The Power Shift Summit Is Over But The Work Is Not

The Power Shift Summit

From left: Carolyn Ryan, assistant managing editor, The New York Times; Madhulika Sikka, media consultant and public editor, PBS; Loren Mayor, chief operating officer, NPR; Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, senior vice president of news administration, CBS News, and Jill Geisler, Loyola University Chicago’s Bill Plante Chair of Leadership and Media Integrity. (Kevin Allen/Newseum)

Powerful themes including changes in sexual harassment training, providing solution-based alternatives for employees facing abuse and a renewed emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness in America’s newsrooms emerged Tuesday at the Newseum’s Power Shift Summit.

The summit, a hallmark event in the Newseum’s ongoing programs about diversity and combating sexual misconduct in news organizations, gathered top-level leaders from journalism and media organizations in three main sessions.

Watch clips from the program or view photos from the summit.

Assessing Where We Are Now

The first session set the tone for the day by identifying issues at the root of sexual misconduct, such as:

  • Compliance training around sexual harassment is often seen as ineffective and merely as a measure for an employer to avoid being sued.
  • Interns and lower-level employees are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment from senior colleagues and need more protection.
  • Steps need to be taken to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in newsrooms, seen as part of the process of making newsroom staff and management at all levels more sensitive to issues around sexual misconduct, and empower all staffers in the effort to combat abuse and discrimination in the workplace. Human resources representatives as well as journalists participated in this discussion, signaling organization-wide commitments to stamping out sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Reporters Behind the Power Shift

Journalists whose reporting led to the current reckoning around sexual harassment in the media spoke, including The Washington Post’s Amy Brittain, CNN’s Oliver Darcy and The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi. They discussed the need for more in-depth reporting on systemic factors that enable sexual misconduct in the workplace.  Press Forward’s Lara Setrakian spoke of her difficult decision to go public with her story of being harassed by political analyst Mark Halperin.

Changing the Systems

This session took a critical look at workplace cultures and how they enable sexual misconduct as well as engaged the group in brainstorming about solutions. Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico spoke about the ripple effect of modeling good leadership behaviors. Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post talked about the importance of mentorship and developing a talent pipeline of future leaders. Representatives from the National Women’s Law Center and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission spoke about the fact that many employees are unaware that sexual harassment is illegal and don’t know what legal resources are available to victims of sexual misconduct. The session ended with a wrap-up of conclusions and action items for attendees to take back to their workplaces.

The #PowerShiftSummit yielded important takeaways that will be compiled in a report to be released later this month. We’re proud that the Freedom Forum, the Newseum and the Newseum Institute were able to convene this group of media leaders and change-makers, setting the stage for a discussion that will lead to real, measurable change in the news industry and beyond.

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