We Have Her Back

Advice for Newsrooms

Women who run for office are often subject to sexist and misogynistic attacks – and this historic election year is no exception, according to a new report from TIME’S UP Now.

We’ve had enough. It’s time for reporters and the public to pause and interrogate what they are seeing and hearing. And it’s time for women to be judged on their merits and the substance of their policies – not whether they are “likeable” or what they are wearing. To hold the media accountable, TIME’S UP Now offers the following advice for newsrooms:

  • Do not invoke identity, such as race or gender, in routine coverage of politicians.
  • Debunk political attacks steeped in racism and sexism, rather than simply reporting on them. Some ethicists recommend not repeating racist and sexist comments in your reporting at all, as coverage can irresponsibly elevate their importance.
  • If you must cover attacks rooted in racism or sexism, make it clear in the headline and in your coverage that these attacks are, in fact, racist (“birtherism”), sexist (“nasty”) or plainly false (“ineligible”).
  • Ensure editorial standards work closely with correspondents, producers, anchors, opinion editors, and bookers to diversify sources. Understand that audiences and readers make no distinction between the objectivity of reporters and editorialized comments made by analysts or contributors (on-air or in print). Create Editorial policies and processes that address discriminatory comments or remarks that appear in your news outlet, such as anchors calling out inappropriate remarks real-time.
  • Cover women leaders the same as men, and depict women leaders as the professionals they are. Use gender-neutral language whenever possible and avoid characterizing women candidates in relation to men (“wife of” or “female version of”) or qualifying race or gender.
  • Encourage dialogue in the newsroom to evaluate whether there is overt or coded bias in the language you use or statements delivered by sources. Respect opposing views and seek more neutral word choices whenever possible. For example, our society currently does not apply attributes of leadership, such as ambition, evenly to men and women. And remember: whether someone is “liked” or “likeable” is not news.
  • Engage third-party experts, such as The Press Forward, the Women’s Media Center, and the International Women’s Media Fund to evaluate newsroom guidance, policies, and processes. These experts can help build safe and fair newsroom environments that foster productive dialogue on these issues.