Studies: Women candidates pay political price for any mention of their looks

Name It. Change It.

For many years, some media critics have insisted that press coverage that refers to female politicians’ looks — particularly when there’s no similar reference to male politicos — trivializes and damages them in the eyes of potential voters.

Now the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run have released studies they say prove those criticisms, developed in a joint project called Name It. Change It. In one survey, conducted online, they reached 1,500 likely voters to gauge what would happen to female candidate’s electoral chances if she were described in news stories that outlined her appearance. In another, they used an online dial survey to sample 1,000 likely voters on the effects of sexist coverage for female candidates who were white, black, Latina and Asian American.

The first survey found that news stories that mentioned female candidate “Jane Smith” ‘s appearance hurt her chances of getting votes against male candidate “Dan Jones,” regardless of whether the description was neutral, positive or negative. Read more

1 Comment

New website helps viewers see how news is skewed

With 60 percent of Americans saying they do not trust mainstream media to fully, accurately or fairly report the news, Colleen Bradford Krantz launched, a project that she hopes will help the public identify why a news story seems biased.

Still in its early stages, the project launched last week and targets high school, middle school and college students, Bradford Krantz told Poynter by phone.

“Teachers have told us that these are the groups who are really bad at critical news viewing,” she said. “But it’s not just limited to young viewers. A lot of people think that most journalists are out to slant news.”

The site focuses on video for now. “That’s what young people are using more and more,” Bradford Krantz said.

The project compares three versions of a news story: One neutral news report followed by two deliberately slanted versions. One of the two slanted versions uses pop-up balloons to show how seemingly unimportant changes — in background music, in how a source is identified — can affect the message. Read more


Get the latest media news delivered to your inbox.

Select the newsletter(s) you'd like to receive: