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Men dominate news coverage of women’s reproductive issues, finds Women’s Media Center study

January 20, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The full report is available here.

The Infographic is available here.


WASHINGTON, DC — Male voices and perspectives eclipse female ones -- even in coverage of women’s reproductive issues -- according to research released today by the Women’s Media Center.

“When it comes to stories about abortion and contraception, women’s voices are systematically stifled – as writers and as sources,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center.  Burton noted, “In articles about elections and reproductive issues, men’s voices prevail, especially in coverage of presidential campaigns, with male reporters telling 67 percent of all presidential election stories related to abortion and contraception.”

The gender of the reporter appears to affect whom they choose to quote and how they cover the story. WMC’s research shows that female journalists quote women more often than their male counterparts, while quotes from male sources predominate in articles written by men.  Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center noted, “Since women play a greater role in reproduction, it would make sense for women to be the majority of the sources and authorities in its coverage.”

WMC research shows male voices dominate reproductive issues coverage as journalists and as sources. Female journalists wrote just 37 percent of articles about reproductive issues while their male counterparts penned 52 percent. Another 11 percent did not have bylines. Quotes from men account for 41 percent of all quotes in articles about reproductive issues while quotes from women account for just 33 percent.

“The American public — and especially women — deserve accurate, informed and experienced media coverage on reproductive health, state and federal legislation, abortion and contraception,” said Gloria Steinem. “This research is offered in the hope of increasing public information about reproductive justice — which means the right to have or not to have children — as a basic human right.”

WMC conducted an in-depth review of 1,385 news stories, columns, op-eds and editorials about reproductive issues published between August 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015. The research focused on 12 high-circulation media outlets and widely used wire services: Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Reuters, San Jose Mercury News, Associated Press, The Denver Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

Some news organizations, such as The New York Daily News, had a nearly equal number of stories bylined by male and female journalists. Two – USA Today and The Washington Post – had slightly more stories with women's bylines than men's. But most had more male writers covering reproductive issues than female writers. A few, such as The New York Times and San Jose Mercury News, had male writers filing reproductive issues stories almost twice as often as women. The Associated Press featured male bylines more than twice as often as female ones.

The full report is available here.

Infographic is available here and below.

The Women’s Media Center commissioned Novetta, (www.novetta.com) a Virginia-based analytics research company, to carry out this study.

The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Steinem, works to make women visible and powerful in media. The Women’s Media Center trains women leaders to be in the media; promotes women experts to the media through WMC SheSource; conducts groundbreaking research and reporting on media inclusion and accuracy; features women’s voices and stories on our radio program “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” and through WMC Features, WMC FBomb, WMC Speech Project, and WMC Women Under Siege.

For more information, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor, director of communications, at cristal@womensmediacenter.com or 202-587-1636.

Infographic: Byline disparity in reproductive issues coverage

Infographic: Bylines by gender

Infographic: Sourcing by gender

Infographic: Topics covered

Infographic: Breakdown of elections coverage by gender