The Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic Doesn’t Think Women Can Write Longform Pieces
Women of the internet however, were quick to correct him.
Another day, another oblivious man spouting nonsense about women. In an interview with Nieman Lab‘s Laura Hazard Owen, The Atlantic‘s editor-in-chief Jeffery Goldberg and tech editor Adrienne LaFrance discussed increasing the diversity of their newsroom.
And The Atlantic has been successful in this endeavor. In 2016, women made up only 17 percent of editorial leadership positions. Today, that has risen to 63 percent. In addition, 75 percent of the newsroom hires in 2018 were female. These achievements are laudable and impressive, showing that The Atlantic is clearly putting their diversity initiative into action. Both LaFrance and Goldberg discussed not only the addition of women to their newsroom, but of people of color as well.
But then, Goldberg wedged his foot firmly in his mouth with the following statement:
“It’s really, really hard to write a 10,000-word cover story. There are not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males. What I have to do — and I haven’t done this enough yet — is again about experience versus potential. You can look at people and be like, well, your experience is writing 1,200-word pieces for the web and you’re great at it, so good going!”
Oof magoof. Buddy, you’re giving an interview on diversity in your newsroom! You can’t pat yourself on the back for hiring women and then turn around and make a condescending statement like this. First off, it’s categorically untrue. Women can and have written longform pieces of this length and more. Secondly, for Goldberg to make a statement like this, to the press, as a member of the press, in 2019 is frankly baffling.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these writers whose voices have been elevated by The Atlantic. There’s the cover article about transgender children written by noted transphobic fear monger Jesse Singal. Then there’s the hiring of TERF and Brett Kavanaugh sympathizer Helen Lewis.
The Atlantic has also given a voice to right-wing columnist Kevin Williamson who said that women should be hanged for having abortions and compared black children to primates. Williamson was fired soon after.
So according to Goldberg, hiring transphobic, virulently racist and sexist men is not a problem because they can hit the 10,000 word mark. Women of the internet were quick to take The Atlantic and Goldberg to task over his ignorant and offensive comments:
Here’s The Atlantic’s @JeffreyGoldberg on giving girls a chance to write with the men.
— Robin Leigh (@robinskyleigh) June 6, 2019
Remember when Jeffrey Goldberg hired Kevin “women who get abortions should be hanged by the state” Williamson to write for the Atlantic.
— Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) June 6, 2019
This is from an interview about how The Atlantic wants to diversify its writers & editors – but Goldberg doesn’t seem to know that people other than white men write longform? https://t.co/OqyMgRxo4m
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) June 6, 2019
The most Jeffrey Goldberg end to this story possible:
In a story that is ostensibly about how The Atlantic is acknowledging sexism, Goldberg steps on a rake in the article and then accuses the woman who wrote it of being a bad journalist.
A+ work, Jeff 🙄 pic.twitter.com/4SWclyPA2Q
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) June 6, 2019
I wrote a 120,000 word book yet somehow the Atlantic thinks me incapable of writing a 10,000 word story? https://t.co/py1MGt1gWu
— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) June 6, 2019
— Jessica Schulberg (@jessicaschulb) June 6, 2019
Goldberg was trying to make a “leaky pipeline” argument about why there’s so little diversity in Atlantic cover story writers. But it’s based on a false premise. There are lots of women/POC who are already writing great 10k word cover stories. They’re just invisible to JG. https://t.co/Km1B3MDLsu
— Lindsay Beyerstein (@beyerstein) June 6, 2019
this kind of thinking among so many white male editors, despite clear evidence to the contrary, highlights the bubbles I have been spending most of my career fighting to break into: https://t.co/PwgalMwWr7 pic.twitter.com/YlOLelkGeX
— Karen K. Ho (@karenkho) June 6, 2019
I wrote an essay about the history of tomboys for the Atlantic’s object lesson series a few years ago and really did not enjoy the editing to say the least. I asked if I could use the phrase “white supremacy” instead of “racism” and the editor sent me this reply… pic.twitter.com/IBnZYpgXS8
— Elizabeth King (@elizabcking) June 6, 2019
This is obviously fatuous. But even more so when you consider that the Atlantic’s most famous cover stories of the last 10 years were largely written by women and black men. The End of Men. Why Women Can’t Have It All. The Case for Reparations. https://t.co/qtGlgnCfNe
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) June 6, 2019
The weird thing is I can think of writers who are not white men who CURRENTLY WORK FOR THE ATLANTIC who are more than capable of writing 10,000 word cover articles. https://t.co/L4eNYJzbaA
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) June 6, 2019
Hopefully Goldberg will learn something from this gaffe, and continue to work towards diversity in the newsroom.
(via Jezebel, image: The Atlantic)
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