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Sunday, September 9, 2012

'Good Girls Revolt': Story Of A Newsroom Uprising

Audio for this story from Weekend Edition Sunday
The Good Girls Revolt
The Good Girls Revolt
How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace

In the 1960s, Lynn Povich worked at Newsweek — where she became part of revolution.

"At Newsweek, women were hired on the mail desk to deliver mail, then to clip newspapers, and if they were lucky, became researchers or fact checkers," Povich tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer, whom she knows personally. "All of the writers and reporters were men, and everyone accepted it as, that was the way the world was — until we didn't."

Povich's new book, The Good Girls Revolt, tells the story of how the women sued their bosses and changed the workplace. The first spark that set off the rebellion was in 1969 — five years after the Civil Rights Act made gender discrimination illegal.

"It was only as the women's movement started gaining steam that it suddenly dawned on us that, oops, there's something wrong with this picture here — that this movement doesn't just apply to those women, it applies to us, and we have to do something about it," Povich says. "And it's illegal."

So the women sued — twice. The first time, they failed, according to Povich. Then they decided to hire Eleanor Holmes Norton, who had become the human rights commissioner for the city of New York, and Harriet Rabb, a young lawyer at Columbia who was running an employment-rights seminar.

Rabb put across goals and timetables. The women asked for a third of the reporters and a third of the writers to be women, and a third of the researchers to be men. They aimed to integrate the category to show that researcher was not a just a woman's job — it was an entry-level job for anyone with those skills, Povich says.

"Our final demand was that there be a woman senior editor. And they balked at this because it was management — we can't tell them who to put in management," she says. "And we just said, 'We're not signing an agreement where there's not a woman in the meetings where all the decisions are being made.' And they promised to have a woman senior editor by the end of 1975."

The women gave the men two years to find a woman they could have in their management meetings.
"I was told they approached Gloria Steinem, who by that time was editing her own magazine, Ms.," Povich says. "And I don't think she would have wanted to be a senior editor at Newsweek at the time. And she said to me, 'They probably came to me because I was like Jose Greco, the only Spanish dancer they knew.' "

Lynn Povich was appointed the first female senior editor of Newsweek, five years after the lawsuit chronicled in The Good Girls Revolt, in which she participated.
Christian Steiner/PublicAffairs Lynn Povich was appointed the first female senior editor of Newsweek, five years after the lawsuit chronicled in The Good Girls Revolt, in which she participated.

Interview Highlights

On why the women took the menial jobs
"We were so happy to be working in an interesting place ... surrounded and talking about the news of the day. The world of the '60s still had classified ads that were segregated, 'Help Wanted — Male' and 'Help Wanted — Female.' And most of the female occupations were nurses, teachers, secretaries and jobs of that sort."

"And I think that, as one of the men said, we were all blind. I mean, the men accepted this system, and those of us who stayed at Newsweek accepted this system."

On the 'Rosa Parks' of the Newsweek movement
"The woman who started the [movement] — what I call our Rosa Parks of our little movement — was a woman named Judy Gingold, who was a Marshall scholar in Oxford, came back, could not find a job and ended up being a researcher at Newsweek, fact-checking people. And, she was having a conversation with a friend who was a lawyer, describing the situation at Newsweek, and the woman said, 'You know that's illegal.' And she had no idea. And she said, 'Well, I don't think the men know it's illegal.' And [the lawyer] said, 'Well, call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.' And the woman said to her, 'Yes, it's illegal.' And Judy said, 'Well, I think we have to tell the men.' And the woman said, 'Are you crazy? People don't want to give up power. If you tell them about it, they will promote two women, co-opt all of you, and it will be over. Your case is so clear cut, you've got to do something.' And so now Judy had a moral issue — this was illegal, something wrong was happening — and so she came back and started organizing us."

On recruiting in the ladies' room
"We would sort of look under to see who was in the ladies' room, look under the stalls, and then we'd approach someone at the sink, and say, you know, 'Ugh, I've got to check this story by so-and-so,' and, 'God, I could write it better than he does,' and if the woman seemed to respond, then you'd say something like, 'Well, we're thinking about doing something about changing this system. Are you interested?' And one by one, we reeled people in."

