Tuesday, June 17, 2008

LIVE BLOGGING: Introductions and Insta-Polling

Soundbites to Solutions Conference - Post #1

A full house. The panelists have gathered. Pat Mitchell, co-chair of the WMC’s board and President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, is introducing. Mitchell notes, “You cannot escape the fact that the media is full of examples of the kind of stereotyping about women that we had all hoped had disappeared in the ‘enlightened’ 21st century. I think the same can be said about race.”

Carol Jenkins, President of the WMC, notes that the media was totally unprepared for the first woman, the first man of color, and now the oldest man(!) running. ”What they took as their solution was to embed pundits. But those pundits’ opinions have blurred the facts,” says Jenkins, noting that we’re here today to sort out the soundbites and get to the solutions.

Marie Wilson, President and Founder of The White House Project, reminds us that you can’t be what you can’t see. The WHP’s focus on studies of the media–remember that one that found male talking heads outnumber female talking heads 9 to 1?–shares the WMC’s mission of getting more women in the media.

Dori Maynard, President of the Maynard Center for Journalism Education, asks that our intent today be on understanding each other. To that end, there will be instant polling of the audience, to find out who is in the room, and what participants think. The responses will be a catalyst not only for the panelists, but also for a report that will be prepared following today’s event.

Commence instant polling! Here’s the breakdown from the first few questions:

(The racial breakdown appeared on the screen way too fast - I didn’t get it, sorry!)

The audience here is 91 percent female and 8 percent male (1 percent other). 51 percent of those here make over $100,000.

And now, the clincher:

Did the media demonstrate an ability to accurately report and inform across the fault lines of race? 81 percent say no. Across class? 76% say no. Across gender? 92% say no. Across age? 68% say no.

Next up: the panels. The first one this morning will focus on politics (”Candidates, Campaigns, and the Politics of Bias,” and the second will focus on media (”How the Media Influence and Reflect Political Realities”).

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