Who makes the news?

From AWID:

Press Release
September 29, 2010

Women are still significantly underrepresented and misrepresented in news media coverage, according to Global Media Monitoring Project research in 108 countries coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) despite significant change since the project began 15 years ago.

76% of the people heard or read about in the world’s news are male. The world seen in news media remains largely a male one.

The GMMP monitored 1,365 newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites, 17,795 news stories and 38,253 persons in the news in 108 countries with 82% of the world’s people.

The report Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Project 2010 was released today in Arabic , English, French and Spanish, along with numerous regional and national reports.

24% of people in the news are female, compared to 17% in 1995. 44% of persons providing popular opinion in news stories are female compared to 34% in 2005.

  • News media show significant gender bias with 46% of news stories reinforcing gender stereotypes.
  • 13% of news stories focus centrally on women.
  • Expert commentary is overwhelmingly male with only one female in every five experts.
  • The age of women in the news is mentioned twice as often and family status almost four times as often as for men.

Today female reporters are responsible for 37% of stories compared to 28% fifteen years ago, and their stories challenge gender stereotypes twice as often as stories by male reporters.

Gender bias in Internet news is similar and in some respects even more intense than that found in the traditional news media.

The 2010 report contains a plan of action for media professionals and others committed to gender-ethical news media.

The GMMP is the largest and longest running research and advocacy initiative on fair and balanced gender representation in the news media. It is coordinated by WACC, a global network of communicators promoting communication for social change, in collaboration with data analyst Media Monitoring Africa, and with support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women.”

The report – Who Makes the News? – is available here

Sunday talk shows demonstrate social dominance theory

Interesting article from Open Left on how the Sunday talk shows use the 3 biases found in social dominance theory (SDT) –

Versailles is a center-right nation:  Sunday talk shows have 3 biases have 3 biases of Social Dominance Theory

SDT argues that there are three main sorts of hierarchy observed in societies around the world: age-based (elders over the young), gender-based (men over women) and special groups (ethnic-based, race-based, religion-based, etc.)  Significantly, a recent paper looking at the makeup of congressional guests on Sunday talk shows finds all three kinds of bias are present–although it does not consciously invoke the SDT model.

Name it. Change it.

A new campaign called “Name it Change it” is out to stop sexism in its tracks! You too can participate – see the Web site for details:

Name it Change it

Watch the video “

Here’s a description of the campaign:

Widespread sexism in the media is one of the top problems facing women. A highly toxic media environment persists for women candidates, often negatively affecting their campaigns. The ever-changing media landscape creates an unmonitored echo chamber, often allowing damaging comments to exist without accountability.

We must erase the pervasiveness of sexism against all women candidates — irrespective of political party or level of office — across all media platforms in order to position women to achieve equality in public office. We will not stand by as pundits, radio hosts, bloggers, and journalists damage women’s political futures with misogynistic remarks. When you attack one woman, you attack all women.

Here’s an article in the Washington Post about it: Women’s groups target sexism in campaigns

And here’s a letter to the editor about the article (note the misogynist comments on it):  Group references sometimes overlook the absence of women 

Father absence

Over at the Justice’s Posterous blog site, they’ve noted the absence of the term “father” in many of the domestic violence and even family court-related articles as a form of media bias – because, on the contrary, they often identify the woman as a mother.

Check out her site here and look for the September 8th entry: Justice’s Posterous

Here are the article she references: Man accused of bringing handgun to child custody hearing and Soldier sentenced to 6 years for incest, sex assault

Check out these too:

Man angered by how wife cooked eggs kills 5, self   (man and wife denotes inequality as it treats her like a possession; husband and wife is preferred)

Lake Havasu man kills 5, then himself  Suspect in custody dispute with mother of children, police say (man vs. mother)

 Man charged with attempted murder in domestic violence case  (he was a husband & father)

 Police arrested 28-year-old James Ray Salazar, II, Aug. 25 for attempted murder (2nd degree), aggravated assault, kidnapping, custodial interference, child abuse and disorderly conduct in connection with a domestic incident.

Media bias

When women’s use of violence is exaggerated in order to get attention, it’s media bias.  Check out this headline:

Yeardley Love, George Huguely fought days before her death, court papers show

University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love was so angry at George Huguely V in the days before she was killed that she hit him with her purse, spilling its contents all over the floor…

While I realize purses come in all sizes and have varying weights, this headline and opening sentence seem pretty exaggerated to me. Hitting a Lacrosse player (capable of murder) with a purse wouldn’t warrant being called a fight – but hey, the media is also prone to using “dispute,” which does the opposite – it minimizes the extent of violence. One commenter on this article believed the Washington Post writer acted as though Love somehow deserved to get her head bashed into the wall. I’m not sure if I believe the writer felt that Love was ‘asking for it’ but I do think he played up her use of violence.

Media bias and what to do about it

Just a reminder of how important media is in shaping policies and norms in our culture. Read Jennifer Pozner’s article to learn how to advocate on behalf of gender and social justice. I’ve included a few excerpts below:

Why fixing the media should be on the feminist agenda

Without accurate, non-biased, diverse news coverage and challenging, creative cultural expression it is virtually impossible to significantly impact public opinion of women’s and human rights issues or to create lasting social change. Indeed, corporate media are key to why our fast-moving culture is so slow to change, stereotypes are so stubborn and the power structure is so entrenched. Pop culture images help us determine what to buy, what to wear, whom to date, how we feel about our bodies, how we see ourselves and how we relate to racial, sexual, socio-economic and religious “others.”

Journalism directly links and affects every individual issue on the socio-political continuum in a national debate over the pressing matters of the day, from rape to racism, hate crimes to war crimes, corporate welfare to workplace gender discrimination. By determining who has a voice in this debate and who is silenced, which issues are discussed and how they’re framed, media have the power to maintain the status quo or challenge the dominant order.


As feminists, we need to prioritize media among our top political concerns. Is sexual assault your most urgent issue? Media still imply that women “ask for it,” as when a Wall Street Journal column blamed rape and murder on “moronic” women who don’t have enough “common sense” to keep themselves safe. Think anti-abortion violence is a threat to women’s safety and to our reproductive freedom? An American anti-abortion fanatic attempted to blow up a women’s health clinic in Iowa on September 11, 2006, yet only one newspaper in the entire Nexis news database deigned to report this terrorist attack. Against the war? When three pretty, blond country singers are called “Dixie Sluts” by major magazines and TV news reports, banned from airplay by ClearChannel, Cox and Cumulus Radio and censored with radio-funded CD-stomping spectacles simply for expressing anti-war sentiment, it’s a safe bet that corporate media won’t be giving much press to Iraqi women who complain that their safety and autonomy are now curtailed by new Sharia laws imposed by the U.S.-approved Iraqi Constitution.


Sexist, racist media content is fruit from a poisoned tree. The demonization of women and the near invisibility of progressive feminist perspectives in American media are the result of institutional factors, including the financial and political agendas of mega-merged media monopolies; the pandering of news networks and entertainment studios to advertisers’ profit motives without regard for the public’s interest; the limited access of women, people of color, low income people, LGBTQ people, Native people, immigrants and other marginalized constituencies to the means of media production, distribution and technology; decades of right-wing investment in media messaging, production and advocacy; and, funding restrictions of independent media alternatives.