On how times haven't changed
"It surprised me when I met these young women at Newsweek today, because, you know, they were all supercompetent, been told since they were kids that they could do anything, and yet, when they got into the work world, after a year or two, they were suddenly feeling marginalized — that guys seemed to be getting better assignments, and young guys with equal qualifications or even less were somehow being promoted faster than they were. And they couldn't understand why, because this was post-feminism, the sex wars were over, we were all equal now. So it couldn't be that thing called discrimination; it must be them. They just must not be talented enough to move ahead.

"Well, I think it's more difficult for young women now, because it has the air of equality, but when you look under the surface, of course, there [are] still hostile work environments; there's still not equal pay for women. So, there's no longer the blatant categories and castes for women, but yes, I also think that, with women's issues currently on the front burner in this political system, many of us indeed thought these rights were secure that we had won, and yet you see how threatened they are, both in the work world and with reproductive rights and violence against women. I mean, vigilance is necessary."


Too bad "Vegas" isnt shot in Nevada. A trend robbing the state of jobs.

Our Greatest Tough Guy Goes Prime Time

Legendary Sheriff Ralph Lamb returns to the neon as the inspiration for Vegas, television’s latest fling with Sin City

Illustration by Christopher A. Jones

VegasSeven (click here for magazine coverage)

Hollywood can’t keep its horny paws off our town. Las Vegas, it seems, is forever irresistible, which explains why we’ve dated nearly every television network, sashaying over the airwaves in one series or another. Our romantic scorecard is checkered: We cemented one long-term relationship (with those nerdy-sexy crime solvers of CSI). Had a few fun flings (handsome Bobby Urich, his bedroom eyes and red ’57 Thunderbird in Vega$, and pockmarked bulldog Dennis Farina in Crime Story). Enjoyed some steamy hookups (even an older Jimmy Caan had that bad-boy appeal in Las Vegas). Suffered a whole lotta losers (Blansky’s Beauties, for one, wherein wacky Nancy Walker supervised frisky Vegas showgirls! Laugh track ensued).
Related Stories

Our Greatest Tough Guy Goes Prime Time

Legendary Sheriff Ralph Lamb returns to the neon as the inspiration for Vegas, television’s latest fling with Sin City. Read more »

The Lamb Behind the Legend

Who in their right mind pilfers Sheriff Ralph Lamb’s peaches? At age 85, Lamb looks like he could still kick your keister into tomorrow. True, his eyesight is poor and fading, a victim of macular degeneration. Somehow, though, his eyes look alive and alert, holding you in their steady gaze. Read more »

Las Vegas on the Small Screen

The best and worst of Vegas' past and present on television. Read more »

Cities across America have flirtations with scripted prime-time series, New York and Los Angeles being our biggest rivals. (We’re way better looking and much hotter in neon, though.) Now CBS, one of our steady suitors—they courted us with short-lived Dr. Vegas, The Defenders, Hearts Are Wild and grandpappy CSI—has again asked us out for a night on the town, hoping we’ll blow on their dice. This one could be more than a good time. This one could be romance (or at least hot monkey love). Even this suitor’s name is familiar.

Slice the “$” off Vega$, replace it with a plain ol’ “s” and meet Vegas, starring Dennis Quaid as our venerable ex-sheriff, Ralph Lamb (10 p.m. Tuesdays starting Sept. 25 on KLAS Channel 8).

Pedigree pours from Vegas, from the headliner (Quaid, a bona-fide movie star in his first TV series, after doing some TV movies) to the co-star (Michael Chiklis, who created compelling, good cop/bad cop-in-one Vic Mackey in FX’s The Shield) to the writer (Casino/Goodfellas scribe Nicholas Pileggi, who penned the pilot and will contribute to future episodes).

Shotguns and slots, craps and crime, the law and the lawless—that’s this series, which, like most Vegas-centered shows, is more in love with how we look than who we are, but at least takes elements of our history seriously. Perhaps not since Warren Beatty’s Bugsy on the big screen has Hollywood given a prominent nod to a genuine Vegas public figure, and Lamb is an obvious choice.

Two-fisted and no-nonsense, Lamb, an ex-rancher and rodeo cowboy from Alamo, Nev., was Clark County’s longest-serving sheriff from 1961-79. Our “cowboy sheriff” took on mobsters, bikers and troublemakers of every ilk—sometimes physically—with an amiable swagger. (Famously, he roughed up wiseguy Johnny Roselli at the Desert Inn in 1966 and sent him on his way out of town.)

Simultaneously, Lamb yanked local law enforcement into the modern era by creating a crime lab, organizing the city’s first SWAT team and helping supervise the merger of Las Vegas and county law enforcement agencies into the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (See interview with Lamb.)

