San Francisco Examiner Sure Seems to Love Hiring White Dudes

Categories: Media, WTF?
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Them's the facts
Why the San Francisco Examiner gives its lone female columnist, Melissa Griffin, a full body photo to accompany her prose is one of those questions you ask, but then you kinda don't want to know the answer.

As we all can see, in contrast, the newspaper's male columnists have nothing more than traditional homely mug shots. Is the Ex that desperate to be the New York Post? Or is there something more to it? 

If this obvious and embarrassing disparity isn't enough to make you question the Ex's intentions or at least cringe a little, here is something that might: The last nine hires in the Ex's newsroom have been men.

White men, that is.

In full disclosure, your humble author previously worked at the Ex, and even then there was only a sparse amount of estrogen in the newsroom. But it was not nearly as mancentric as it is today. We did some research, and found that of a small staff of about 35 editorial workers, only eight are female.

And none of these women have been recent hires -- all have worked there for longer than two years. So while some women have left in the last year, they are being replaced by male employees.

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Examiner sports columnist
Ironically, the newspaper's chief executive who is signing off on these hires is a woman. This fact piqued our interest. So SF Weekly contacted the Examiner's executive editor, Deirdre Hussey, to find out why the shortage of women.

Hussey did not respond to our questions. But we did get some insight from experts at the esteemed Poynter Institute. Jill Geisler, a senior faculty member who specializes in leadership and management, says she finds it "surprising" that there isn't more diversity in the San Francisco newsroom.

"It's an odd coincidence that every hire [of the last nine] would be men," she says. "That's suggesting that the only qualified people happened to be men."

The number of women in the Examiner's newsroom falls well below the national average. According to a 2011 American Society of News Editors study, 34 percent of newsroom staff nationwide were female. But what's even more unsettling is that women have been leaving newsrooms at a faster rate than men, according to a 2002 American Press Institute study.

Obviously, Geisler isn't out to indict the leadership at the Examiner -- for all she knows, it could be making job offers to women who turn them down. But she was confident about saying this man-only trend sends a clear message to the other newsroom staff.

"If you hire nine men in a row, and if you are losing women and gaining men, you should be asking yourself ... is there something about this environment that makes it inhospitable for  women?" she says.  

The buzz on the street is that another female reporter recently left, which means there will presumably be a vacancy. If the Ex does end up filling that with yet another male, the least it could do is show us some man boobs for a change.

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46 comments
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Flemingrandolph
Flemingrandolph

Journalism is probably a 'white male' sort of thing , anyway and a tad too cerebral for 'others'. Even dangerous..see Chauncey Bailey.

Black Lagoon
Black Lagoon

Rather than posit there's a problem, the SF Weekly should do some basic reporting on its own. Find the other women who left the paper (I am sure their names are somewhere on the Web) and ask them whether there's a problem in the newsroom. Relying on someone "eager" to talk is always a red flag.

As for Poynter's Geisler, she needs to shut her pie hole. Her address of the situation is tragically revealing from the start. She sees it through the lens of a "victim". Because women are not being hired, the environment is labeled "inhospitable for women."

Perhaps the truth is no women applied for the jobs. I'm just saying...

As far as the picture is concerned, she obviously likes it since she ain't complaining. Besides, she may have told them show would only write if her fully body shot went along with her prose.

My basic point is, do some research. Don't guess.

munkiecmunkiedo
munkiecmunkiedo

I, too, have been closely following the Examiner's editors' dealings with the female and male reporters, and having worked in other newsrooms myself, I am appalled at the blatant lack of respect for women that is evinced through actions that are not included in this blog.  I agree with Maplesock Maplesock; if this were a personal attack on Hussey, then there would be a lot more information in the blog, which has been excluded.  It's a pity that such talented reporters are constantly having to fight internally with their management when they should be working as a team to fight to give...oh what is that term?  A voice to the voiceless?  Seems like that's exactly what Sherbet has done in this blog.  And isn't that what journalism is supposed to be about, or did all my journalism school professors lie to me?  Call me a starry-eyed idealist...

Murrchen
Murrchen

Maybe Melissa looks better than Dickey, Garcia, etc., in a full body shot?  More, pleasing to the eye of most beholders...like the 95% of the rest of us who aren't gender depiction police?  Don't be jealous Erin. 

makeitstop
makeitstop

Derp, derp...chix be jellus...more hott laydeez. Shut up, imbecile.

