Above Photo: Gerry Baker, The Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief. Monica Schipper/Getty Images
160 staffers Wall Street Journal signed a letter criticizing the control white men have over the newsroom
Reporters and editors at The Wall Street Journal have signed a letter to management expressing concern about the roles of women and people of color in the newsroom.
“Diversity in the newsroom is good for business and good for our coverage,” says the letter, which was obtained by Business Insider. “We would like to see The Journal undertake a more comprehensive, intentional and transparent approach to improving it.”
The letter comes at a time of dissent at The Journal, when leadership has been internally criticized for being soft on President Donald Trump, and over a year after the employees’ union published details of pay disparities in the newsroom.
The letter is addressed to The Journal’s editor in chief, Gerard Baker, and his deputy, Matt Murray. It was signed by 160 staffers, one person told Business Insider, although that number couldn’t be independently verified. This person said they didn’t know when the letter was delivered but that it was expected to have been handed to management on Tuesday morning.
“Our highest-ranking female role model left the company earlier this year,” the letter says, alluding to Rebecca Blumenstein, the 22-year Journal veteran and deputy editor in chief who left for The New York Times in February. “There are currently four women and eight men listed as deputy managing editors, and both editorial page editors are men. Nearly all the people at high levels at the paper deciding what we cover and how are white men.”
The letter references a report published last year by the employees’ union, the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, that found there was a gap between men’s and women’s pay at The Journal. The Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones, had pledged to address any pay disparity.
But the letter says the employees “feel that the underlying issues regarding pay equity have not been adequately addressed.”
The letter also cites a recent report by the Women’s Media Center that showed a decrease in the number of the Journal’s A-section bylines by women in September, October, and November.
“There are troubling signs in other parts of the paper as well,” the letter says. “For example, over the past six months, the high-profile Saturday Review cover piece was written by a woman just once. And following the most recent round of layoffs and buyouts, just 18% of our union-represented writers, editors, visual journalists and reporters are people of color.”
Representatives for The Wall Street Journal did not return calls seeking comment.
The letter closes with a list of specific suggestions to help improve the situation:
“A Rooney rule ensuring that women and minorities are considered in the slate of candidates for all leadership positions.”
“A significant effort made to hire a woman in a masthead-level position overseeing news gathering and involved in setting the coverage agenda. Many of the women in leadership positions have the word ‘deputy’ in their title, including the deputy US News and Money & Investing editors.”
“Manager training to address and dispel assumptions about what individuals want their career paths to look like. For example, parents of young children may be eager to do a stint abroad or a breaking-news beat. And we have typically had few women on beats such as economics and sports, despite interest among women in covering those beats.”
“Greater flexibility for parents that still offers them the opportunity to move up the newsroom ladder.”
“A review of how well we do in quoting women as expert sources, rather than just men, especially in economics and markets stories, along with a concerted effort by managers and reporters to diversify our source pools.”
“A detailed report of salaries among reporters, editors and other newsroom roles, broken down by section or group (US News, our global regions, M&I, Life & Arts, etc.), by gender and by race/ethnicity, shared with staff.”