I'm going to admit that I cheered. Zelinski's work for the Tennessee Report has been stellar, and she'll be a great addition to The City Paper staff. Objectively, she's a hire that makes sense and will be a good fit, regardless of her gender.
But I cheered because she's really good at her job and she's a woman. We need more women throughout the state reporting on politics in Tennessee. You might not think it matters, but there's a lot of legislation written by men, targeting women, that — and I'm sorry to have to tell you this — seems to ignore basic facts about women, as if those male politicians don't really know a lot about the reality of women's lives. It's important that we have reporters who bring a different perspective.
Just for an example, take this story from The Tennessean last week about how the two candidates in House District 59 have "different top priorities": The story suggests that Robert Duvall is mainly for "jobs" and Sherry Jones is focused primarily on "women's issues." I don't want to get too bogged down in the weirdness of putting Jones' efforts to get DCS to stop breaking the law under the banner of "women's issues," as if men don't give a shit about dead kids.
But I do think that there's a natural follow-up question to Duvall's question, "What is more important right now: women’s issues or putting people back to work?" And that would be asking Duvall if he really thinks putting people back to work isn't a women's issue. I mean, it's weird, right? Throughout the whole story is this assumption that "putting people back to work" and "women's issues" are two different things. And it'd be nice if the reporter, Josh Brown, asked Duvall some questions along those lines.
But I guess that doesn't actually seem like a natural follow-up to Brown. And I think that's an ongoing problem with political coverage in this state. We could really benefit from reporters with a lot of different perspectives, asking questions that don't play into the way politicians frame their arguments.
I think The City Paper's hire of Zelinski is a step in the direction of fixing that.