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Gallery: News Leaders ASNE-APME-APPM News Leaders Conference

Embracing the conversation about harassment and discrimination in the newsroom

In the average, fast paced newsroom, it's easy to overlook an extra comma, the stained carpet beside the coffee machine and sometimes, the "handsy" co-worker.

Jean Hodges, senior director of content at GateHouse Media, spoke about eliminating harassment and discrimination in the media Tuesday at the News Leaders 2018 conference. There, she discussed the importance of raising awareness and concern for survivors of workplace misconduct in the newsroom.

Hodges shared her experience working with the Power Shift Project in January. The Power Shift Project was created in 2017, a year after the #MeToo movement gained traction, to eliminate harassment and sexual assault in newsrooms. This project allows newsrooms to become trainers or allow trainers to be booked for the newsroom, to help journalists learn the curriculum, according to its website.

The curriculum is organized around three pillars, including critical thinking, courageous conversations and building cultures of respect and trust.

Hodges said interns, freelancers and part-time employees are at most risk to harassment and discrimination. She said it’s important for survivors to feel comfortable reporting incidents like these, especially to higher ups. Then, higher ups need to lead the charge and follow through to create a safe newsroom for everyone.

Mizell Stewart, vice president for news operations for Gannett and USA TODAY Network, said the history of wanting to keep human resources (HR) as far away from the newsroom as possible is “a system that has enabled harassment.”

Sally Buzbee, executive editor of The Associated Press, agreed and said keeping HR informed allows for easier conversations about harassment and discrimination when they occur.

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