January 14, 2019 | By JAWS Board of Directors
The Journalism & Women Symposium stands in solidarity with award-winning journalist Brittany Noble Jones and other women journalists, particularly Black women, whose employers have discriminated against them because of their gender and race.
Noble Jones recently said she experienced several instances of discrimination as a reporter working at a television station in Jackson, Mississippi, including her boss saying it was “unprofessional” for her to wear her natural hair on TV. Noble said her contract was eventually terminated.
Noble Jones’ experiences are the norm for many Black female journalists, who often spend significant time and money altering their natural hair to fit employers’ and viewers’ ideas of what is “professional.” Such expectations can be “psychologically damaging,” Northwestern University broadcast professor Ava Greenwell has said previously.
JAWS condemns all discrimination against journalists based on their gender and race. JAWS encourages industry leaders to hire diverse staffs, from interns to the highest echelons of management and ensure a culture of inclusivity in which journalists of color can thrive.
Women of color represent less than 13 percent of local TV news staff, less than 8 percent of print newsroom staff and about 6 percent of local radio staff, according to the Women’s Media Center’s 2018 report on women of color in news media. “U.S. media companies have not hired or promoted enough women of color as journalists to allow newsrooms to reflect the perspectives of their readers and viewers,” the report states.
Newsrooms that fail to reflect our communities and nation lead to distorted coverage and views of our society, and as Noble wrote in a post on Medium, “America deserves to hear the ‘untold stories.’” Better representation of women’s voices in media, particularly women of color, is crucial for news organizations to accurately portray our world, issues and events.
“Thank you to Journalism and Women Symposium for standing with me,” Noble Jones said. “It is time for corporations to take a close look at their policy on hair so that men and women can be their authentic selves and better represent the communities they serve.”
The Journalism & Women Symposium is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in media and work toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.