Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson, one of the country's leading media experts, is living proof that is possible to overcome the pitfalls that threaten women's success. More than 150 Penn students and media representatives were present to hear Jamieson address the role of women in media Thursday night in Meyerson Hall. The speech was part of the Women in Leadership Series, a lecture series featuring successful women in a variety of leadership positions designed to promote awareness of women's difficulty in acquiring such roles. The series is sponsored by the Spring Conference of the Trustees Council of Penn Women, a national network of Penn alumnae who attempt to promote the advancement of women's issues within the University. Jamieson, a political commentator who often appears on CNN and PBS' Newshour with Jim Lehrer, began her speech with a video analysis of the media's coverage of the Clinton sex scandals. She displayed a CNN segment entitled "Media Madness?" -- which she helped to edit -- that highlighted the ambiguity of sources surrounding the Monica Lewinsky matter and the changing relationship between the media and presidential privacy over the decades. The segment also illuminated the "echo effect" of rumors that spread throughout the media, Jamieson said. She also used the segment to stress the importance of using accurate sources. "The problem with these patterns of disclosure is that the sources are often unreliable and this information is filtered into the media," she said. "The media has not carried on its responsibility in the last 71 days.? It has replaced substance with sex." In addition, Jamieson -- a distinguished author whose works include Beyond the Double Bind: Women and Leadership -- discussed the bias in media reporting with regard to the Paula Jones scandal. She showed an MSNBC segment which dwelled on the dismissal of Jones' case rather than an important speech Clinton gave in Africa. After the presentation, Jamieson fielded questions from Penn students and reporters, including one from the Washington Post. When asked how to create a disincentive for the media to be controlled by profit motives, Jamieson advocated the use of the "V-chip" so that viewers can block out unwanted programs. The event was followed by a dinner at La Terrasse with Jamieson and 12 undergraduates selected on the basis of their diverse interests. Jamieson's speech elicited a positive response from many students. "I think it was fantastic," College sophomore Sara Shenkan said. "It really helped me to understand the media better." College sophomore Debra Kurshan, a founder of the lecture series, added that there is much to be done regarding the public portrayal of women. "I think that it's going to take a lot of work to change the media's portrayal of women," she said. "It will take an overhaul of the public's attitudes toward women." Some students were doubtful, however, of the prospects of ever achieving true gender equality. "I think the University works to provide everyone with equal opportunities," College freshman Leigh Miseils said. "But when we graduate, society doesn't work to provide everyone with equal opportunities."Comments powered by Disqus
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