Leading women managers from the international news agencies EFE and AP and from the dailies USA Today and Diario Libre on Thursday stressed that women are key providers of diversity and inclusion and "make a difference" when it comes to media and the news.
The four-women panel gathered at the Inter American Press Association’s 77th General Assembly said the effect of women in management in the media was evident in the "final product," where their perspective is reflected in the chosen topics or in the people consulted to analyze facts or give opinions to create "critical mass" around issues such as gender-based violence.
The “Women in Command” panel was comprised of Agencia EFE’s president Gabriela Cañas; Ivett Chicas, Director, National and LatAm Markets at The Associated Press; Inés Aizpún, director of the Diario Libre (Dominican Republic), and Maribel Pérez Wadsworth, president of the USA Today Network and publisher of USA Today newspaper.
THE CHANNEL TO CHANGE THINGS
During panel discussions, it became clear that there are still few women who reach the top of journalistic companies, although they are proof that something is changing and that it is very important that those who are successful serve as models to other women.
Cañas, the first woman to hold the top post at EFE, a company founded in 1939 and which today is the leading news agency in Spanish, stressed that in a territory traditionally dominated by men, the inclusion of more women in the media is "fundamental" because they provide "a much more diverse outlook" and are the "channel to start changing things."
Cañas noted that a Reuters Institute study indicates that only 22% of managerial positions in journalistic companies in the world are held by women.
According to the Spanish journalist, women with managerial positions in the media provide "a more inclusive exercise of power," because they value more and incorporate "more naturally" the talent of other women.
Women also rely more on teams and in being "more open to listening to other people's opinions" and in being proactive in creating a "critical mass" in the face of serious problems in society such as gender violence, she said
Her opinions were shared by the other panelists, including Pérez Wadsworth, who is not only the first woman but the first Latina woman to reach her position in the Gannett group, which has more than a hundred outlets throughout the United States.
THE KEYWORD IS DIVERSITY
Pérez Wadsworth stressed that as a director she tries to never forget where she comes from and to assert her "sensitivity" towards those who have been "overlooked" or who suffer from deficiencies or are experiencing difficulties.
The USA Today Network chief confessed that she never imagined that she would get to that position, it did not seem possible and not because "I was not capable," but because she "did not have the model" of another woman, something whose importance Cañas also highlighted.
"We are watching movies, series and books in which journalists are always men," she said.
Chicas mentioned that in AP the inclusion of women in managerial positions has been a reality for years and mentioned that the next president, who will take office next January, is also a woman.
"Journalism is diversity, it is the most important thing, it gives perspective in every sense," said Chicas, who recounted her experience attending meetings in which all were middle-aged men and she felt that they were wondering what she was doing there.
Aizpún, a native of Spain who has lived in the Dominican Republic for 30 years and has been the head of the Diario Libre for a year, noted the changes towards equality and against machismo that have been experienced in journalistic newsrooms over that time.
She said that in her opinion, in the Dominican Republic, where 40% of households are headed by a woman, the reason why many women choose not to fight to reach the top is partly due to the fact that there are few in managerial positions in the media.
The panelists agreed that "bad leadership" has nothing to do with whether the person is a man or a woman, and agreed on the need for struggling media outlets to adapt to the digital transformation and to the needs of their readers. EFE