1st NY Times Female Editor Talks Gender

Jill Abramson is the first female editor of the New York Times in its 160-year history.

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Fred R. Conrad/the New York Times

No Difference in Taste or Sensibility, Jill Abramson Says

Jill Abramson, who last week became the first female editor of the New York Times in its 160-year history, said Sunday, “The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true.”

The statement was challenged by women who have studied the topic of women in journalism.

Abramson’s comment came in an interview with the Times’ public editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, published Sunday. Brisbane asked, “Will the public see a change because a woman is now in charge?”

Abramson replied, “Do you think any readers noticed it when I was a managing editor and had a major role in the play and picking of stories online and in print? The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true. I think everybody here recognizes and loves a good story, and the occasions are rare when there is disagreement about that.”

The idea that people with different backgrounds bring different perspectives to their positions has been a consistent argument for diversity in the news business.

“I disagree” with Abramson’s statement, Megan Kamerick, president of the Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS), told Journal-isms. “Women do have different experiences than men to bring to a situation. The Global Media Monitoring Report on Women found that stories by female reporters contain more female subjects than stories by male reporters and are more likely to challenge stereotypes as well.” She recalled the Times’ handling of the gang rape of an 11-year-old in Cleveland, Texas, to make her point. More on that later.

Kamerick is a senior reporter at New Mexico Business Weekly and an independent radio producer.

“I don’t thoroughly agree with Jill Abramson,” said Wanda S. Lloyd, executive editor of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and one of four editors of “The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press.” “While yes, everybody loves a good story, it has been my experience that my female-ness has been able to shape some stories with a different sensibility.

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