Women and #theendofbig

As Andrew Sullivan’s recent solo venture demonstrates, journalists with the right kind of digital street cred can cash in on their individual brands.

Sullivan parted ways with the Daily Beast at the end of last year, launching his political blog behind a metered paywall. The move seems to be paying off. Mashable reports that he’s made more than $600,000 so far, and PaidContent predicts that similar persona-based news organizations might become more common:

There are a number of other bloggers and columnists who could arguably pull off a standalone, Sullivan-style model:New York Times foreign correspondent Nick Kristof, for example, has a huge following through social media like Twitter and Facebook and is a popular author…Other columnists at the NYT and similar mainstream outlets like Tom Friedman or Ezra Klein could probably make a go of it, as could some writers such as Felix Salmon at Reuters.

These guys are great journalists, and it would be interesting to see any one of them launch a solo venture, but why are there no women on this list? Ann Marie Lipinski, the curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, posed a similar question on Twitter. It led to an insightful exchange with author Nicco Mele:

The End of Big is a soon-to-be-released book by Mele that examines how the social web is shifting power from organizations to individuals. His argument is exciting to anyone who sees the web as a place to cultivate a diverse chorus of voices. But it’s also pretty frightening when we consider that many women trying to make a name for themselves online are as likely to be critiqued on their as looks as they are for their ideas.

Women may also find it harder to build the kind of professional identities suitable for standalone ventures. Last year, just 25 percent of guests on Sunday morning political talk shows were female, according to the latest report by the Women’s Media Center. That same report found that male experts were used as sources far more than their female colleagues, and men continue to write the majority of op-ed pieces.

The above example of Kara Swisher is a good one. She’s the co-executive editor of AllThingsD.com. What other savvy female journalists have the right stuff to strike out on their own?

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