Mirroring his tenure, Vegas is set in the ’60s (and if the series lasts long enough, the ’70s), and surrounds Quaid’s Lamb with a passel of fictional supporting characters (it’s not, after all, a documentary). Cast as his antagonist is Chiklis as Chicago mob fixer Vincent Savino, who takes over the fictional Savoy Hotel, setting the weekly law-vs.-the-Mafia square-off in motion. Co-starring are Carrie Ann Moss as an assistant district attorney, Jason O’Mara as Lamb’s brother and Taylor Handley as his charmingly impulsive son.

Rugged and roguish, Quaid’s Lamb is minding his own business at the outset of the pilot episode when he’s pissed off by planes soaring overhead, rattling his ranch. Before the first commercial, Lamb has busted a dismissive airport official in the chops. Soon after—in a plot not drawn from Lamb’s career—the governor’s niece is found murdered. Remembering Lamb’s experience in military intelligence during World War II, and admiring him, the mayor of Las Vegas enlists him to head up an investigation while the current sheriff is away.
Does he solve the case? Need we answer that?

Along the way, Lamb also pops an insolent biker in the mouth after a gang runs wild on Fremont Street, and stands ramrod straight on the highway as a car speeds toward him, shooting out two tires with steely calm. Meanwhile, Chiklis’ Savino arrives, and their relationship, initially cordial, turns tense to the point where, in a highly improbable scene, Lamb and his deputies stride through the casino toting shotguns to confront him.
Violence is a major component, but isn’t hampered by network constraints in any meaningful way and wouldn’t be significantly enhanced had Vegas landed on HBO or Showtime on premium cable, or even FX or the USA network on basic cable. One intense scene shows Savino severely beating one of his lackeys, and it is nasty. Graphic treatment would make the audience cringe more but wouldn’t express Savino’s brutality any better. Only in the restricted use of language is Vegas at a disadvantage for realism, the tradeoff being how many viewers CBS can deliver. (Last season, in statistics gathered by Nielsen Media Research, CBS attracted the most viewers—11.74 million—of any network, claiming that distinction for the ninth time in 10 years.)

Degrees of realism in Vegas, though, are about more than language and violence.  Author H. Lee Barnes—who served in Lamb’s department in the late ’60s, advancing from deputy to detective to sergeant—chuckles when asked about Hollywood’s (dis)respect for Vegas history.

“Hollywood views Las Vegas in the way they view King Arthur myths. … The real stories of the sheriff’s department weren’t so much about Ralph as the deputies and detectives who went out and did the work day to day,” says Barnes, who at press time had seen the series’ trailer, but not the entire pilot episode.

“One of the real distortions is that one of the reasons the mob no longer has its tentacles in Las Vegas the way it once did … is not so much for what Ralph Lamb did as what happened when the FBI got into who was running the casinos and the skimming operations. It was a nationwide effort on behalf of the feds, with the cooperation of Metro.”

Pileggi’s participation doesn’t impress Barnes, either. “Same guy who did Casino, which is all bullshit too—well, not all bullshit, but it’s Hollywood. Now we know that the [Frank] Rosenthal character he created was a snitch, which puts a whole different patina on things.”

Yet Barnes, who wrote an essay about his experiences in Lamb’s department in a Vegas Seven essay (“We Got ’Em Boys,” Oct. 20), is still an admirer of the former sheriff. “It’s great that somebody wants to honor Ralph Lamb. He contributed monumentally to the growth of law enforcement in this town and he’s a real Nevada character.”

What might give Vegas resonance for the rest of the country is what Quaid’s Lamb symbolizes, particularly now: One strong daddy figure staring trouble in the eye and bringing it to heel, as Gary Cooper did dramatically in High Noon and James Garner did comically in Support Your Local Sheriff.

Ideologically fractious from Democrats to Tea Partiers and scrambled by the Great Recession, we are a confused nation. Entertainment such as Vegas with its good guy/bad guy moral clarity—oversimplified as it may be—provides a salve. Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney, awash in the real-life muck of politics, is a matinee-ready hero astride a strapping steed. Sheriff Lamb, CBS-style, is that rescuer, his motives unquestioned, his purity intact, tacitly assuring that whether it’s Chiklis’ baddie or the Recession, evil will eventually be vanquished.

One hour of catharsis—with just enough fact to justify the fiction—every week.

