Women lag behind men in covering campaign, except for social issues

The 4th Estate
Here’s a little more data to go along with the Women’s Media Center study, announced Tuesday, that said most campaign coverage has been written by men. The 4th Estate project examined print media coverage after April 15 and found one topic of coverage on which female journalists enjoyed near-parity with their male colleagues: social issues.



That rubric “includes issues such as abortion, contraception, and women’s rights,” the 4th Estate says. But…

Interestingly, despite this higher percentage of women as ‘storytellers’ on Social Issues, this does not translate into a balanced representation of female newsmakers (sources quoted in the articles) within these stories.

Earlier this year the OpEd Project released a study of opinion-page writing in late 2011. “In both legacy and new media, women tended to write a lot of stories on ‘pink topics’ — food, fashion, family and furniture,” my coworker Mallary Tenore wrote at the time.

It’s hard to characterize much of the 4th Estate’s topics as “pink,” though, and “Character” stories, it says, were written far more by men than women. “Education” stories have been such a small part of campaign coverage it’s actually quite difficult to see the gender breakdown on this graphic. I cranked up my computer’s magnifier tool for readers who lack bionic vision, and, yep, men had a nice edge on those stories, too.

Related: Glamour snags interview with President Obama (WWD) | Candy Crowley will be the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in 20 years (Poynter)

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  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Hi Naomi,

    That’s a good question. I’m not sure how many women there are total in campaign journalism. Here’s some more context, though: ASNE’s latest diversity census found that men account for an estimated 63 percent of newsroom employees. (http://bit.ly/UpueIT). Additionally, the Women’s Media Center recently found that men wrote 76 percent of articles about the Republican primary and 72 percent of articles about the presidential campaign.

    I’m also reminded of a recent graphic from the 4th Estate Project, which found that news organizations have consistently quoted more men than women in stories about Planned Parenthood, birth control, abortion and women’s rights. (http://bit.ly/ORynTd). I think if we had more women covering these issues, we would likely see more women quoted in the stories about them.

    ~Mallary Tenore

  • http://twitter.com/nthmost Naomi Most

    OK, and how many women are there in campaign journalism TOTAL versus the total number of men in campaign journalism? Because those blue/pink bars look astonishingly evenly distributed to me.