Editor’s comment: 100 years after first women won vote, the Gazette must do more to beat sexism
PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:18 09 February 2018
This week’s Islington Gazette is almost certainly the first official “women’s edition” in the paper’s 161-year history.
It goes without saying that we hope every paper we produce is for women just as much as men.
But the fact is, that hope alone isn’t enough. A century after the first women got the vote, we still live in a hugely uneven society. That means if we don’t actively try and rebalance the scales, we will simply reflect that imbalance. Being passive means being sexist.
That realisation was an uncomfortable one for me. As journalists we hate to think of ourselves as anything other than fair and unbiased, as sticking up for the underdog. But the fact is we don’t do enough. We don’t actively seek out enough women’s voices – or those of the minority groups whose culture and work make, and made, Islington the place it is. We don’t always think critically about the effects of the stories we do tell on the status quo. Some weeks, you don’t see a female face – let alone a minority ethnic female face – until you’ve got halfway through the paper. Count the number of words attributed to men and women each week. Still think there’s no such thing as passive sexism?
This week, we’ve made an active effort to prioritise women – in our stories and profiles; in our sports coverage; in our photography; in our choice of front page. To anyone about to ask why there’s no “men’s edition”, the answer is: we publish a “men’s edition” pretty much every week while, year after year, young women open our paper – their paper – and see too few role models.
We will work to put that right, but the road is a long one. It includes looking at our own team and finding active ways to make it more diverse. In the meantime, to those we have failed to represent, I’m sorry. It’s not your job to tell us when we get it wrong, but I hope you will.