A survey of tech-y journalists tiptoes into the sexual-harassment-in-newsrooms problem (but tons of questions remain)

OpenNews has released the results of its second annual survey of “news nerds” (defined as “the developers, designers, editors, data analysts, and product folks who work in tech and journalism”) ahead of this week’s SRCCON:WORK conference. The survey, conducted over the summer in partnership with the Google News Lab, had 756 respondents (a 47 percent increase from 2016). The 2016 survey (the results of which were released in March) found that the journalism-tech community was mostly white, male, and under the age of 35. This year’s survey found a more diverse bunch in terms of gender (though it also surveyed more people, and cross-year comparisons are tough!) but it’s still a predominantly white, young, coasts-based group: Forty-one percent of respondents (310 people) were female, up from 33 percent (117 people) in 2016. Seventy-eight percent of the 484 people to answer the question were white. Nearly half of respondents
between the ages of 26 and 35. And this group is still predominantly clustered on the coasts. As noted in the release:
Just over half of respondents from the U.S. were from Los Angeles, New York, or DC metropolitan areas (51 percent). Responses between metro markets and the rest of the U.S. sometimes differed significantly. Some major differences included: 26 percent of respondents from outside metro areas reported working remotely 5 days a week compared to 9 percent in metro areas. In responding to the biggest challenge facing their team, there was an 18 point gap, with 46 percent of respondents outside of metro areas citing it as a challenge that they do not have editors qualified to supervise tech work and 28 percent of respondents in metro areas citing that. Citing lack of budget as a challenge was a 24-point gap, with 44 percent of respondents outside of metro areas citing it and 20 percent in metro areas citing it.

Respondents were also asked whether, “based on [their] own assessment,” they’d been “treated unfairly or been the target of micro-aggressions or direct harassment.” 151 people answered; 70 percent of those who said they’d been harassed were women. This survey was conducted in the summer of 2017, before the recent explosion of sexual harassment allegations in the news, and I’m cautious about reading too much into it — as is Erika Owens, deputy director of OpenNews, who said that caution was one reason OpenNews didn’t make the harassment data a topline result of the survey. Still: “I know even in the past couple of weeks there have been other surveys that have come out on harassment in particular,” she told me in an email, “but I think it is interesting that this data was both before it was top of mind AND derived from a general pool of respondents (not only folks self selecting to fill out a survey on harassment).” Next year’s survey may expand on this, she said, including asking more questions specifically about mothers in newsrooms. The full results of the survey are here.

Leave a Reply