Adrienne LaFrance Jeffrey Goldberg The Atlantic

How The Atlantic is putting a lot more women in charge » Nieman Journalism Lab

It’s not a shocker that a lot has changed at The Atlantic because it was based all the best way back in 1857. Perhaps more shocking, although, is how much has modified there in simply the last two and a half years.

In 2016, women made up just 17 % of editorial leadership at The Atlantic. In the present day, women account for 63 % of newsroom leaders (see the masthead right here; although this story focuses on the editorial aspect, there are a lot of women on the enterprise aspect too). In 2018, 75 % of latest newsroom hires have been women.

This isn’t an accident. The Atlantic — like other news organizations which have sought to diversify their staffs, although there’s nonetheless a ton of work to be finished — has been intentional about hiring more women and other people of shade underneath the management of Jeffrey Goldberg, who was appointed editor-in-chief in 2016. Adrienne LaFrance, who joined The Atlantic as a tech editor in 2014, has risen via the ranks to grow to be the publication’s government editor, the primary time in The Atlantic’s 162-year history that a lady has held that position.

(Adrienne is also a former Nieman Lab staffer, like her Atlantic colleagues Shan Wang and Megan Garber.)

And it’s value noting that it was in 2017 that a majority stake in The Atlantic was purchased by the Emerson Collective, which has fueled a hiring spree and is, in fact, run by a lady, Laurene Powell Jobs.

I spoke with Goldberg and LaFrance about how they’re interested by the hiring and promotion of women at The Atlantic. Right here’s a few of their recommendation.

Prioritize it.

Adrienne LaFrance: It’s very straightforward to say that you simply care about variety or having women or individuals of shade in leadership. It’s a totally different factor to truly make it happen. With each single rent you make, you’re making a selection. Our objective is to rent the easiest journalists for whatever position it might be and not restrict ourselves to only half the inhabitants.

Jeffrey Goldberg: [Women in editorial leadership] is a top-tier precedence for me. It’s in the basket of the highest 2 or three things I’ve to get accomplished. We now have some opportunities for enlargement — just like the [post-Emerson uptick in hiring] — that give me the room to maneuver.

Once you’re being sexist, acknowledge it.

Goldberg: I’m lucky in that I’ve my very own personal gender advisor. My wife [Pamela Reeves] advises Melinda Gates on gender issues. She launched me to the concept — which you don’t need to be married to a gender specialist to know — that women are judged on expertise and males are judged on potential.

Once I actually considered that early on as editor, it helped me to take a look at the world in a totally different approach. I began to look, inside and out of doors the organization, at who didn’t fit conventional fashions of what editorial leadership may seem like. I studied their potential, their innate leadership talents, their competence and ambition — and I assumed, I’m surrounded by superb expertise, and it’s under-utilized expertise. Adrienne is a good case in point, however we’ve completed this now in all probability a dozen occasions or more.

It’s cognitive. It serves the perform of leveling the enjoying subject, however the problems are cognitive and cultural. It’s understanding women and their potential roles inside organizations totally different than previously.

LaFrance: Once I started right here at The Atlantic in 2014, once I turned the tech editor, there have been no women who have been more senior than me [in any section or in the print magazine]. Once I turned editor of the website, there had by no means been a lady in charge of the website earlier than. Across the newsroom, we’re putting women in positions that they’ve simply by no means held before. The only strategy to put women in management is to do it for the first time.

Embrace discomfort and keep in mind: It is going to make your group better.

Goldberg: My number-one aim is to seek out the perfect leadership talent to run The Atlantic. It’s in The Atlantic’s greatest interest, it’s in my greatest curiosity. By opening up the chances of youthful individuals, women, and other people of shade, by imagining their rise in a deliberate approach, I’ve simply widened the pool of potential management. So it serves The Atlantic.

There’s no quota system right here, but there’s a lot of latent leadership talent inside The Atlantic and there’s a lot of latent talent in quality print journalism, usually.

LaFrance: We clearly want extraordinary journalists in each place. In some instances, perhaps, the hiring managers are male and may see themselves in the [male] candidates, nevertheless it’s about making sure that you simply’re wanting outdoors of your personal experience and your personal career trajectory to think about what numerous paths and skillsets individuals might convey to the position. It’s just all the time ensuring that in your pool of finalists you have got variety, you have got really robust finalists who are totally different from each other.

At occasions, meaning you must maintain going back many times, and hiring takes longer than it’s your decision.

