The media today: The ‘Weinstein effect’ reaches journalism

Weeks after revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct broke, the impact of the “Weinstein effect” is being felt in newsrooms across the US and beyond.

Late last night, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that five women had accused veteran political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment when he was in a powerful position at ABC News. The alleged incidents occurred between the late 1990s and mid-2000s, but had not been previously disclosed. Halperin admitted to CNN that he had pursued relationships with women he worked with, and said in a statement, “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.” This morning, MSNBC announced that Halperin will be leaving his role as a contributor to the network.

ICYMI: You might’ve seen the Times‘s Weinstein story. But did you miss the bombshell published days after?

The allegations against Halperin reflect a growing trend across several industries in which women are speaking out about their experiences in the workplace. In the past week, Lockhart Steele was fired by Vox Media and Leon Wieseltier’s new magazine was cancelled after allegations of sexual harassment against both men were made public.

Wieseltier’s name appeared alongside dozens of other journalists on an anonymous spreadsheet titled “Shitty Media Men” that was widely circulated in the week after the Weinstein story broke. Though the document, which contains allegations ranging from “creepy” to sexual assault and rape, has been viewed by journalists in many newsrooms (including CJR’s), it has not been made public. For both legal and ethical reasons, journalists are cautious about publishing unsubstantiated claims. In a piece looking at how different outlets have responded to the list, Politico’s Michael Calderone and Jason Schwartz write, “It’s rare that news organizations can still act as a gatekeeper for information given the ability for emerging media players, perhaps less bound to traditional newsroom standards, to publish at will.”

ICYMI: The NYT tweet on books by women that “didn’t play well”

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It’s too early to say whether a sea change has come in how the media and other industries address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. But in the weeks since Weinstein, it feels like something has shifted in the culture. As more women come forward to share their stories, industries are reckoning with a problem too long ignored, and journalism is no exception.

Below, more on the reverberations from Weinstein, in journalism and beyond.


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Pete Vernon is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.