Murrchen
Murrchen

"Derp, derp..."???  WTF did that mean in your middle school, hater?

I was just sayin'...don't need to trip THAT much, eh?

What's wrong with a pic of an attractive, poised young woman anyway?  Do we HAVE to take one of Dickey also, because there's one of Melissa?  Where's THAT written down?

 

Maplesock Maplesock
Maplesock Maplesock

@Eve Batey : Unfortunately, just because someone is a woman, evenif she has feminist values, doesn’t mean she is immune from engaging indiscrimination or bullying behavior towards other women. In fact, I suspect ithappens quite frequently. And calling her out on that behavior is not taking “potshots”at one of the few who have climbed a man’s ladder. It’s just calling bullshitwhere it exists, whether it’s dressed in pants or in a skirt.

@TheSoniaShow: It’s patently unfair to call this blog “apersonal attack by a former employee.” It is anything BUT a personal attack.  As someone who has followed the saga of thestaff at the Examiner over many years, it's clear to me that this is an extremelyunderstated blog. I imagine if Sherbert wanted to personally attack DeirdreHussey, she’d have plenty of ammunition that would be far more personal and damningthan a simple count of newsroom hires and ousters since Deirdre took over thepaper.

It's also legitimate media criticism to point out that a female columnist is portrayedin a tight, low-cut dress in a sexy stance while her male counterparts have been, atleast in recent memory, portrayed with friendly headshots. @c37d17e6610d61c985df7addc713fc99:disqus , ifI were you, I would be insulted and embarrassed that the Examiner uses yourbody to sell your column, when they assume your colleagues’ brains will do thetrick just fine.

Finally, what every commenter thus far has missed is the crucialtakeaway from Sherbert’s blog: that the Examiner is written and edited from analmost exclusively white male point of view, and that is a serious disservice toboth its staff and the public. Singularity of perspective in a newsroom makesfor plainly lousy journalism, creating an inherent blindness to important stories and angles.A situation in which people of color and women are small minorities in a newsroom, and thosewho make it in are then forced out or made to feel uncomfortable, is a recipe for a shitty newspaper. Ina time when resources to conduct serious journalism are limited, this city deserves much better.

I hope we can all agree that Deirdre Hussey has the power – andthe obligation – to diversify her newsroom and thereby strengthen the paper she purports to lead.  The responsibility to hire women and minorities,and to make them feel at home in her newsroom, is in her hands. Assuming the stats in this blog are correct, it appears she may not be up to that challenge. 

Melissa Griffin
Melissa Griffin

Well, since the SF Weekly likened my picture to a "Pleasant Hill housewife" I think your description of my outfit is off base. And your nasty comments about my colleagues are not even close to being true. My picture is related to the fact that my columns fill a page, and I'm the only one with a whole page at this point. I am a Cornell-educated lawyer and I would hope that you would be happy to see a woman in a position to write about politics.  Instead you attack my dress and such; it is you who should be ashamed.

munkiecmunkiedo
munkiecmunkiedo

As a Cornell-educated lawyer, I would hope that you would be ashamed to be portrayed in a full-body photo wearing a form-fitting dress, when you write about politics.  I wonder what kind of photo would be run if you were twice your size?  It's a shame that there is already a large gender bias in the media; even more shameful that an educated person like yourself is defending the decision to perpetuate it.

Murrchen
Murrchen

Why are you suggesting a full-figured woman is somehow unattractive?  Shameful that you foster that bias.

munkiecmunkiedo
munkiecmunkiedo

For which I am extremely grateful.  Otherwise, how else could we have seen your smokin'-hot bod?

Melissa Griffin
Melissa Griffin

My burqa was at the dry cleaner's the day they took the picture.

Juliana Bunim
Juliana Bunim

I don't agree with Erin's blog post, but I respect her right to post it and take ownership of it. Sadly, I can't say the same for some of these commenters who hide behind aliases to bash Deirdre, The Examiner and whomever else. Oaklander, stop being a coward. You clearly feel strongly enough to lash out at other commenters who post by name and are voicing their opinions respectfully. What are you afraid of? As a woman who was a local news editor at the Examiner working for Deirdre, I can say unequivocally that while she was an extremely tough boss, I never felt I was targeted for being a woman and never saw her or heard her speak disparagingly of any employee because of their gender. In fact, I think she wanted more out of me because I'm a woman in an industry dominated by men and wanted to see me succeed.