This is just adopting a mindset that the work is by no means finished. It’s not like you hire women or put women in charge and then say, We did it! It’s a continuous state, working towards variety.

Goldberg: Writ giant, our aim is high quality right now. We’re main as much as a subscriber model [to launch this fall]. We have now to make more, better journalism all the time. I feel we’re doing higher than we ever have and I don’t know tips on how to link that to the gender issues, but I feel variety sharpens the thoughts.

We’re about 160 individuals at this operation now, not including freelancers. I feel having a very numerous editorial group — numerous in gender, race, age, ideology — whenever you put all these individuals in the same room in the identical organization, especially inside a nation that’s so fractured and polarized, I feel you’re going to create moments of pressure and discomfort. I feel you’re additionally going to create a lot sharper journalism.

Twenty, 30, 40 years in the past, The Atlantic was principally a bunch of white guys and a few women in serving to positions. I’m positive for them it was very snug, however they have been just not being challenged in a day by day approach. Their assumptions weren’t being challenged, their story choice wasn’t being challenged, the choice about who gets to put in writing stories wasn’t being challenged. And now we stay in a state of affairs inside this group where, I hope, each assumption is overturned, and each determination is mentioned and dissected by means of numerous prisms, together with race, gender, ideology, and age.

And I feel every part will get higher [with more women], by the best way. I used to cowl the Center East and I feel the thing that hamstrings Center Japanese nations more than virtually anything is that they have a tendency to not tap into half their population’s potential and intelligence. When half the individuals are women they usually’re just not being used for the betterment of society, you’re not going to be a dynamic country. It’s the same precept applied to any subject, anywhere.

Acknowledge the place you might have fallen behind.

LaFrance: Our most core, loyal readers are disproportionately male. When you take a look at our general viewers, it’s more evenly cut up, however for those who take a look at simply probably the most lively, loyal readers, they’re more male. We are actively eager about easy methods to convey in more women as readers and subscribers. I feel you do this simply by way of elevating quality, usually. We need to convey the neatest, greatest journalists throughout all of the subjects we cowl and we consider that if we do this, that may reach women as well as men.

Goldberg: We proceed to have a drawback with the print journal cowl stories — with the gender and race issues in terms of cowl story writing. [Of the 15 print issues The Atlantic has published since January 2018, 11 had cover stories written by men. —Ed.]

It’s really, actually arduous to put in writing a 10,000-word cowl story. There are usually not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are virtually solely white males. What I have to do — and I haven’t completed this enough yet — is once more about experience versus potential. You possibly can take a look at individuals and be like, nicely, your experience is writing 1,200-word pieces for the online and you’re nice at it, so good going!

That’s one solution to strategy it, however the different solution to strategy it is, huh, you’re really good at this and you have a lot of potential and also you’re 33 and you’re burning with ambition, and that’s great, so allow us to put you on a deliberate pathway toward writing 10,000-word cover stories. It won’t work. It typically doesn’t. But we have now to be very deliberate and efficient about creating the area for more women to develop that specific journalistic muscle.

The more women you’ve in management, the more women you’ve in management.

Goldberg: One of many issues I’ve observed is that the more women there are in management, the better it is for women to be in leadership. There’s this concept of important mass — in the event you’re a corporation that’s, say, 10 males in management and 1 or 2 women, women need to do a lot more just to stay in that leadership group. They need to do a lot more advocacy for office points that males won’t be excited about.

[One case in point is the story of how women at The New York Times fought successfully for better parental leave, a story told in this week’s episode of The Double Shift, a podcast by 2017 Nieman Fellow Katherine Goldstein. —Ed.]

It was necessary for me not to just increase up and promote a couple of key women. I need to create circumstances in which women and other people of shade don’t really feel like they should characterize all the time, they will just do their jobs.

No one comes right here to be the advocate for gender parity, the advocate for the inclusion of people of colour. They arrive right here to do journalism. We’ve to not simply promote a few stars, but distribute this extensively in order that burden-sharing turns into tolerable inside a corporation.

LaFrance: It’s beautiful once I go searching on the colleagues of mine who’re indispensable to our institution’s success, and who wouldn’t have been here in an earlier era. I wouldn’t have been right here in an earlier era. It’s fairly exceptional to me simply to see how much can change in case you resolve to do it, and then do it.

Graphic design students Mackenzie Robinson and Bethany Faulkner created a “copycat” Atlantic magazine for a faculty venture. This art is from their cover.