Original hollywoodreporter
Original hollywoodreporter

Hey America, The Future of Media Is Actually Female


The future of media looks equal parts sobering and inspiring. While the industry is inching towards a future that has more women and more people of color, that change is coming slowly, at least in traditional print and online outlets.

According to the 2016 diversity survey conducted by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), minorities comprised about 17 percent of employees at daily newspapers and 23 percent at online-only sites. Women made up about a third of newsroom employees overall, accounting for 38 percent of daily newspaper employees and nearly 50 percent of online-only news organization employees.

"The numbers seem to be moving in the right direction, but the pace of diversity needs to quicken to catch up with the population," said ASNE President Pam Fine in a 2016 press release.

Another study conducted by the Women’s Media Center in 2015 shared results that further highlight the opportunity gaps between men and women in the media:

“Overall, men generated 62.1 percent of news; women generated 37.3 percent.

* In evening broadcast news, Men were on camera 68 percent of the time. These include appearances by anchors as well as correspondents. Women were on-camera 32 percent of the time.

* In print, men wrote 62 percent of all stories in 10 of the most widely circulated newspapers. Women wrote just 37 percent.

* On the Internet, men wrote 58 percent of content at four online news sites. Women wrote 42 percent of the content.

* On the wires, men wrote 62 percent of the content. Women wrote 38 percent.”

In the film and television industry, women represented just 27 percent of the content creators, writers, producers, executive producers, photography directors and editors of prime-time TV shows in 2013-2014, which are the latest available numbers from the Women’s Media Center.

Even though these statistics show there’s still more work to be done to ensure media makers reflect the actual population of the United States (and not like this), there are still inspirations to be found within and outside the traditional media and entertainment industry, if you're willing to defy the norms and seek new content.

There’s Queen Sugar, the OWN drama that boasts an all-women roster of directors which prompted Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg to follow suit.

There’s also Brown Girls, a web series written, directed, and starring women of color. The crew is also mostly women and also queer.

There’s Sesi and Rookie Magazine, independently owned and operated magazines geared towards teenaged audiences.

In Chicago, there is The Triibe, a new digital media platform created by two Black women—Tiffany Walden and Morgan Elise Johnson, and Off-Kilter, a print magazine with an impressive online companion site created by Felton Kizer, a young black photographer.

Renina Jarmon, an artist, writer, and doctoral candidate who built a massive online community around her hashtag and personal ethos #BlackGirlsAreFromTheFuture. (Full disclosure: Jarmon is a personal friend.)

April Reign, whose viral #OscarsSoWhite hashtag arguably led to the inclusion of more people of color in The Academy and continues to drive conversations around issues of inclusion in the filmmaking and TV industry.

While Seven Scribes and SPOOK magazine have different mission statements and delivery methods (Seven Scribes is online-only, SPOOK is print), both are publications that bring depth and experimentation to online and print spaces regarding arts and culture.

As a fiery, wise man once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” As slow as change is to come, it is coming. And it won’t look like the present.

Danielle A. Scruggs is a Chicago-based photographer and writer who runs the website Black Women Directors and is also the Director of Photography at the Chicago Reader, an award-winning alt-weekly newspaper. Follow her on Twitter at @dascruggs and view her site at daniellescruggs.com.