Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has launched a new project called NewsMavens in order to discover what would happen to the current affairs narrative if only women chose the news. The project will bring together female journalists from across Europe to curate the top news stories produced by their newsrooms on the NewsMavens platform, which went live last month. Google’s Digital News Initiative helped fund the project.
According to project lead Zuzanna Ziomecka, women occupy just 27 percent of management positions in European newsrooms.
“Though there have been numerous instances of male dominated or exclusively male news organizations, there has literally never been one made up entirely of women. At least not in Europe. So how can we really know if gender has an impact on the news?” she said. “And as long as we don’t know, what motivation does the news industry have to tackle its gender balance problem? We need to start by building a solid justification for change.”
Those participating in the project will have complete freedom over the news articles they submit to the website. However, each article a journalist recommends must be accompanied by a short summary and an explanation describing why they chose it.
The content can be found on the NewsMavens website and will eventually be distributed through an email newsletter as well. Ziomecka said they plan on publishing seven to nine stories everyday from Monday to Friday. Female freelancers will produce a weekend edition that reflects on the biggest issues and events of the week.
So far, NewsMavens has a dozen news organizations onboard, including the Irish Times, Austria’s Der Standard and Diene Korrespondentin in Germany. The goal, Ziomecka said, is to eventually engage around 30 news outlets.
“We’re finding that the ones who respond most strongly to the idea not only feel deeply about our mission, but also have an inherently innovative approach to media,” Ziomecka said. “People we have reached out to who are rooted in paper or the old way of running media have a difficult time understanding the relevance and potential of a project that is, at heart, an experiment based on content curation and collaboration.”
Ziomecka said their team has received tremendous support from men, whether they are heads of news organizations, publishers or educators.
“This has been the most eye opening experience and one that convinces us that gender equality is not just a woman’s issue anymore,” she said. “Those who take the time to notice understand that having women onboard makes both business and editorial sense.”