While the sexual harassment scandal has unfolded following the takedown of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Columbia Journalism Review has been gathering information on the sexual harassment policies that are in place in newsrooms nationwide. The publication has conducted surveys of journalists and human resources professionals, along with freelancers.
“Over the course of three weeks, hundreds of staff and freelance journalists filled out the surveys and dozens, primarily women, wrote to us with stories about being sexually harassed in their current and previous newsrooms,” CJR reports. “Many made specific allegations that, with permission from the journalists, CJR will report out in the coming weeks.”
Among those who responded, “Sixty-six percent of participating staff journalists said their companies had clear sexual harassment policies — a good sign,” CJR reports. “But just 21 percent strongly agreed that they understood those policies. Twenty-two percent said they disagreed when asked if they understood their newsroom’s policy, and 12 percent strongly disagreed.”
Additionally, “Most staff journalists said they attended sexual harassment training as part of a new employee orientation, but 73 percent said that they’d never been required to attend sessions outside of orientation where policies were formally discussed,” CJR reports. “And a whopping 96 percent of freelancers said the newsrooms with which they work had never shared copies of their sexual harassment policies with them. None of the 20 freelancers who said they physically worked onsite in newsrooms at least three times per month have ever been given copies of harassment policies.”
The report also notes: “Thirty-four percent of staffers strongly agreed when asked if they feel safe at work (another 35 percent answered ‘agree’ and 11 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed). But a sobering 53 percent of participants still said they either didn’t know how to file a report, or were unsure if they would know how to do so, suggesting that media organizations are failing to adequately communicate with their employees.”
We encourage readers to click on the link above to CJR to read the full report.