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Vol. 37, No. 2, Spring 2009

Female Journalists Risk Health,
Lives to Cover World Trouble Spots

As we go to press with this issue of Media Report to Women, we report about numerous threats to female journalists, some of which still remain to be resolved.

Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American with dual citizenship, was released from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison May 11 after her eight-year sentence for espionage was reduced on appeal to a two-year suspended sentence. Iran revoked her press credentials in 2006 but Saberi remained in the country, working on a graduate degree and gathering research for a book. She refused food for two weeks to protest her sentence, and appeared thin and tired at her appeal hearing. Saberi has reported for the BBC, Fox News, National Public Radio, and other respected news outlets. She will be banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years.

American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, reporters for Current TV, have been detained in North Korea since March 17. North Korea announced a trial date of June 4 for the pair.

And Jestina Mukoko, a Zimbabwean journalist turned human rights activist, was released in March after being abducted in December by state security agents. She was beaten and interrogated before her release. She still faces charges of sabotage, an intimidation tool of the repressive government of Robert Mugabe. For now, she is free.

Susan Boyle: The Message
Heard ‘Round the World

Susan Boyle, the Scot whose delivery of “I Dreamed A Dream” on an April episode of “Britain’s Got Talent” electrified millions via YouTube, returns for another judging June 23 on NBC, when the show makes its U.S. debut.

Everyone will be watching to see if Boyle bows to TV beauty conventions and shows up as a quite different version of the plain, unpretentious matron who appeared on the England-based program in April.

Then, a snickering audience and eye-rolling judges waited as Boyle walked to the center of the stage with a hand-held mike. Clearly, based on her age, appearance and apparel, expectations of her were low – really low.

Then she opened her mouth and gave all present the shock of their lives. Afterwards, judge Amanda Holden said, “It was a real privilege to hear that.” And anyone who has ever watched Simon Cowell deliver a devastating critique of an amateur performance had to take pleasure in watching his jaw drop as Boyle sang her heart out.

Women’s Media Center Acquires
Female Source Database SheSource

The Women's Media Center (WMC) has acquired SheSource.org, a database of women experts created three years ago by The White House Project, Fenton Communications, and the Women's Funding Network. Since its inception, SheSource.org has been used by thousands of reporters and generated countless media opportunities for the women involved, said the WMC in a statement.

"The Women's Media Center is absolutely thrilled to be SheSource.org's new home," said WMC President Carol Jenkins. "SheSource.org complements our work and mission perfectly, and we are so grateful for the incredible work that The White House Project, Fenton Communications and the Women's Funding Network did to bring the resource to life. The WMC is known for our work in media advocacy, media creation, and the media training and placement we do through our Progressive Women's Voices program. We are so excited to take this tremendous program to the next level."

Women Dominate Goldsmith Prizes
For Political, Investigative Reporting

The ascendance of women in political and investigative journalism was confirmed on March 24 as women for the first time dominated the Goldsmith awards in political journalism, handed out by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

New Yorker writer Jane Mayer got the Goldsmith trade book prize for The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, and PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen of The Washington Post earned one of journalism’s highest (and most lucrative) honors, the $25,000 2009 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for their jaw-dropping – and stomach-turning -- reporting on housing violations in the nation’s capital.

Olympic Coverage Raises Role Model
Concerns, New Zealand Study Says

Women competitors received only a third of the photographic coverage at the Beijing Olympics in two of New Zealand's largest daily newspapers, a Massey University research project has found.

Associate Professor Sarah Leberman and Dr. Farah Palmer, who led the study whose results were released May 7, 2009, say male Olympians were twice as likely as their female counterparts to be featured in the pages of The Press (published in Christchurch) and The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). The researchers also found a gender divide in photos published by news organizations in 12 countries.

From 432 photographs of Olympic athletes from all countries published August 7-25 last year, 65 per cent were of men, 34.3 per cent featured women and 0.7 were mixed.

The researchers say this means girls see fewer of the role models they need to inspire them to be successful in sports.

Japanese Media Discover 40-ish Women,
View Them as Wealthy Careerists

Japanese media have been focusing on career women around age 40 as trend setters, calling them “Ara Four” (meaning “around 40”), and creating content about them and periodicals and programs for them.

Research in Depth – YouTube Vlogs: A Gender Analysis by Heather Molyneaux, Susan O’Donnell and Kerri Gibson

Research in Depth– Family-friendly? A Study of Work-Life Balance in Journalism by Tracy Everbach

Commentary –Women Journalists Create, Improvise, Seek New Careers by Sheila Gibbons, Editor

Plus News Briefs!

Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972. Indispensable for research!

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