I just want to thank you for all your support re MarketWatch/Gawker. The many emails and phone calls I’ve received, mostly from women journalists but also from (enlightened) men, have been so gratifying. The great news is that this clearly started a dialogue about how sexism is still widespread in the profession of journalism. (And here I thought we’d moved on from the time when AP’s VP in charge of personnel worried that I wasn’t “tough enough” to become a Moscow correspondent — until foreign editor Nate Polowetzky told him, “She’d run over her own mother for a story.”) My main point was that there simply was no excuse for two separate standards (and by that I mean, two separate sets of questions, two separate sets of descriptions, etc.) to be applied in a profile of a female business journalist versus a male business journalist. The response I received from the author afterwards — “Oh, I wanted this to be a fun story!” — was also inappropriate, especially since this had been pitched to me as a serious look at my writing and reporting. You also agreed with me when I objected to shoddy journalism. You abhored that off-the-record quotes were placed on-the-record (that cemetery stuff), or that the author’s statements were written as mine (about being first on Ovitz, Eisner or Diller). You saw how the author omitted any mention of my journalism background or my recent award (which was supposed to be the peg for the story) yet focused on my debutante past and even judged my marriage. You understood me when I complained that the Frances Farmer quote was taken out of context. (My historical point, which I expressed to the author but he failed to include, was that Farmer fought Hollywood — and lost.) You disliked the author’s publishing deeply personal comments about me from a blogger who is a complete stranger to me. And you said “hurrah” when I contacted that blogger and asked for — and received — a retraction/apology. I’m reprinting four emails here which are representative of those I received (I’ve edited out their IDs):
- “Hi Nikki, you don’t know me, but I write about [XXX] for the Chicago Tribune (aka the Titanic). I think you were right to be upset about that Jon Friedman piece. He almost went out of his way to make you look a certain way, flaky or whatever, which is really unfortunate and so obviously not true. As a woman journalist, I couldn’t agree more with what you said about having to fight that much harder to get and keep your credibility. I’m sorry and even angry that he felt the need to portray you that way..”
- And this with the subject line “Well said, Nikki“ from a male editor at the Wall Street Journal: “You’re right. ‘When Friedman interviewed business journalists Allan Sloan (Newsweek) and Joseph Nocera (The New York Times) recently, he never asked them ‘Which business tycoon do you have a crush on?’ The result was a column that focused on their views about business journalism. Friedman and I talked 99% about that same subject, yet almost none of that is in there. Instead, Friedman asked me over and over and over again, ad nauseum, ‘Which movie star do you have a crush on?” — then focused on that kind of nonsense.’ I think Jon did mean to praise you, but you’re right that he’s not treating you with the deference he applies to the men. It happens too often, still.”
- And this from a female freelance reporter: “Of course there is rampant sexism in this biz, but except for you how many women journos are speaking up about it? How will anything ever change unless our (soprano) voices are heard, loudly? I’m sure Jon Friedman must be scratching his head, thinking he did you a favor. But let’s hope the discussion you invoked has let in some tiny molecule of enlightenment. It may not help his view toward you, but may affect the next female he interviews.”
Finally, I find it interesting that, in pick-ups of this mini-controversy, some bloggers twisted their postings into pretzels so as not to link to my own DHD words in response to MarketWatch and Gawker. On the other hand, I did receive two big assignments from a pair of major magazines because of this. Go figure.