New York Times, don’t hire another white dude columnist

It will come as no surprise to our readers that the nation’s op-ed pages have a bit of a “woman problem” on their hands. Or, well, they’ve got a bit of a “everybody who isn’t white and male” problem on their hands. The stats are straight forward and frankly shocking, given that it’s 2011 and women are kicking ass and taking names in so many intellectual arenas: Women make up only 24.4 percent of the columnists at eight major syndicates, a number that’s barely moved since 1999, when it stood at 23.7 percent. What’s more, four of the nine most widely distributed female columnists (published in 50 or more papers) are conservatives who frequently disparage feminism and feminist positions. A May 2008 Rutgers University study found that 97% of op-eds by scholars in the Wall Street Journal are written by men.

The New York Times has lost two of its columnists in the last few months, the latest of which is the beloved Bob Herbert, who had a great track record of writing about issues near and dear to feminists. So The Op-Ed Project and Feministing decided to seize the day on this one, and created this petition to ask The New York Times to add a new columnist to the roster who represents the true diversity of our nation. Here’s our friendly request:

Greetings New York Times Editorial Staff,

We, the undersigned, pledge our solidarity with The New York Times editorial staff as they search for a new columnist to replace the venerable Bob Herbert, who contributed so much to the nation’s awareness of issues as varied and important as the trafficking of girls and women, poverty, and education.

We know that the quality of public debate—and by extension, the quality of our lives as influenced by that debate in countless, critical ways—is exponentially enhanced by a diversity of voices and perspectives. At present, we suffer from a chorus of voices that is too often homogenous. A participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common—whether members of Congress, or writers on the op-ed pages. From October to December 2010, 80% of op-eds in The New York Times were written by men.

As such, we support and encourage the Times to select a writer who embodies some of the demographic categories and life experiences most left out of the op-ed pages at present—including women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities etc.

We look forward to hearing the fresh and wise perspective that you introduce through your next selection for columnist and appreciate your commitment to diversifying the nation’s op-ed pages.


The Op-Ed Project
and friends

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