Erin Sherbert
Erin Sherbert

Julie,

What is there to disagree with? I stated only the facts: nine men have been hired since she has taken over as executive editor. Do you disagree? I don't believe I said that she "targets women in the newsroom."

Oaklander
Oaklander

TO THE SONIA SHOW (*yawn*):  Everyone should know who your best friend is:  Dierdre Hussey.  So you are not a reliable historian on this issue. Other women who work under her - and are not her best friend - have had a real and genuine experience that is horrible.

Oaklander
Oaklander

So I am going to stick up for the women that I know that work at this place since the friends of the Examiner feel so confident in defending this work place.  There have been some great women journalist at The Examiner who have been treated unfairly. I will leave it at that. 

Erin, I personally thank you for standing up for women. 

Why are women defending this?
Why are women defending this?

Sonia, how are you even still friends with Deirdre? Eve, you don't need to brown nose. You do great work that stands on its own.

Eve Batey
Eve Batey

I don't see how it's brown nosing to ask why the dudes involved aren't under the same scrutiny.  But it sounds like you and Oaklander know a lot about the inner workings of the place, tell me more!  Help me understand why the onus rests solely on the executive ed and, apparently, a freelancer! I'm at editor@sfappeal.com, if you don't feel comfortable doing so here.

Erin Sherbert
Erin Sherbert

Eve,

I don't think I ever said the onus rests solely on the executive editor. At the same time, she's running the ship. It's like if a new police chief was hiring all white officers, don't you think the city supervisors would ask him the same question?

thatguy
thatguy

Because the men you mention--Harper and Buell-- are among the recent hires. Hires that were made by the executive editor.

Eve Batey
Eve Batey

I'm friendly with both Hussey and Griffin, so please take my remarks with that grain of salt -- but I find it either suspicious or just remarkably careless that former SF Weekly Managing Editor/now Ex Assistant Managing Editor Will Harper (the one who called Griffin a MILF on this very blog) isn't mentioned anywhere in this piece. 

I've never worked with Harper, but socially he seems pleasant enough, so I'm certainly not implying he's anything other than pro-lady. 

But in my experience, the tone of a newsroom, as well as the hiring and firing decisions, are  set or made by the editors who work directly with the reporters, day in, day out, as much as anyone. 

So to leave out this important piece -- Harper's, or longtime East Bay Express (at one time, a corporate sister of the Weekly's) Editor, now Ex Assistant City Editor Stephen Buel's role in things, seems not only to marginalize these fine gentlemen, but, if I give the benefit of the doubt to this article, to demonstrate very sloppy thinking.

I'm the last person on earth who'd argue that there aren't gender issues at almost every legacy media publication (and many of the non-legacy). Hell, at nearly every workplace, anywhere.  And I am all for calling out that bullshit. Do it from the rooftops, everyone!

But given the overall tone of this piece, I have to wonder if the goal here is to call out that bullshit,  or to take potshots at some of the women who manage to succeed in the industry.

Of course, the alternative is that this is just a slipshod piece of reporting the Weekly's touting as "stirring up trouble" and "looking to start a little fight" to local websites. 

Which is worse?

dollars and sense
dollars and sense

when sf appeal finally runs out of whatever money is keeping its lights on (those news wires can't pay for themselves right?), she should look at a sideline business of lecturing people about what REAL JOURNALIZM is. oh wait that won't make any money either

Sonia Mansfield
Sonia Mansfield

I wish I could like this comment more.

Oaklander
Oaklander

Of course you couldn't like the comment more. It is defending your best friend. You and Eve Batey are Deirdre Hussey's friends.  Neither of you are objective.

Sonia Mansfield
Sonia Mansfield

And you are a friend of the reporter who wrote this story. Yeah, everyone wins!

Tanyaxjohnson
Tanyaxjohnson

You guys have never worked for Deirdre Hussey. You are letting your personal friendship cloud the manner in which she may treat her subordinates and ignore the objective evidence. Predominately - women left. Why. And the last hires are men.  You do not find that at all odd.

