Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nation featured 491 male bylines in 2007 -- how many female ones?

In one of her "I just remembered I'm a woman!" posts at The Nation's Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel felt the need to weigh in that 20 million women (she labels them "unmarried," we'll just note that none are recognized as married by federal law) didn't vote in the 2004 elections and that, in 2006, the number rose to 30 million.

Oh, the humanity!

Of course, one could argue that anyone truly concerned about the number of women who vote would realizae it might be larger (and this is numbers, not proportions -- there are more adult women in the US than adult men) if women were actually invited to the table.

vanden Heuvel is both editor and publisher of The Nation magazine. So who's she had over for dinner?

For those late to our own party, in the summer of 2006, a number of women -- established and emerging writers -- brought to our attention that The Nation wasn't publishing women, that solid articles by women could be easily snapped up elsewhere but The Nation was consistently sending out a message of "Men Only." We hadn't noticed. We'd been focused on Iraq and hadn't noticed the imbalance (which did exist). They wanted the issue addressed at The Common Ills but (a) the site had already switched over to the Iraq focus (at the request of members) and (b) the year was half-over. Would it be okay if we monitored the imbalance at The Third Estate Sunday Review? It was. So we agreed that we would monitor 2007.

The December 24, 2006 edition featured "The Nation Stats." The plan was for that be a weekly feature but time issues and boredom with the magazine as well as mail delivery made that impossible. We did, however, cover every issue of the magazine for the first half of the year.

July 4th, our results went up: "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," and "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis." That went up at all sites and it was a feature written by all.

The results weren't 'pretty'. During that time frame (January 1, 2007 issue through the June 25, 2007 issue), the magazine published published 255 male bylines and 74 female ones. As was noted then, just to achieve equal numbers of women, the magazine would have to publish 181 female bylines in the second six months of the year.

To have an actual day off, for everyone, we didn't wait until July 4th to write our planned article. We worked on it throught June and nailed it on the last Sunday before the first of July. That was it, at last! A day offline for all.

What we hadn't counted on (and weren't aware of then) was that a 'professional' had passed on the plans for the feature. To be clear, the plans were announced here. Seven people from The Nation magazine e-mailed while we were doing "The Nation Stats." (Six mentioned the figure and said it was about time.) C.I. had spoken to friends with the magazine and the foundation about the article throughout (including -- as with this feature -- calling two to check the gender on some writers). But the magazine wasn't concerned until a 'professional' passed on Jess' e-mail to score points. We didn't learn that until after the 4th.

What we knew before the 4th was that Ben Wyskida, publicity hack for The Nation (and so much more interesting when he was just obsessed with sex and sarcasm) was writing us via the public e-mail account at The Common Ills. He wrote twice. In an insulting e-mail (where he blamed Ava and C.I. for the lack of women writers at The Nation and pulled the nonsense so many of his kind love to -- "glaring errors" which of course they never identify), he noted, "On the subject of women and the magazine; you should also know that the magazine is more than aware of the imbalance, and has taken steps in the last several months to recruit and bring in more women writers." Great. We were thrilled they were aware of the problem. We thought it would only take a month -- at most -- of "The Nation Stats" for the problem to be dealt with. It had taken longer than that but a July 2nd e-mail says it's known and being addressed, great. The whole reason the feature started was women were being shut out.

Ben went on to explain, "Between now and the Fall there are six new writers being added to our blogs, as well as new staff added to the editorial ranks." On the first point, we were (and are) covering the print edition -- the one people pay for. The one that has more prestige (and pays more money) than "online exclusives." So women bloggers might be nice in terms of online, but that really wasn't our focus. (We've received many e-mails pointing out that it hasn't translated that way online. Some have noted that Katha Pollitt now has her own blog at the site. She also has her own blog online, away from the magazine. But in terms of feedback here, Pollitt's the only improvement our readers have noticed in terms of online content at The Nation.) But editorial ranks? Along with Katrina vanden Heuvel at the top, we were aware of many women in positions at the magazine. Ben added, "Its worth noting, I think, the extent to which women ARE the leadership of the magazine -- from the editorial side (print, web, and almost all of our senior and executive editors) to the business side (President and the heads of advertising and fundraising) -- but there is an ongoing effort to bring in more women in to the magazine and the website." Again, our focus was not the website. It was women being published in the magazine.

