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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

San Francisco Examiner Sure Seems to Love Hiring White Dudes

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Them's the facts
  • Them's the facts

Why the San Francisco Examiner gives its lone female columnist, Melissa Griffin, a full body photo to accompany her prose is one of those questions you ask, but then you kinda don't want to know the answer.

As we all can see, in contrast, the newspaper's male columnists have nothing more than traditional homely mug shots. Is the Ex that desperate to be the New York Post? Or is there something more to it? 

If this obvious and embarrassing disparity isn't enough to make you question the Ex's intentions or at least cringe a little, here is something that might: The last nine hires in the Ex's newsroom have been men.

White men, that is.

In full disclosure, your humble author previously worked at the Ex, and even then there was only a sparse amount of estrogen in the newsroom. But it was not nearly as mancentric as it is today. We did some research, and found that of a small staff of about 35 editorial workers, only eight are female.

And none of these women have been recent hires -- all have worked there for longer than two years. So while some women have left in the last year, they are being replaced by male employees.

click to enlarge Examiner sports columnist
  • Examiner sports columnist
Ironically, the newspaper's chief executive who is signing off on these hires is a woman. This fact piqued our interest. So SF Weekly contacted the Examiner's executive editor, Deirdre Hussey, to find out why the shortage of women.

Hussey did not respond to our questions. But we did get some insight from experts at the esteemed Poynter Institute. Jill Geisler, a senior faculty member who specializes in leadership and management, says she finds it "surprising" that there isn't more diversity in the San Francisco newsroom.

"It's an odd coincidence that every hire [of the last nine] would be men," she says. "That's suggesting that the only qualified people happened to be men."

The number of women in the Examiner's newsroom falls well below the national average. According to a 2011 American Society of News Editors study, 34 percent of newsroom staff nationwide were female. But what's even more unsettling is that women have been leaving newsrooms at a faster rate than men, according to a 2002 American Press Institute study.

Obviously, Geisler isn't out to indict the leadership at the Examiner -- for all she knows, it could be making job offers to women who turn them down. But she was confident about saying this man-only trend sends a clear message to the other newsroom staff.

"If you hire nine men in a row, and if you are losing women and gaining men, you should be asking yourself ... is there something about this environment that makes it inhospitable for  women?" she says.  

The buzz on the street is that another female reporter recently left, which means there will presumably be a vacancy. If the Ex does end up filling that with yet another male, the least it could do is show us some man boobs for a change.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert has been Online News Editor for SF Weekly since 2010. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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