News from the Field

Resources for funders to address the #MeToo movement

Sexual harassment has been in the headlines since October, driven by women’s reactions to the high-profile outing of Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual predator.

Since then, an array of big-name reporters and news hosts have been investigated, suspended and/or fired for their inappropriate treatment of women: NPR’s news chief, the former editor of The New Republic, political journalist Mark Halperin, Matt Lauer of the Today Show and others.

How can funders and journalists work together to make newsrooms safer for female reporters, and to support coverage of harassment and sexual violence across other industries? Here are just a few resources:

  • In January, the Newseum hosted the Power Shift Summit, which brought media leaders together to discuss responses to sexual misconduct in the newsroom. This report from the gathering identifies seven principles to guide further action, along with solutions for repairing systemic failures and achieving long-term The Power Shift Project, led by Jill Geisler of Loyola University Chicago, will continue to promote workplace integrity and opportunities.
  • There are also parallel efforts to support and protect women who work in the tech industry. Here’s a post in which the National Center for Women & Information Technology share insights on what kinds of steps can be taken moving forward to foster a healthy workplace.
  • The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) suggests in this study that while female reporters face threats and harassment from audience members, the majority of “threats, intimidation and abuse directed toward respondents occurred in the work place and was perpetrated most often by male bosses, supervisors and co-workers.” The IWMF offers hostile environment training for female reporters and has increasingly been examining the issue of online harassment.
  • Foundations have supported long-range reporting projects on sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. This work can in turn help to inform campaigns for protecting female reporters, as well as freelancers and interns who are particularly unprotected. One notably effective production re-aired in January on Frontline, which is funded in part by the Ford, MacArthur, Park, and Abrams foundations. Titled “Rape on the Night Shift,” the film examines how female janitors face a pervasive threat of sexual assault on the job, and how they have banded together with unions and advocates to seek legal remedies. This collaborative reporting project followed on the heels of a previous investigation into migrant workers, titled “Rape in the Fields.” A new book by reporter Bernice Yeung based on this investigation was released last month: In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers.
  • While funders have supported an array of fact-checking projects, verifying the stories of assault victims can be complicated given the trauma associated with such experiences, and the fact that perpetrators often contest accusations. Poynter’s staff offers a useful guide for newsrooms: “Which sexual harassment and assault stories should you cover? ” The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma also provides resources for reporting on sexual violence. Also see these policies on trauma reporting from The War Horse, an online publication dedicated to covering the experiences of military veterans.
  • Better understanding the healing process of can also help reporters to sift through conflicting accounts of assault. See The Survivors Project, edited by our own Communications Director Nina Sachdev, plus The Courage to Heal Workbook, and Allies in Healing.

Are you supporting projects related to countering or covering sexual violence? We’d like to learn more—drop Research Director Jessica Clark a note at jessica@mediafunders.org.