Reporters and editors at the Wall Street Journal have signed a letter to management expressing concern about the role of women and people of colour in the newsroom.
“Diversity in the newsroom is good for business and good for our coverage,” the letter, which was obtained by Business Insider, reads. “We would like to see the Journal undertake a more comprehensive, intentional and transparent approach to improving it.”
The letter comes at a time of dissent at the Journal, when leadership has been internally criticised for being soft on President Trump, and nearly a year after the employees union published details of pay disparities in the newsroom.
The letter is addressed to the Journal’s Editor in Chief Gerard Baker and his deputy Matt Murray. It was signed by 160 staffers, one person told Business Insider, although this number couldn’t be independently verified.
“Our highest ranking female role model left the company earlier this year,” the letter says, in reference to Rebecca Blumenstein, the 22-year Journal veteran who left for The New York Times in February. “There are currently four women and eight men listed as deputy managing editors, and both editorial page editors are men. Nearly all the people at high levels at the paper deciding what we cover and how are white men.”
The letter references a report from last year from the IAPE, which pointed out a pay gap between men and women at the Journal. The Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones, pledged to correct any pay disparity. “We feel that the underlying issues regarding pay equity have not been adequately addressed,” the letter says.
The letter also cites a recent report by the Women’s Media Center, showing a decrease in the Journal’s A-section bylines by women in September through November.
“There are troubling signs in other parts of the paper as well,” the letter continues. “For example, over the past six months, the high-profile Saturday Review cover piece was written by a woman just once. And following the most recent round of layoffs and buyouts, just 18% of our union-represented writers, editors, visual journalists and reporters are people of colour.”
Representatives for The Wall Street Journal did not return calls seeking comment.
The letter closes with a list of some specific suggestions to help improve the situation.
Here they are:
- A Rooney rule ensuring that women and minorities are considered in the slate of candidates for all leadership positions.
- A significant effort made to hire a woman in a masthead-level position overseeing news gathering and involved in setting the coverage agenda. Many of the women in leadership positions have the word “deputy” in their title, including the deputy U.S. News and Money & Investing editors.
- Manager training to address and dispel assumptions about what individuals want their career paths to look like. For example, parents of young children may be eager to do a stint abroad or a breaking-news beat. And we have typically had few women on beats such as economics and sports, despite interest among women in covering those beats.
- Greater flexibility for parents that still offers them the opportunity to move up the newsroom ladder.
- A review of how well we do in quoting women as expert sources, rather than just men, especially in economics and markets stories, along with a concerted effort by managers and reporters to diversify our source pools.
- A detailed report of salaries among reporters, editors and other newsroom roles, broken down by section or group (US News, our global regions, M&I, Life & Arts, etc.), by gender and by race/ethnicity, shared with staff.