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Men, women, and media empire-building [AnnFriedman.com]

22 Aug

Men, women, and media empire-building [AnnFriedman.com]

The narrative that these men are self-made media brands is some libertarian-bootstrapping bullshit. Each of these brothers didn’t build an independent empire. They were hired for staff jobs of increasing prominence by higher-ups (most of them, I’m going to wager a guess, also male) at established media organizations. . . .

Narratives matter. When publishers who are not super keyed into the internet read in The New York Times that there are these young men who are redefining media and building a dedicated online following, you can bet those young men become more attractive hires—and that they have more bargaining power. Theirs are the names that leap to mind. It’s like a sexist perpetual-motion machine. By the time we get to the advanced-empire stage of making demands and running spinoff sites, is it any wonder that women are conspicuously absent? [Ed. note: Well, not totally absent. They are often editing and assisting and doing the web producing for these men.]

I know this isn’t about something “in the academy,” but (to give an explanation that I suppose is somewhat belated):

A) Friedman writes regularly on career ladder issues that seem to me to be relevant to the tenure-track conversation (and related ones) in academia, and on other wide-reaching feminist concerns, and

B) I talked with Ambar once a little bit about construing the idea of “women as scholars” a little more broadly, as “women as experts.” And for me, at least, Friedman is one of those people whose expertise positively oozes from her writing even though it’s not carpet-bombed with academic jargon. (Also, as in this case, she often writes about expertise and the acquisition thereof.) I’ve never sat down to analyze it line by line or anything, and that sort of thing isn’t a particular strength of mine anyway. I just know that every time I read an Ann Friedman article I walk away feeling like I’ve learned something. Also,

C) It’s probably fair to assume that I just can’t let go of my student journalism roots. Where, incidentally, most of my editors (and also my illustrator, when I edited the opinion page) were women.

– Kris

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