UNITY has released a “seed list” of 100 outstanding journalists that only slightly resembles New York University’s list of “The 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years,” which was released Monday. A couple of names occupy both (e.g., Ed Bradley, Christiane Amanpour), but UNITY’s list is really a response to what it calls “the lack of diversity” on the original list, which included 22 women, 8 African-Americans by our count and no Asian Americans or Latinos.
Such arguments illustrate the natural tension of lists, which are usually launched with a comment that they’re intended to spur discussion. And even if everyone hates your list, or your award nominations, they have to pay attention to argue about your decisions.
So Talking Biz News has a great point when it says there aren’t enough “pure” business journalists on the list. And so does Jeffrey Toobin, when he celebrates his mother, ABC and CBS reporter Marlene Sanders, inclusion on the list: “In many ways, her toughest task was convincing her male bosses that the [women's] movement deserved to be covered at all, and she confronted appalling sexism at many stages of her career,” he writes. (But…where’s Nancy Dickerson?)
I haven’t thought about the National Magazine Awards for years, but the dust-up that followed Tuesday’s list of finalists, which excluded women from five categories, forced me to pay attention. The less their creators appear to think these things through, the more newsworthy they become.
Related: “Why is it that the nominated men wrote about such a variety of topics that don’t seem to be strictly defined by the equipment they sport from the waist down?” (Mother Jones) | “The digital leader board channels us straight to the choices everyone has already made. This isn’t to argue that we should do away with filters and lists, but the system now does not work if we want diversity of opinion and tastes.” (The New York Times/Bits)
Correction: I misread Toobin’s article; his mother was on NYU’s list.