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Katie Couric & Sexism in the Media

July 24, 2008

Dear WMC Supporter, Katie Couric sure knows how to make, as well as cover, the news. The other night, at the NOW dinner in Washington, D.C. where she was honored, I heard her say, "In case anyone's wondering, I'm a feminist." I was among those who nevertheless asked, "WHAT did she say?" Carol Jenkins Dear WMC Supporter, Katie Couric sure knows how to make, as well as cover, the news. The other night, at the NOW dinner in Washington, D.C. where she was honored, I heard her say, "In case anyone's wondering, I'm a feminist." I was among those who nevertheless asked, "WHAT did she say?" I was there at the annual NOW conference, participating in a plenary session on sexism in the media, and we certainly had much to talk about. Katie's June 11th Notebook blog post caused a stir in journalistic circles when she said that sexism had a play in the primaries: "It isn't just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season - it's all the people who crossed the line, and all the women and men who let them get away with it." Those are rare words coming from inside corporate media. Katie was almost a single voice from within, joining those of us on the outside--on a strictly non-partisan basis--who took the pundits to task for traversing many the line in their analysis of Clinton.  If people were coming to the conclusion that Couric's outspokenness is due to her planned departure from her duties at the CBS news desk, that seemed to be cleared up this week. The first woman network anchor/managing editor said she's staying. So did her bosses. It turned out to be a complicated week for Couric: she's in the Middle East, having landed the first interview with Barack Obama after his inspection of Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel's Ha'aretz reported that Couric said: "The glory days of TV news are over, and the media landscape has been dramatically changed...The corporate pressure and the ratings terror are intensifying all the time, and the situation is not simple. I find myself in the last bastion of male dominance, and realizing what Hillary Clinton might have realized not long ago: that sexism in the American society is more common than racism, and certainly more acceptable or forgivable. In any case, I think my post and Hillary's race are important steps in the right direction." The blogosphere erupted immediately at Couric's seeming to have ranked sexism above racism-CBS replied th at something must have been lost in translation: "Katie wouldn't, and didn't, say sexism is more prevalent than racism.  Her point was sexism seems more tolerated than racism." This debate is precisely why the WMC held our recent forum on bias in the media-encouraging the media to become more sensitive to the issues of gender, race, age and class. Our report, with recommendations, will be available shortly. Patricia DeGennaro As attention is drawn to our war fronts, for a first-hand account of what life is like in Afghanistan, please read Patricia DeGennaro's report. It's part of our "Election Dispatch" series running on our website. A member of our Progressive Women' Voices program, DeGennaro has just returned from working in the Office of the President of Afghanistan. You can have our Exclusives and our Daily Briefs sent directly to your mailbox by signing up here: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/sign_up.html Tonight at 9PM ET, Wednesday, July 23, another of our Progressive Women's Voices participants, Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, will be featured in part one of CNN's four hour documentary series "Black in America." Avis has also been selected as a regular commentator on "To the Contrary" the PBS issues program, and will do analysis during the Democratic convention for Canadian television. Details about the CNN broadcast can be found here at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/black.in.america/ Please join us in our efforts to make women visible and powerful in the media by contributing to The WMC. DONATE We're off to the Unity Journalists of Color conference in Chicago. Have a great week! Best, Carol Carol Jenkins, WMC President

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