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WMC’s Research Shines Light on Gender Bias in Major U.S. Broadcast, Print, Online, & Wire Outlets

April 3, 2014

The Women's Media Center's New Research Shines Light on Gender Bias in Major U.S. Broadcast, Print, Online, & Wire Outlets:  Male Journalists Dominate Most Sectors

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Women are outnumbered by men in the news industry — in television, newspapers, online and wires, according to new research from The Women’s Media Center.

The research found that 63.4 percent of those with bylines or on-camera appearances as anchors or reporters were men, while women were 36.1 percent.

The Women’s Media Center’s research examined 20 of the most widely circulated, read, viewed and listened to U.S. based TV networks, newspapers, news wires and online news sites. The research findings tell a stark story about where women stand across every platform in the 24/7 news cycle.

Some news organizations have made more strides in achieving gender parity, according to the research.

“There are, most certainly, a handful of notable exceptions to the trend of men dominating media and it is important to note that a woman in the anchor seat is more than a symbol; she sends a message to viewers that women can lead a network broadcast — and that matters,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “Overall, this research is about much more than just one woman in an anchor seat, it is about making sure that who defines the story, who tells the story, and what the story is about, represents women and men equally. Women are more than half of the population, but we don’t see or hear them in equal numbers to men.  It is our hope – and our work – to see those numbers reach parity.”

Female journalists were more likely to report on lifestyle, culture and health while men were more likely to cover politics, criminal justice or technology, according to the research.

Here are the research highlights:

  • PBS “NewsHour” and ABC “World News” have women as primary anchors. Female anchors report 93 percent of news stories at PBS and 58 percent of news stories at ABC.  NBC “Nightly News” and CBS “Evening News” feature men as primary anchors.  Female anchors report 7 percent of news stories at NBC and 5 percent of news stories at CBS.
     
  • Male correspondents at ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS provided 66 percent of news reports from the field.
     
  • At the nation’s 10 most widely circulated newspapers, men garnered 63 percent of bylines, compared to 37 percent for women.
     
  • The New York Times had the widest gender gap in male-female bylines. Chicago Sun-Times, with 46 percent female bylines, came closest to parity.
     
  • The Huffington Post had more women contributors than three other of the largest online news sites surveyed, CNN.com, The Daily Beast and Fox News.com. 48 percent of Huffington Post contributors—paid and unpaid—were women. In contrast, women contributors represented 41 percent at CNN.com, 38 percent of Fox.com contributors, and 30 percent for online-only Daily Beast.
     
  • More women had bylines at Reuters than at The Associated Press, but at both news wires, male bylines still outnumbered female bylines:  Women landed 43 percent of the bylines at Reuters and 32 percent of the bylines at The AP. 

“These findings confirm an ongoing truth that is not just disappointing, but unfortunate for all of us in so many ways,” said Geneva Overholser, who is a Women’s Media Center board member, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and former ombudsman for The Washington Post. “News media are at their best when they call upon the wisdom of all the people whom they serve, when they reflect everyone’s experience and bring in the hopes and dreams and fears of every sort of person. When media are overwhelmingly male (and still, alas, overwhelmingly white), they just aren't anywhere near as good as they could be.”

“Media should reflect the nation’s diverse audiences,” said Janet Dewart Bell, also a Women’s Media Center board member and formerly a key strategist for the National Urban League National and executive at National Public Radio (NPR). “The findings in this research illustrate the work that still needs to be done.”

Dee Dee Myers, the first woman to be a White House press secretary and Women’s Media Center board member, said she is “chagrined but not surprised to learn that men still outnumber women by nearly two-to-one on the nation’s top news outlets. We can and must do better — and I joined the board of the Women’s Media Center to ensure that we will.”

Julie Burton added, “We conducted this research in order to shine a light on how well American news media – the shaper of images, ideologies, and ideals – allow women to craft our own narrative and include our voices in a wide-ranging public discourse over the airwaves, in print and online.  Our conclusion:  American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

Quotes from Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, Linda Winslow, executive producer of PBS “News Hour,” Arianna Huffington, chair, president, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and a Reuters spokeswoman about this new research are included in the updated Women’s Media Center’s Status of U.S. Women in the Media 2014.

The Women’s Media Center commissioned Global News Intelligence (GNI) researchers to analyze 27,000 pieces of content from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013. The survey focused on the gender breakdown of full-time newsroom staffers, paid freelance journalists and non-paid content contributors from the following news organizations: The evening news broadcasts for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS; Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Daily News, New York Post, The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN.com, Daily Beast, FOXNews.com and The Huffington Post.

The Status report — which consists of an avalanche of studies and reports examining the representation of women in newspapers, online-only news sites, television, radio, social media, video games, film and television — was originally released in February, but has been updated to include this research and other new data.

The Women’s Media Center 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 on our website; produces media style guides, such as the first ever to cover reproductive issues and our guide on gender neutral coverage of women candidates and public leaders; documents and reports sexualized violence as a tool of war in Syria and other conflict regions through its WMC Women Under Siege project. Its publication,  Status of Women in U.S. Media Report, is now the industry standard on where women stand, and serves as a map to where women need to go. Follow us on Twitter using #StatusWomen.

For press information about The Women’s Media Center or this report, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor at: cristal@womensmediacenter.com, 202-587-1636.