But Ben's e-mail told us (a) the problem was known and (b) the problem would be addressed.

We're not going to call Ben a "liar" on this. We'll assume he thought it would be addressed. 181 bylines of women were needed to bring women up to an equal position to men. From the July 2, 2007 issue through the December 31, 2007 issue, 289 pieces with bylines were published.

It was possible that equality might be achieved. Not likely, but possible.

How did they fare?

Not good at all.

289 articles with bylines (many with more than one writer receiving billing for an article) and 236 men received bylines while only 75 women did. In terms of the simplest math, in July we were noting 255 men received bylines and only 74 women. That meant 181 more bylines were for males. "Improvement" and "awareness" translated into 75 women receiving bylines to 236 males. 161 more males received bylines. So all that talk of any improvement was really just empty talk. For issues dated 2007, The Nation published 491 male bylines to 149 female ones.

And Katrina vanden Heuvel wants to score points talking about low numbers of women voters?

It needs to be pointed out that the magazine now does a rip-off of Rolling Stones' Random Notes column and also regularly offers a comic. Those features weren't included in our study because they didn't exist at the first of the year. The weekly magazine added those in the October 15, 2007 issue. "Noted" (the rip-off) is unsigned. The comic? Apparently, women don't draw. Who knew? Had the male comic artists been included in the count, it would have been even worse. Could someone explain that? How, when you know you have a HUGE imbalance, you end up with a male cartoonist?

Maybe at the interviews, only 'single' women applied and it was thought they might not vote in the 2008 elections?

You might think women columnists helped beef up the numbers. There are three regular female columnists: Naomi Klein, Katha Pollitt and Patricia J. Williams. But that's not reality. They did help in one area: When you compare the first period studied with the second, the first obvious thing you note is that at least the magazine didn't (AGAIN) manage to go an entire issue without featuring the byline of any women.

Instead, you got the October 22, 2007 issue that included Katha Pollitt . . . and eleven men. You got the October 29, 2007 issue that included Patricia J. Williams . . . with eleven men. You got the November 5th issue with Katha Pollitt . . . and -- well you get the idea. The female columnists greatest contribution (in terms of our study) was in making sure that no issue was published where not a single woman received a byline -- a problem the magazine had in the first period.

The second thing you quickly notice is that (true in the first period as well), women have an easier chance of getting a byline if they're commenting on books, art or writing a (brief) poem. The "girls" are apparently thought to be able to handle that 'soft' terrain . . . if not much else.

The numbers also benefit from co-writing. Though not one issue feature two or more women sharing the byline of a single article, women could be paired up with men and, of course, men were paired up with men. Maybe they're all following Katrina vanden Heuvel's lead? She apparently needs a partner with a penis when it's time to co-write. Or maybe she just needs to be Queen Bee?


It bears noting that they ran the writings of a War Criminal. Before you rack your mind trying to figure out what woman we're talking about, please -- they didn't search so far and wide for women that they asked Mad Maddie Albright to write an article. However, they did make time for a former left-winger (former by many, many years) who is thought -- by the international community -- to have killed poet Roque Dalton. Jack Hirshcman (at CounterPunch) was among the many aghast by how low the magazine would stoop.

But maybe you have to resort to publishing War Criminals when you work so hard at refusing to publish women?

