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0ct. 31, 2007




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School of Communication

Journalists highlight women's issues


By Jennifer Spike and Crystal L. Huggins

Two prominent area journalists urged aspiring women journalists to speak up and take the initiative to move up the ladder in the newsroom.
“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes,” said Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz during a discussion on “Women in the Media” on Oct. 24 at Drinko Hall.
Kim Wheeler, WKYC reporter and news anchor, said people should value women journalists based on the quality of their stories and experience, and not on their looks. Wheeler is the winner of a Cleveland Emmy for the best news anchor.
Both women recalled the challenges they faced at the early stages of their careers.
Schultz, who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary writing and whose column is now nationally syndicated, recalled a pivotal moment in her career.
When she became a full-time reporter after working for 15 years as a freelancer, her boss at the time embarrassed her in front of her colleagues.
After telling her how to do her job, she responded loudly, “Just so we’re clear, this is not my job, this is my career.”
Wheeler, who recently won a local Emmy for best news anchor, recalled getting pats on the head and being called “sweetie” by men during her days as a young reporter in Bluefield, WV. She had to remind them that she was a professional and to be treated with respect.
Schultz shared the experiences of growing up as a young woman in her generation. “I was raised that women should listen,” she said. In retrospect, she believes that her ability to listen well has made her a good journalist.
CSU student Linda Hart agreed.
“As an older student at CSU, I was raised in the same generation as Connie,” Hart said. “We were raised as women not to speak up. I liked the fact that Connie really believed in women representing themselves intelligently.”
After years in the industry, both journalists knew that they have gained wisdom and have grown as professionals, but as a whole, they agreed that there is still room for growth in a woman’s role in the media.
Schultz said she would like to see more women covering politics. She would also like to see more opinion pieces from women writers.
Wheeler added that she wants women journalists in television to be judged based on their integrity and credibility rather than on their appearance.
Wheeler explained the challenges of being a female television reporter.
“Looking nice in the business is a double edge sword,” she said. “Sometimes, I feel like I get more calls about where I get my haircut rather than on education stories.”
According to Wheeler, image is still a big part of the business, which is frustrating. “Experience should be valued,” she said.
Dr. Edward Horowitz, an associate professor with the School of Communication who attended the discussion, agreed with Wheeler on the idea of how women are portrayed in the media. “It’s sad to hear about the sexism that still goes on in the business. It’s unfortunate, but still practiced. Hopefully one day in the future, women will be respected for their journalistic ability and not based on their looks,” he said.
Schultz and Wheeler said there are still roadblocks for women even though women’s role in the media has come a long way.
Schultz also stressed the importance of women such as herself and Wheeler to lead the way and set examples.
“If we don’t carry as we climb, the only legacy that we will have is that we made it, and that’s just not good enough,” said Schultz.
The event was organized by the CSU Student Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Schultz and Kim Wheeler,
Alongside Schultz sat WKYC reporter and news anchor Kim Wheeler as they talked about the changes in women’s role in the media and discussed their personal experiences as successful female journalists.

CSU students, faculty and staff filled the seats of Drinko Hall to gain insight on “Women in Media,” a panel discussion on Oct. 24, hosted by the Cleveland State Student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in an effort to promote diversity in journalism.


 


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