The Center for Investigative Reporting is Trying to Level the Media Playing Field

by Samantha Mercado

Journalism and filmmaking have traditionally been viewed as a man’s game, with men dominating the field. Women made up only about 36.1% of journalists in the print and broadcast world, according to The Status of Women in the U. S. Media 2014 research report done by the Women’s Media Center. The number is even lower for women in film: 17% of women held ‘behind the scenes roles’ in the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016, according to San Diego State University’s Celluloid Ceiling report. It’s tough enough for women to break into big industries like journalism and filmmaking but it can be even harder to make a name for yourself in specialized fields within these industries like investigative reporting and documentary filmmaking.

Photos courtesy of Women’s Media Center (left) and San Diego State University (right).

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) recognized this gap and decided to do their part in trying to increase representation for women in the media. The appropriately titled Glassbreaker Films initiative will bring together five female filmmakers to produce a documentary series centered around women. The filmmakers chosen are: Penny Lane, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Dawn Porter, and Ann Shin.

That’s not all the initiative plans to do, it also includes a program for ‘filmmakers-in-residence’ which includes the guidance and help of a digital video team. Within about six months we can expect to see some of the short films coming out of this project. Some notable filmmakers in residence are Débora Silva, Olivia Merrion and Emily Harger.

While many of the opportunities presented with CIR are for adult/young adult journalists the organization has an outlet for young ladies in high school as well. Partnering with New York Public Library’s BridgeUp program, CIR is creating a film education project for girls in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project would train the girls in journalistic practices and provide them with mentors to help guide them.

CIR’s initiative and partner projects are being funded by a grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation. CIR trustee Kim St. Clair Bodden said in a statement to Variety “Helen, more than anyone, operated her whole career at the juncture of empowering women of all ages, encouraging journalistic boldness and strong, sustainable business outcomes. CIR is the perfect environment for realizing and sustaining that dream and for honoring her legacy.”


Top Photo via Twitter @3ative

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