How Not To Be Sexist Media Pitch

An Associated Press headline circulated in August that read “Ariana Grande belts Aretha Franklin standard in tiny dress.”

And just this week The New York Times characterized the new Democratic female politicians of color as a “management headache.”

From language used in print and digital publications to the demographic makeup of newsrooms across the country, journalism is still seemingly a boys’ club.

How Not To Be Sexist, a new website I created after researching misogynistic language in media, offers guidelines for journalists who might not even recognize the problem and serves as a watchdog to call out transgressors.  Think of it as an AP Stylebook for wiping out sexism in media.

The guidelines, which aim to standardize the thoughtfulness and conversation that many editors, reporters and journalist trainers call for, come in the form of questions reporters can ask themselves before submitting an article or story pitch and range from, “Is the focus of this story fair and in good taste? Is it going to be important several years from now?” to “If I’m asking a question of a woman, would I ask this same question of a man?” and “How could this topic or my language be perceived? Am I writing with empathy?”

The full list of these questions, plus sub-descriptions and examples of each question, can be found at How Not To Be Sexist: The Guidelines, along with the live watchlist of sexist news media examples.

Please email Roxy Szal at if you’re interested in speaking more about this work, especially its intention both to call out sexist language while also beginning to combat it at the root.  Or if you’d rather, I can write a piece for your website or conduct a webinar on the website and its aim.

As seen on Medium: ‘How Not To Be Sexist,’ An Analysis of and Antidote for Misogynistic Language in News Media