In a story titled “Promoting based on potential: How The Atlantic is putting a lot more women in charge,” Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab gushed over the storied magazine’s rapid conversion from an old boy’s club into an exemplar of diversity.
The share of women in The Atlantic’s newsroom leadership roles has jumped to 63% currently from 17% three years ago, as 75% of new hires last year were women.
Nieman credited Goldberg, who was named to the top job in 2016, for intentionally hiring more women and people of color.
Goldberg got into trouble while trying to explain why more women and people of color are not writing cover stories for the magazine.
“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,” he said. “The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males.”
His comments sparked an online backlash from all sides, including men and women.
“If Jeffrey Goldberg thinks there’s a lack of women who can write 10k word features, then he’s astonishingly ignorant about his peers & he should step aside for a woman to replace him. Immediately,” tweeted writer Lisa Goldman.
“It’s really, really hard to suck as bad at your job as Jeffrey Goldberg and the journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males,” journalist Erik Hinton said.
Goldberg tried to clarify his remarks, saying he was “trying to explain (and obviously failed to explain) that white males dominate cover-story writing because they’ve had all the opportunities. We’re trying to change that at [The Atlantic].”
There also was some discussion about whether Goldberg was misquoted by Nieman Lab reporter Laura Hazard Owen. Vox’s Laura McGann said he had maligned Owen, who had recorded the conversation for accuracy.
While I don’t think Goldberg was misquoted, I also don’t think he was intentionally sexist or racist in explaining why more women and people of color don’t write cover stories.
If anyone is working to change the gender and racial composition of the newsroom, it’s him. He’s also working on getting a more diverse group of people writing cover stories.
Goldberg is about as woke as anyone can get, which comes across in the Nieman report. His wife, Pamela Reeves, advises Melinda Gates -- dare I describe her as “the wife of Microsoft founder and middle-aged white man, Bill Gates”? – on gender issues. He said his wife’s ideas have informed his management of the newsroom.
I also disagree with calls to fire Goldberg. That’s a knee-jerk reaction against a key ally in the push for greater equality among men and women in the workplace. His actions speak louder than words.