I knew it was bad at the New York Times, but what I didn't know is that female reporters wrote fewer than one-third of the Paper of Record's bylined stories last fall. These articles, moreover, were largely of the family, health and culture varieties. Few women at the Times and other major outlets report on politics, technology, war, and the economy. Politically correct publishers may have relegated the sexist "Woman's Page" to the dustbin of history, but it still exists in the various Mommy blogs and Style sections. Even Oprah Winfrey's pseudo-feminist network features shows directed mainly by men.
"Media in all platforms are failing women," writes Julie Burton, president of the Women's Media Center whose fourth annual report on the status of women in communications professions was released this week.
Coverage of the presidential elections is even more heavily dominated by men. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the stories on the campaigns are being written and reported by males. So do you think this is where all the sports metaphors are coming from? The macho description of Obama's lame-duck status as his "fourth quarter" and narratives comparing politics to a horse-race are big clues to the barely suppressed sexism rampant in every article and broadcast segment, even those reported by the few token women working under male bosses. The two men to every one woman ratio has been standard across the media spectrum throughout the millennium. The only exception is in online news blogging, where women can effectively hire themselves. Slightly more than 40 percent of independent blogs are run by women.
The report gave outstanding grades to only three of the major news outlets, based upon their employment rolls containing at least as many women as men: the PBS News Hour, with its two women anchors; the Huffington Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times.
With the 2016 presidential election already under way, this is especially problematic.We hope that one good result of releasing these discouraging numbers will be that media can take a hard look at their newsrooms and make changes to improve the ratios in their reporting. Media companies should establish goals for improving their gender diversity and create both short-term and long-term mechanisms for achieving them. They should ask themselves why their newsrooms aren’t 50 percent women and what steps they need to take to get there. And if they aren’t asking themselves these questions, then that’s a problem.Welcome to the New Same Old Normal, Baby!