Nobdy wants to attack your friends. We get it. You're friends.  But the people that work under your friends do not think of them in the same regard as you.

Sonia Mansfield
Sonia Mansfield

I am not a defender of The Examiner or Jim Pimentel. I did work at The Examiner, and I did work with Deirdre Hussey, who - yes, is a friend of mine. And sure, I don't think it's fair that she is getting the blame for the sexist behavior of Jim Pimentel, who doesn't work there anymore. I worked there, and I know that under Pimentel it was a hostile work environment for both men and women (but especially women). That's why I quit! But Deirdre wasn't, and isn't, the problem.

Somewhere in the above article is the basis for a really good article about this subject. But sadly, this article is just not good enough. It has no facts, no real sources. The reporter has no idea if women were offered those jobs and turned them down. With more in-depth reporting it could be a solid, thought-provoking article about the state of women and the newsroom. Instead it's a personal attack by a former employee.

Hombre
Hombre

And you all seem to love to hire white women.

Pot, kettle, white anyone?

Chris
Chris

"It's an odd coincidence that every hire [of the last nine] would be men," she says. "That's suggesting that the only qualified people happened to be men."

--That statement connects two thoughts that logically do not follow each other. It's not evidence.

exExexer
exExexer

Deirdre made it no secret that she got along best with men. Her predecessor had a documented "female problem" as well. There are things to like about the EX: okay wages for a newspaper, good local news coverage, talented reporters. But treatment by management is nothing short of abusive.

Ex-Ex
Ex-Ex

Wow, disgruntled former employee! Next time you attempt a hit piece you shouldn't rush it.

 

Chris Roberts
Chris Roberts

To be fair, they also DON'T like to hire (certain) white dudes.

David Tracy
David Tracy

I hate to say it, but this is a pretty weak argument. Without male to female ratio data, quantity of applications, number of interviews and the results of said interviews, job offers and response to job offers, this article is shallow, like "I also write for Groupon" shallow.

For the record, I am not a fan of The Examiner, man boobs are never pretty, I'm totally down for equality in hiring, but this is reaching.

Sonia Mansfield
Sonia Mansfield

I used to work at The Examiner, and I have not always been its biggest fan; however,judging from your staff box on your website, the SF Weekly isn't exactly rolling in female employees itself.

As a bitter ex-employee, I can tell when a story is written by a bitter ex-employee.

Oaklander
Oaklander

Sonia. You do not know what in the hell you are talking about. Wait, is that you Jim. Again?  Why was Pimetahl shuffled out the door. Nope, nothing there. Have you ever had your boss humiliate, discriminate and belittle you.   Way to stuck up for a corporation. Did it every occur  to your in world of bitterness that perhaps the writer worked at this place and based on her own experience found it inhospitable and discriminatory?  You never worked there but you feel free to compare it your situation except that you are ex-emplyee bitterness expert. Debbie Downer.

Thankfully, everybody is not you and every ex-employee is not bitter and some ex-employees feel free to comment on a work place that is hostile and takes steps to leave. 

Ex SFW-er
Ex SFW-er

A male-to-female ratio that "falls well below the national average" would indicate that the situation is the reverse of what you're describing.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Let's be fair here: you don't become a journalism student because you're good at math.

Ex Exer
Ex Exer

The Examiner newsroom is inhospitable to people, not just women.

Melissa Griffin
Melissa Griffin

Erin, Ken Garcia's column is only half a page, which is why his picture is smaller. When he had a full page, his picture was similar in size to mine.

Oaklander
Oaklander

Oh Melissa. Why are you even defending your full body shot? Why?  If you wanted to be taken as a serious journalist, you would not allow it.

Melissa Griffin
Melissa Griffin

When I fist started at the paper, Ken was doing Fault Lines, a full page column and his pic was the same size as mine. In fact, my page was graphically modeled on his. Now that he does several half pages per week, his pic is smaller. And while I have no say in the layout of my page, being "taken as a serious journalist" sounds a lot like kidnapping. Personally, I'm grateful to the Examiner for allowing me to contribute. As a freelancer, I don't have a clue what goes on in the newsroom or who is hired and fired, but I can say that my experience has always been positive.

exExexer
exExexer

Ken Garcia had a full body shot? His figure must not be that memorable, because I can't seem to recall that photo.

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