Evening, folks. Thought I'd fire a thread together to respond to some points made badly and clumsily by @MichaelChaikof, a medical doctor and, apparently, hero to women everywhere (at least in his own mind). He had some questions regarding diversity in the NP Comment section.
The good doctor, who's hopefully better at medicine than Twitter, in particular wanted to know about woman in the NP Comment section. To prove his point, he helpfully screencapped a list of male reporters off the Post's contacts page and blamed them for his gripes.
The gentleman physician seemed not to realize that he was actually just sort of grabbing random names of employees who don't work for me, don't report for me, aren't in the Comment section, and aren't responsible for the editorial decisions he finds so concerning.
I pointed this out to him, and asked that he take down that tweet, since he's specifically identifying individuals as responsible for what he sees as a diversity problem, even though most of them have zero input. I think that's unfair, and said so. He feels otherwise, I guess.
Anyway, his errors and thin skin aside, I thought some of you might enjoy some discussion regarding diversity at the Post. I suspect some of what I say will apply more broadly across the Canadian media landscape, particularly in print media, but note I speak only for NP Comment.
Sometimes, I think we who have the strange pleasure of working in legacy media in 2020 take it for granted that people know as well as we do the dire fiscal constraints legacy media operates under. We live and breathe it, and we can forget most of you normals don't.
I sometimes make my bosses uncomfortable with my bad habit of just sort of saying the stuff we like to tiptoe around out loud. It's just part of my charm. Here's one of those uncomfortable truths: economically, we are FUCKED. These problems are long established. This ain't new.
I explained some of these challenges in a prior Twitter thread. I won't repeat the information here; if this interests you, please see this older thread.

But in short, most of the legacy media brands you're familiar with are basically screwed. https://twitter.com/mattgurney/status/1286474690404519936
Time for another one of those blunt talk moments: my stable of columnists is lopsidely male and white. This isn't new to me, it was identified as a priority a long time ago. But it's one priority among like a dozen others. An important one? Sure. But they all are.
There is simply no ability in our current economic state to simply add budget for new spending on an additional person, either full-time or freelance. Any time a new voice appears, or a new body is added, it's because someone else is no longer with us, on staff or freelance.
These staffing moves are not made on a one-to-one basis. Just for your reference, during my time at NP Comment (I began on staff in 2008), I've seen our full-time staff go from nine to three, while our workload has considerably increased.
Freelancers are similar — when one drops off the payroll, an editor doesn't get that entire lump sum back — some of it is attrited to the bottom line to address the eroding fiscal situation.
This puts constant downward pressure on the overall freelance budget and staffing envelope, but we also still have long-term contributors on the payroll, so we're stuck a bit between new worlds. A smaller number of people eat more and more of the budget.
I said before that diversity is important, but so are a lot of other things. One of those is keeping your biggest-name contributors happy and writing. Mine have actually been pretty good about taking less pay over the years, and that has allowed us to make some small moves.
But it's just math. Maintaining existing long-time assets as your budget shrinks leaves less for new initiatives. I cannot begin to tell you the time and mental energy that gets poured into trying to find ways to avoid this unavoidable.
The Post has been able to welcome some new contributors to the fold. I am hopefully some more will join us soon. This will nudge our diversity up a bit. But this is only possible, to be crass, because Robert Fulford retired and Christie Blatchford died.
Oh, and Andrew Coyne went to write for some other paper. Can't remember which one.

Anyway, that is basically what it takes to free up any money for adding new contributors. And believe me, the amount freed up does not equal what was once spent on those three.
Diversity is important. I don't just say that in the generic sense. Believe me, my life would involve a lot less bullshit like the good doctor's if I had a larger freelance budget. If I could spend my way (using Postmedia's money) to a less-stressful work life, I would. Trust me.
But diversity isn't the only priority, and we don't have the money and the internal editing resources to spend on all the things that need doing. Diversity may be YOUR top priority, but it's one of five or six of my top priorities. And they all are indeed top priorities.
If I have a small amount of money, what do I do with it? Do I spend it on an internal editing need, that the public won't see but that is crucial to our daily operations? Do I top up the pay of someone who's underpaid, and knows it, but does good work anyway?
Do I hire out a task for a larger-scale project? Do I assign some columns that involve some more news-reporting, and thus cost more? Do I add a new contributor? If so, what need to I address with them? Diversity is one, there are others.
And so on.

None of this is a lament. I chose the job, and I'm not chained to the (virtual) desk. I can do other things; eventually, I will. But the good doctor had questions about what's being done, and the answer is simple: everything that's possible, in slow increments.
As noted above, no one is more frustrated by the budgetary constraints of the job than me. But unlike people with a little axe to grind in line with their own agenda, I know what the problems actually are, what the solutions would be, and what's possible with what's at hand.
You can follow @mattgurney.
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