Dear Fan of AlterNet

If you had the impression that women’s voices are more or less equally represented in media — that the gender byline and TV appearance gap has been fixed — you would be wrong. There is still fundamental male dominance in the public discourse, and that is unacceptable.

When women’s voices are missing, we all are deprived.

We are writing to ask you to help us improve this situation… and, by the way, it won’t be easy.

The OpEd project collects data on female bylines from the op-ed pages of the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, as well as from content of online sites such as HuffPo, Slate and Salon. Oftentimes, the numbers are chilling:

  • 95% male writers for week of April 12th for the Wall Street Journal;
  • 95% male for week of March 15th for the NY Times;
  • 81% male for week of April 26th for HuffPo;
  • 91% male for April 16th for Salon

While these are among the worst weeks, it was an extremely rare week, over the past 3 months, when any of these media operations had more than 30% women’s bylines, and often much less.

There are several reasons for the gender byline gap. One issue is: Anonymous commenting aims hostility toward women. In addition, American Prospect editor Ann Friedman writes: "Men are socialized to be more aggressive and confident, which translates to pitching more articles and getting published more often. Men are more likely to be well connected. Men are more likely to tout their experience."

At AlterNet we’ve featured 1/3 female bylines for more than four years — it’s an editorial requirement. (We’re not aware of any other major media outlet that has a minimum requirement.) But that is still inadequate. We just surveyed our own content over the past month and the number of female bylines is only 35%. So we are not as cool as we thought.

Doing what we normally do every day isn’t enough. So, we’ve decided to dedicate additional resources and make a special effort — raise money for an editor whose primary job it is to assign women content, raise more money to pay for more women writers, and develop a wider system to distribute great female writers to social networking sites and other media.

This endeavor is one of our most ambitious to date.

Recently, a funder agreed with our goals and offered us $15,000 in seed money for this project… but with a hitch. Because one of the points we made was that Facebook was a more positive environment for female writers with no anonymous commenting, our funder wants us to raise matching money directly from our Facebook users. And that’s where you come in.

Will you help us? Go here:

Any money contributed will go toward assigning and marketing strong journalistic content by women with an emphasis on hard issues of foreign affairs, politics, investigating the Tea Party, etc.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Roxanne Cooper and Adele M. Stan

Associate Publisher and Washington, DC Bureau Chief


P.S. AlterNet is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. 100% of your contribution to this effort is tax-deductible.