Dealing With Sexual Discrimination and Harassment In Local News

Dealing With Sexual Discrimination and Harassment In Local News

Written by Lois Lane
🕒 February 1, 2022

Most women in the TV News industry have been subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment at some point in their career.

Whether that’s in the newsroom, or in the field. Whether the culprit is a colleague, or a viewer, this behavior is wrong and you don’t have to stand for it.

When it comes to promotions, wages or story assignments, you might notice your male counterpart doing a bit better in terms of title, dollars or story selection. Does he really work harder than you? Is he that much more talented? Or is it sexual discrimination?

The Bureau of Labor shows women routinely earn 82 cents for every dollar a man takes home. That’s not unique to any one industry. Rather, it’s prevalent among most industries, including TV News.

Many news bosses will try to keep pay discrepancies quiet.

Or, when confronted, they insist that it’s based on merit, not sex. But you know better than that. Write out a bulleted list of all the ways you contribute to the daily news cycle.

Include your skills and qualifications, time served at this station, and an explanation of the pay you deserve and why. Make an argument for yourself and defend your reasonings. Force the news director to give you a valid reason as to why, and, if they can’t, insist on a pay bump.

Sexual discrimination doesn’t just show up in the paycheck, it also occurs in how male superiors talk to their female workers. In her recently released memoir, Katie Couric revealed that one of her first news directors asked her if she was on birth control, noting her breasts had gotten larger.

That’s an abhorrent example that may seem obviously wrong. But men make other comments regarding the fit of our clothes, style of our hair and makeup, and even the way we interact with sources. “The sheriff told you that? Probably wants to sleep with you.” Shut. It. Down.

If you can’t bring yourself to confront this pervert verbally, write a note (and take a picture of your writing) that expresses why you find his behavior unprofessional. Some of the TV greats—Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, among others—have had their names in lights for the despicable reason of sexual harassment.

When the aggressor is a person in power, the pressure is high to accept the behavior.

But guess what? If they’re treating you this way, chances are there are other women experiencing the same gross come-ons. Always document this behavior, and share it with HR immediately. If there were witnesses to the offensive act, or statement, include their names.

Laughing it off only gives the creep a false sense of power and justification.

Viewers are also culprits of sexual harassment. Using the internet as a transparent veil. Some fat, balding jerk at home on his couch is all too happy to send off a comment about a female news anchor’s looks, or voice pitch and delivery.

Society allows this kind of man to feel empowered and protected in making these comments, while forcing a woman to sit and take the harassment. Instead of thanking him for tuning in, or—God forbid—apologizing to this low-life, either don’t reply or tactfully remind him you’re reporting to inform him, not for his viewing pleasure. 😒

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