Invisible on TV: meet the women fighting for diversity in broadcast media

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Five women have filed a lawsuit against Spectrum News NY1 in New York City for discrimination based on sex and age.

“Unfortunately, after dedicating more than 100 years of award-winning journalism to NY1, our five clients were made clear that their careers were over,” wrote attorney Douglas Wigdor, who represents the five plaintiffs, in a statement, “as NY1 seems to believe that younger faces, when it comes to women, are a “better look” for results.

The lawsuit against Charter Communications, Inc. — filed by Roma Torre (60), Amanda Farinacci (40), Vivian Lee (44), Jeanine Ramirez (49) and Kristen Shaughnessy (50) —accuses the company, which acquired NY1 in 2016, hamper their careers by reducing airtime and promotions and being unresponsive to comments or criticism from experienced women reporters.

Torre, the main plaintiff in the case, alleges inequalities in wages and resources. According to the complaint, his salary “is less than half that of Mr. Kiernan and significantly lower than that of other male presenters with similar skills and similar or even less experience.” Torre also cites that she didn’t have access to the same studio upgrades or even the same makeup artist as her male counterparts – and that while her colleague, Patrick Kiernan, got more airtime and a studio above. the cutting edge of technology. As he got older in his role and was even celebrated publicly on his 20th birthday with NY1, she felt the network was pressuring women like her to give up their positions.

“We feel like we are being deported by rail,” Torre said in an interview with the New York Times. “Men age on TV with a sense of gravity, and we as women have an expiration date.”

But the lawsuit is also not about doing justice to NY1 alone. The five women have also launched a social media campaign calling for diversity in broadcast journalism, and in an open letter on Medium, they called on their allies to join them in what they call the Unseen on TV campaign. .

“We brought this complaint because we simply have no choice – we cannot and will not stand idly by while we are put aside and our complaints of abuse are ignored,” the women. “As we have dedicated our hearts and souls to our work, our respective careers have recently taken a marked decline as we have faced the harsh reality of gender discrimination and ageism.”

Referring to an opinion piece published in March by the New York Times, in which Nashville reporter Steve Cavendish detailed cases of discrimination affecting middle-aged women in recent history, the NY1 complainants also pointed out that they were not the first to be affected by such prejudices, although they hope to be the last.

“We are fighting for any woman who has reached a certain age and who has been intentionally marginalized, ignored and deemed less relevant because of her age,” they said. “We’re fighting for any woman who found herself signing a severance package that felt more like secret money, rather than a genuine thank you for years of loyalty and hard work. We fight for our colleagues who see what is happening but do not dare to speak out for fear of reprisals. We are fighting for ourselves and we are fighting for everyone.


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