Aug
09
2001

Diversity Gap in Online Journalism: Yahoo! News Op/Ed skews male, white and right

Note: Please read the latest update to this alert.

While the Internet has revolutionized how some people get their news-- forexample, through alternative sites such as IndyMedia.org, AlterNet.org andCommonDreams.org-- corporate media still wield great influence over therange of journalistic debate online. Many web surfers rely on for-profitsearch engines and web directories to guide them to news items of interest.

Yahoo!'s daily journalism site Yahoo! News (http://dailynews.yahoo.com), for example, directs visitors to headline reports and columns largelydrawn from wire and syndication services, streamlining the search processand providing what is presented as a customizable one-stop shop for a quickand easy overview of news content online.

But while web directories' news sites can eliminate tedious searches, theyalso sometimes replicate the lack of diversity present in traditional mainstreammedia. The Yahoo! News Op/Ed section suffers from this problem.

Of Yahoo! News' 21 featured Op/Ed columnists, 62 percent are conservativeslike William F. Buckley, Robert Novak and Bill O'Reilly, 14 percent arecentrists like David Broder and Mark Shields, and 24 percent are progressivesor liberals like Molly Ivins, Robert Scheer and Ellen Goodman. (See http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/cm/cm/?ufor complete list.)

The gender and racial breakdown of Yahoo! News' Op/Ed roster also leavesmuch to be desired: 67 percent are male, 90 percent are white, and not oneprogressive person of color is a contributor. Additionally, five of theseven female columnists are conservatives, including Linda Chavez, Ann Coulterand Phyllis Schlafly.

The following are just some of the many writers regularly publishing left-leaningcolumns for national newspapers, magazines and syndicates. If Yahoo! Newsis interested in broadening the range of debate among their featured columnists--as well as opening their Op/Ed page up to more women and people of color--they might consider featuring such columnists as Farai Chideya ("Pop andPolitics"), Alexander Cockburn ("Beat the Devil"), Laura Flanders ("SpinDr. Laura"), Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez ("Column of the Americas"),Bob Herbert (New York Times), Derrick Jackson (Boston Globe), Naomi Klein(Toronto Globe and Mail), Sheryl McCarthy (Newsday), Salim Muwakkil (ChicagoTribune), Judy Mann (Washington Post), Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman("Focus on the Corporation"), Katha Pollitt (The Nation), Deb Price (DetroitNews) or Norman Solomon ("Media Beat").

This is, of course, just a sampling of the wide variety of progressive andliberal voices available.

Yahoo! News Op/Ed's op-artists list also cries out for more diversity: Ofthe 25 comics and editorial cartoonists featured in this section, not oneis a woman. While it's true that cartooning is largely a male-dominatedfield, a pool of talented and witty female artists is certainly availableto editors, from Pulitzer Prize winners editorial cartoonists Ann Telnaesand Signe Wilkinson to alternative cartoonists like Alison Bechdel ("Dykesto Watch Out For"), Barbara Brandon ("Where I Am Coming From") and NicoleHollander ("Sylvia").

When it comes to directing readers to resources available elsewhere on theInternet, some Yahoo! sections offer more balance than Yahoo! News' Op/Edsite: For example, the "Political Opinion" page (http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/Politics/Political_Opinion/) includes links to civil disobedience, socialist and anarchist websites.This diversity of viewpoints suggests that the lack of balance on Yahoo!News' Op/Ed page may be an oversight. Either way, the imbalance should becorrected.

ACTION: Encourage Yahoo! News to bring political balance, and gender andrace equity, to their list of contributing Op/Ed columnists and cartoonists.Feel free to mention names of columnists from the list above, or suggestyour own.

CONTACT:Yahoo! News editor:news-admin@yahoo-inc.comFax (408) 349-3301