Recently founded by a collective team of empowered journalists, the “Press Forward” movement is aimed at creating a newsroom environment that is free from sexual harassment and misconduct. The initiative launched in early Dec. of 2017, around the same time that Time magazine announced the Silence Breakers as “Person of the Year.”
The three main components of the Press Forward mission are action, accountability and change. The organization pushes for action in the form of zero-tolerance policies for sexual harassment in the workspace. This goes hand-in-hand with the journalism industry taking accountability for its faults. The industry must reflect on how well it is adhering to harassment laws and create behavioral workplace standards. Upon this reflection, the goal would be to implement a plan for change in the industry’s procedures and standards of sexual misconduct prevention in the newsroom.
It is important to note that, while sexual misconduct has primarily claimed female victims, this is not a gender-specific issue. In fact, the Press Forward movement makes a point to emphasize the inclusion of men in the fight for a safer workplace. One of the main values listed on the organization’s website is as follows: “We understand that many good men are suddenly feeling unsure about appropriate behaviors when interacting with female colleagues, and we seek to create safety for them by being a source of education for all men and women on the topic.”
Courtesy: Press Forward
The members of this movement envision a future in which the journalism industry upholds standards of respect and integrity in the workplace. The goal is for fellow journalists to collaborate in a way that is safe and free of inappropriate behavior. This dream is in place, not only for current journalists but also for future professionals in the industry.
In an interview on March 16, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota sat down with some of the founders of the Press Forward movement. She asked the group, “What would you tell college students today who say that they want to become journalists and are idealistic? What would you tell them about this business?” One of the organization’s co-founders, Gloria Riviera, replied, “You deserve to be in a place where you can succeed without conditions, where your potential will be supported, where your focus will be your job, and that’s it.” Another one of the movement’s co-founders, Eleanor McManus, added, “Just because you’re ambitious, hard-working and, you know, excited about your chosen career, that — it doesn’t mean you should be exploited for having those qualities.”
That message is very important for aspiring journalists and newsroom professionals. Just because sexual misconduct has become such an issue, it should not dissuade anyone from pursuing their dreams. In fact, it should encourage young journalists to band together and create a workplace that is free of intimidation and malpractice.