As for the cold, ratings-driven realities of network television, odds are good that Vegas will advance to a sophomore season, if the usual indicators are on target. Ratings seem archaic as a gauge of success or failure in an age of online viewing, delayed DVR playback and competition from roughly a billion cable channels. Yet Nielsen is still the industry’s equivalent of a Roman emperor’s thumb in front of quaking Christians and lip-smacking lions.

Quaid & Co. can count on strong lead-in support at 9 p.m. from NCIS: Los Angeles, which was ranked 27th among primetime series by Nielsen last season, and was a top-10 performer in reruns this summer. Competition from established shows at 10 p.m. is not intimidating, with ABC countering with Private Practice (ranked No. 43 last season, having hemorrhaged viewers after switching from Thursdays to Tuesdays) and NBC slotting Parenthood (No. 56, and in danger of cancellation in the past). That leaves the crime-show audience wide open for Vegas to grab.

Since Quaid portrays a mature hero on a network that skews older, Vegas likely will appeal more toward the 50-plus audience—the very audience advertisers tend to ignore. Still, Vegas should nestle snugly into CBS’ successful model.

Hollywood, with all its fibs and flaws, its tendency to treat us like wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am one-nighters, desires us once more. Well, what the hell?  We’re always ready for our close-up, Mr. DeMille.
Smile pretty for Vegas, Las Vegas.

VegasSeven (click here for magazine coverage)

Ethics and Public Speaking

To help foster responsible communication, the National Communication Association has developed a Credo for Ethical Communication. You can access it at

You can learn a great deal about free-speech issues on the Internet. One source is the American Civil Liberties Union Free Speech website at Another is the Freedom Forum's First Amendment site at

For further study:

Steven Boyd:

A list of study questions on the subject of ethics and ethical practices:


Because speechmaking is a form of power, it carries with it heavy ____________ responsibilities.

____________ is the branch of philosophy that deals with issues of right and wrong in human affairs.

In public speaking, sound ethical decisions involve weighing a potential course of action against
A)a set of ethical standards or guidelines.
B)the practicality of taking that course of action.
C)a set of legal criteria for acceptable speech.
D)the speaker's goals in a given situation.

Even though there can be gray areas when it comes to assessing a speaker's goals, it is still necessary to ask ethical questions about those goals.

Because listeners recognize that public speakers are promoting their self-interest, it is acceptable for speakers to alter evidence.

Which of the following violates the speaker's ethical obligation to be honest in what she or he says?
A)juggling statistics
B)quoting out of context
C)citing unusual cases as typical examples
D)all of the above

The larger the audience becomes, the greater is the ethical responsibility of the speaker to be fully prepared.

____________ is the use of language to defame, demean, or degrade individuals or groups.

If you present another person's language or ideas as your own, you are guilty of ____________.

Stealing ideas or language from two or three sources and passing them off as one's own is called
A)global plagiarism.
B)patchwork plagiarism.
C)incremental plagiarism.
D)admissible plagiarism.

Gabrielle, a physiology major, waited until the last minute to begin preparing her persuasive speech. When her friend Ken learned that she was panicking over the assignment, he gave her the outline of a speech he had delivered in class the previous semester. Gabrielle used the speech and presented it as her own.
A)Gabrielle is guilty of no ethical offense because Ken willingly gave her his speech.
B)Gabrielle is guilty of patchwork plagiarism because she took her speech entirely from a single source and passed it off as her own.
C)Gabrielle is guilty of global plagiarism because she took a speech entirely from a single source and passed it off as her own.
D)Gabrielle is guilty of incremental plagiarism because she took ideas or language from two or three sources and passed them off as her own.

When a speaker _____________, she restates or summarizes an author's ideas in her own words.

It is only necessary for a speaker to identify his or her source when quoting verbatim rather than when paraphrasing.

Even if your speech as a whole is ethical, you can still be guilty of ____________ plagiarism if you fail to give credit for quotations, paraphrases, and other specific parts of the speech that are borrowed from other people.

Protecting a speaker's freedom to express his or her ideas implies agreement with those ideas.

What is the ethical reason to avoid racist, sexist, and other kinds of abusive language?

When preparing his speech, Chad, a physiology major, checked out two books on the principles of neuromuscular therapy and paraphrased their ideas. Because he expressed the information in his own words, Chad decided not to cite his sources. Was he guilty of plagiarism? Explain.

What are the three ethical obligations of listeners?