By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander had an interesting post on sexism at the institution he writes about. He gave several examples of recent pieces of writing in the paper which drew reader criticisms for gender bias. Most recently he cites a review by TV critic Tom Shales, known for his lavish use of language to take down TV programs with which he is not in love, of a news PBS public affairs program. (Full disclosure: I too host a PBS public affairs program) and an interview it aired with former President Bill Clinton.
Shales later apologized in an online chat for saying that the female co-anchor
looked as though she would have been much more comfortable in Clinton's lap.
Alexander went on to quote other Post references which may be found here.
But the most interesting part of his article, to me, was a study from 2008 which discussed the Post's declining female readership. It said, in part:
The study also said a content analysis of roughly 1,200 Post stories found that women were the focus of only 18 percent of them, although they comprised slightly more than half the area's population. The same analysis found that "men are quoted almost three times as often as women in the paper."
The study recommended the Post produce journalism "that creates an expectation among female readers that the paper is being published with them in mind."
I canceled my subscription to the Washington Post years ago and would also cancel my current subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times if only my husband wouldn't caterwaul in response. He's stuck on paper journalism, while I moved on years ago to the Internet for my daily dose.
The reason I dropped the Post years ago is because, quite frankly, I found the paper boring--especially its Op-Ed page. The writing was turgid and the opinions blasé. Maybe it has improved since then, but I'll never know because I'm in subscription dropping mode.