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Three-Quarters of Newspapers’ Presidential Coverage is Written by Men

August 27, 2012

For Immediate Release
Monday, August 27, 2012

In the post-primary period of election coverage, most of the newspaper stories were written by men, according to new survey data released today by The Women’s Media Center and compiled by The 4th Estate Project. National and state newspapers were surveyed, including those with the nation’s highest circulation rates, like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. The research covers both the primary and general election periods.

  • From January 1 to April 15 (during the GOP primary period) 76 percent of articles written by men.
  • From April 16 to August 25 (during the general election period) 72 percent of articles written by men.

The results of election coverage bylines were first announced on Women's Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, the new talk radio show that debuted yesterday from 3 to 4 p.m. ET on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C. on We Act Radio.

Robin Morgan said about the survey results, “This is crucial, eye-opening information about how far we've yet to go to a achieve a press corps that's truly representative and reflective of its audience."

Women’s Media Center President Julie Burton said, “In this so-called 'Year of the Woman,' this study just goes to show that when it comes to presidential elections it’s still a ‘boys on the bus’ world.”

The figures demonstrate that election coverage bylines skew more male than both the overall population and even most newsrooms. According to surveys by the American Society of News Editors’ Newsroom Employment Census, 62 percent of newsroom reporters are men.

The Women’s Media Center has partnered with The 4th Estate Project, a non-partisan project that is analyzing media coverage of the 2012 presidential election. The 4th Estate Project analyzed the bylines from a selection of 35 influential newspapers from across the country that covered the 2012 presidential election. Excluding blogs and opinion columns, there were 1,337 articles that discussed the presidential election between April 16 to August 25 and 1,679 bylined articles from January 1 to April 15, encompassing the period of the GOP primary period. Any article with two bylines, the gender of the first name was coded for the entire article.

Newspapers included in study were chosen for strategic and geographic diversity. Papers analyzed included: Arizona Republic, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, Des Moines Register, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York Daily News, New York Post, The New York Times, Newark Star Ledger, Newsday, Orange County Register, Philadelphia Inquirer, Quad City Times, Salt Lake City Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, San Antonio Express News, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, St Louis Dispatch, St Petersburg Times, Traverse City Record Eagle, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the Waterloo Courier.

The Women’s Media Center was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Morgan, and Steinem. It works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media through media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original content, training women and girls to participate in media, and connecting women experts with the media.

It also releases regular reports on the Status of Women in the U.S. Media.