I'm taking a huge breath, after just hanging up with the NYT Metropolitan Desk Editor, who told me, "You can email a pitch, but we're going to say no." I thought to myself, "I hope she doesn't have kids."
After years and 50 articles with the New York Times, it's been my experience that only 1 in about 30 females, editors, reporters and photographers, has ever been close to kind. Among males I have dealt with on the phone at the NYT, 100% have been even pleasant. I find this to be an interesting fact of my experience at the NYT, as a "freelancer", with over 50 bylines in the paper since 1998.
However tough an economic environment, especially for print media, there seems to be an unfortunate bias towards women by women employed by the NYT. After my experience on the phone with women at the NYT, perhaps the worst was with a regional editor, who told me a few years ago, "Haven't I already talked to you and told you no once?"
At the land of no, men can be fierce indeed, but at the NYT, but I have found there to be an autopilot chip-on-the- shoulder in operation directly following female to female contact. It's an unfortunate liability to be a woman dealing with any women at the NYT, and I can't quite figure it out.
I highly doubt the NYT would admit to anything resembling a bias, but my now final sojourn with the Old Gray Lady has undoubtedly taught me otherwise. Despite intense loyalty, good reporting and story ideas, and experience, women appear to really have to pit themselves against other women for some reason.
I remember what my mentor, Barth Healy, who has now passed, told me about this and his words will ring true to me forever. "There's always time to be kind." And I'm still here, waving good-bye to what was once a paper I respected and worked hard for.
At the risk of inviting the trite "disgruntled employee" perspective, I hope also to invite truth through experience. Never believe anyone who tells you that you can't do something, or you won't because you choose to.
copyright Elizabeth Adams Miller, 2009