Gender, Race, and the News Industry

Journalist Geraldine MoribaMetamorphosis was at the center of last Wednesday’s Jan Term speaker series presentation.  Geraldine Moriba, the vice president for diversity and inclusion at CNN Worldwide and producer of CNN’s “In America,” discussed the concepts of race and gender as well as the changes in the news industry. 

Moriba, who has been working in the industry for over twenty years, discussed how women are often at a disadvantage in professional settings due to stereotypes.  “When a woman behaves a certain way they’re seen as aggressive, a man is seen as assertive,” Moriba said.

She also described how women are further challenged when they have families.  Speaking from personal experience, she described how she was treated differently after becoming a mother, despite returning to work full time.  “Suddenly I wasn’t getting those big assignments, I wasn’t on the crash team anymore; I was asked to do a story about overscheduled children,” she said.

When asked how her identity influenced her reporting, Moriba described how people would often be surprised when she showed up to interview them.  “The beauty of being in the industry before the internet was used as much as it is now, is that on the telephone you can’t identify my race, I can’t tell you how many times I showed up to someone’s house and they did a double take,” she said.   

Moriba also discussed how the advancements in technology, while great for research purposes, have lead to issues for female journalists online.  “Women should have the freedom to work and live online free of harassment and hate, but that doesn’t always happen,” she said. “Our social justice system hasn’t yet caught up to digital technology.”  

In order to overcome these obstacles and barriers, Moriba stressed the importance of leadership, especially in the newsroom.  “We have to do more than ask for things, do more than apply, we need to also start behaving and perceiving ourselves as leaders,” she said.