Having started the year featuring a 'book review' by her friend Pig Bergman which went several years back to find a man to praise after sharing his impressions of a whorehouse in Afghanistan and ripping apart the books of Ann Jones and Sarah Chayes (Jones is a conspiracy monger, to hear Pig tell it, how nice of vanden Heuvel to allow her centrist friend to rip apart the work of a Nation contributor on the pages of The Nation; Chayes isn't 'objective' -- apparently she never visited a whorehouse in Afghanistan), vanden Heuvel rushes in at the end of the year to pretend she's got any thoughts of women and wants to share her shock over the fact that a number of 'single' women don't vote. Women, single or not, make less money than men and are more likely to be responsible for young children.

vanden Heuverl spares them a moment of time only because they might be voters. Make no mistake, this SEXIST rag hasn't written one word about Tracy Barker or Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones testified before a Congressional committee last Wednesday about being drugged and gang-raped in Iraq. Tracy Barker submitted a written statement about being sexually harassed while working in Iraq and being sexually assaulted by a State Department employee. Both women were profiled on 20/20 two Fridays ago. (20/20 broadcast noted at this site here.) March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza was gang-raped by US soldiers, while two gang-raped her, she also had to endure hearing her parents and five-year-old sister shot in the other room by a third US soldier who then allegedly (both of the two have confessed and identified Steven D. Green as the instigator, a co-rapist and the murderer) killed her. By June 2006, these events were being reported in the mainstream media. An Article 32 hearing was held for those soldiers still in the service (Green was discharged before the crimes came to light, he will be tried in a civilian court -- scheduled to begin April 13th). In 2007, Alexander Cockburn would become the first Nation journalist to write about Abeer in the pages of the magazine. Katha Pollitt would then offer Abeer in a half sentence.

Last Tuesday, AP's Ryan Lenz described the events as "four U.S. soldiers who helped gang rape and kill a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in one of the war's worst atrocities. . . . The allegations of rape and murder at the hands of U.S. soldiers in July 2006 enraged the world community, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who demanded full accountability." Enraged the world community. One of the war's worst atrocities. Lenz, for the record, has covered the story repeatedly. The Nation, by contrast, hasn't. (That's in print, that's in 'online exclusives' and the magazine's 'blogs.')

That a weekly magazine, allegedly left (but look at all those New American Foundation contributors in a recent issue), wants to ignore Jones, Barker and Abeer (along with many other women) is disgusting. That a woman holds both titles of editor and publisher at said magazine is appalling. (By contrast, Mother Jones has written about it, Stephanie Mencimer wrote about it from DC -- of course Mother Jones has a strong bureau chief. Maybe The Nation could consider asking him to write for their magazi . . . Oh, wait. Never mind.)

As noted before, Ben accused Ava and C.I. of being responsible for the lack of women. Apparently, so almighty powerful are Ava and C.I. (some of our readers might agree with that description) that one comic critique from them and all women writers shrivel away. So they avoided noting the writing of any women done during the second period with the exception of the disgusting attempts by the magazine to tear apart Cindy Sheehan. They avoided, for instance, noting that Patricia J. Williams -- allegedly a law professor -- was off writing about Oprah when you'd think a law professor would be far more interested in War Crimes and not in offering bad attempts at humor (see especially August 27th's "The Protect Alberto Gonzales Act of 2007"). But maybe they misunderstood the title of Williams' columns? Maybe the "mad" in "The Diary of a Mad Law Professor" isn't meant to indicate that she's angry about the state of the world, maybe it's meant to indicate that her brain is cracked? She certainly writes (in scope and meandering nature) as if she's unhinged.

Ben maintained the magazine was aware of the issue of women writers not being printed by the magazine and they would be addressing it. The first period featured 181 more male bylines than female ones and the second period featured 161 more male bylines than female ones. At this rate of 'progress,' in four years the magazine might be able to publish only one more male than woman? Is that what we're supposed to assume?

The reality is that going from 181 more males to 161 more males is disgraceful when you admit there's a problem, when you admit you are aware of it and when you claim you are addressing it. Again, the post of comic illustrator opened up while they were allegedly aware of the problem and yet not one female has been given that page.

The Nation is supposedly a left magazine and yet they think it's acceptable to run 491 bylines by male in one year and only 149 by women. If you want to embrace that sop Katrina vanden Heuvel just tossed out to appear 'interested' in women, do so. Wallow in it. But have the guts and brains to grasp that it's sop and that a magazine where one woman holds the position of editor and publisher has repeatedly demonstrated throughout 2007 that it was no friend to women.
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