men continue to occupy the vast majority of positions of power throughout the sector. Women are still not being promoted to senior decision-making posts in proportion to the overall role they play in the profession. At a time when news organizations are facing ever-more intensive (and increasingly globalized) forms of competition, the costs of this failure to treat women fairly in the journalistic workplace continue to mount.”
There is no disputing the fact that macho newsroom culture is a predominant feature in the journalism industry across the world. It could also be a discouraging factor for women enrollment in journalism practice. This is why media managers and stakeholders need to do more to work against gender disparity or practices that could encourage it in work place environment in the media sector.