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Katie Couric, Gayle King, and Hoda Kotb Reflect on Nate Silver, Arianna Huffington, and Women in Media

Katie Couric, John Molner
Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

What better place to discuss the state of gender in journalism than the book party for Arianna Huffington’s post-Lean In self-help tome Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder? In that room, the industry’s most powerful women were very well represented.

Katie Couric, newly of Yahoo, addressed the recent debate about representation at the hottest new future-of-news websites, telling Intelligencer, “Well, obviously, duh, I think it’s critically important to have women have a huge presence in all media, really. I think a lot of traditional media outlets bemoan the advent of all these online news sites, and I think they provide an extraordinary opportunity for women to be present and to have a voice.” Nate Silver, she added, is not the enemy.

Silver, whose new FiveThirtyEight was criticized for being “a repackaging of the status quo with a very nice clubhouse attached,” recently explained, “About 85 percent of our applications come in from men. That worries us.” He said approaching candidates outside of the applicant pool was a necessary fix.

Couric concurred. “You also need to cultivate an environment where you’re actively recruiting and embracing female writers,” she said. “I guess everyone gets taken to task online, it’s very hard to do anything in a covert way. I think Nate is a very fair minded person.”

The thing you don’t want to see is too much segregation, de facto segregation, between women’s issues and more traditional ‘male issues,’ if you will,” she added. “But clearly, I think it’s important and exciting.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. While Huffington’s book evangelizes for personal well-being and plenty of sleep, Oprah BFF and CBS This Morning host Gayle King, who would know, admitted that while “we are working ourselves literally to death,” rethinking that is easier said than done, especially for young women.

“I think when you’re first starting out, that’s very difficult, but it’s something to keep in mind as you climb the ladder, that we might need to start setting boundaries for ourselves,” she explained. “I said to her this morning, ‘You’re Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, so you can say ‘Sleep! Don’t answer emails!’” When you’re starting out, it doesn’t work that way.”

It’s not until you’re older that you can sleep,” agreed Today’s Hoda Kotb. “You need to kill yourself first.”

Katie Couric on Nate Silver and Women in Media