I have much respect for Arianna Huffington, Maureen Dowd, Rachel Maddow and other big hitting women in American media today. I am not denying that the Oprahs of the world (though, plausibly, Oprah is the only Oprah of the world) have contributed much indeed to women in media everywhere. In honor, however, of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, I would like to take a look at some women in media who are well known, but not yet receiving Ellen, Couric, or Barbara level name recognition in the U.S. There are so many women doing amazing things in and for media everyday; the following five are just a sample of some women I find inspiring…Favorite Person: Shiulie Ghosh – Al Jazeera English News Reporter and Anchor.
Ms. Ghosh is well known in the international media, but her direct, clear, and serious brand of news reporting is something Americans may only be recently accustomed to as Al Jazeera English (online—not available via cable in the US) has received a great deal of attention for their excellence in reporting recent events in the Middle East. While Ms. Ghosh’s program Everywoman that explored issues faced by women around the world is sadly no longer in production, her continuing work for the network is surely a contributing factor to Secretary Clinton’s assessment that Al Jazeera brings the “real news.”
Favorite Media Moment: This clip on the fate of Muammar Gaddafi from yesterday is as good an example as any of Ghosh’s insistence on getting the story straight.
Favorite Quote: From an interview with NewsLab .NL: “Do you think that there has been progress in the struggle of Arab women to assert their rights? What are the major problems they have to deal with today?”
SG: “I think women have made great strides in the Arab world – in Kuwait, as I said before, they have voting rights. In Morocco women are trained as religious guides. In countries like Lebanon and Qatar, there are increasing numbers of businesswomen and scholars. Even in the suppressive regime of Saudi Arabia, more women then ever are entering the workforce. But women have huge obstacles to overcome. The effect of fundamentalism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza has greatly restricted women’s freedoms. Many receive death threats if they speak out about equality or go into public roles like the media. Women have lower levels of literacy then men – for example in Yemen, 62% of women are illiterate compared to 29% men. And everywhere, there is still a social and familial infrastructure which makes it very difficult for Muslim women to veer from the accepted path of marriage, babies, submissiveness to men. These are the obstacles that have to be overcome for true equality.”Favorite Person: Gigi Sohn – Lawyer, Activist, Academic.
Ms. Sohn is the President of Public Knowledge, “a Washington DC based public interest group working to defend your rights in the emerging digital culture.” While Ms. Sohn can better describe the means and the the mission of Public Knowledge, I know them for their efforts to keep the net neutral—working to insure that the law favors affordability of access and control of content for all internet users
Favorite Media Moment: Testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, the hearing on “Ensuring Competition on the Internet: Net Neutrality and Antitrust.”
Favorite Quote: “An open Internet is vitally important to political and social discourse, commerce, innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation in the U.S. […] Contrary to assertions by incumbents that consumers enjoy competition when it comes to broadband Internet access and can simply switch providers, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan reported that nearly 91% of all Americans reside either within a monopoly or duopoly broadband market. Given this reality, it is important that this Subcommittee works to promote net neutrality to ensure competition on the Internet.”Favorite Person: Chana Joffe-Walt—Radio Personality and Economy Demystifier.
Chana Joffe Walt is NPR’s smart and sincere all-purpose reporter and a correspondent for their Planet Money program, a show that, with Ms. Walt’s help, truly makes the business of economics much easier to handle without infantilizing its audience.
Favorite Media Moment: Chana brings her characteristically humanizing voice to international cotton subsidies.
Favorite Quote: “Essentially, this thing [Planet Money] would be all about asking good questions — those nagging questions that for the most part lie dormant in the basement of the business section, but that every once in a while bang on the ceiling when the story kinda stops making sense. Questions that get at the messy, irrational way our economy works and the messy and irrational people that get mixed up in it.”Favorite person: Nina Paley—Artist, Blogger, Activist.
Nina Paley is the artist responsible for the funny and truly breath-taking animated film, Sita Sings the Blues. Ms. Paley has also put her considerable talent to work fighting for questioncopyright.org and Librarians Against DRM (Digital Rights Management), which means she is doing her part to keep both access to information and the act of creating, not just consuming, media alive.
Favorite Media Moment: The Minute Memes
Threatened, imprisoned, much harassed and finally celebrated for her work exposing child pornography rings in Mexico and global sex trafficking, Lydia Cacho is an example of bravery and purpose in journalism for all men and women in the field.
Favorite Media Moment: ‘Favorite,’ may not be the right word this time, but it is an important moment nonetheless: The publication The Demons of Eden: The Power That Protects Child Pornography, a book that exposed power players partaking in a child sex industry in Cancun.
Favorite Quote: “One of my teachers told me you will never be good poet because you are too worried with reality so you’ll have to become a journalist.”