This is the second in a series of posts (one from each of our geographical regions) looking at how our findings through our Gender Checks — that women have 31 percent of bylines thus far — compare to the actual makeups of these news sites’ newsrooms. The goal is to help determine what other factors may play a role in determining who bylines top-of-the-website stories.
Here’s a look at our monitored websites from the Midwest:
During the first quarter, women bylined roughly 41.6 percent of the stories we “gender checked” in the Midwest’s geographic region. Those were distributed as 10 stories written by an individual woman and 14 by one or more man.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newsroom contact list (accessed June 22) shows women as 31.3 percent of the staff members listed. The number of women in the newsroom is at a much lower percentage than has shown up in the bylines on top stories on Stltoday.com, which during the first quarter showed a 50-50 ratio of men to women in the articles we checked. Of those articles from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the first quarter, six were by a woman and six by a man or two.
The gender breakdown in the Post-Dispatch newsroom appears to fall mostly along traditional lines. Women made up the majority only of the arts and entertainment (six to two) as well as the lifestyle (five to one) and health (three to one) staffs. On the other hand, the biggest differences for men were in sports (20 to one) and business (seven to two) staffs. If those under news staffs are tallied up (general assignment, city beats, city hall, main news, metro and national/international), men outnumber women at a ratio of more than three to one.
Of those listed as specifically online news staff, three were female and five were male. The deputy managing editor/online is male — Bob Rose.
As is typical, the St. Louis Beacon, the online-only news outlet we monitor in this region, has a much smaller staff than the newspaper-based St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Women actually make up the majority of the 15-person editorial and reporting staff (accessed June 22) — nine are female, or 60 percent.
However, even though the St. Louis Beacon has a much greater percentage of female news staff than its newspaper competitor, that has not yet been the case in its byline record through our Gender Checks. During the first quarter, four articles were by women while eight were by men. It’s still early to determine whether this is an ongoing trend.
Unlike with the Seattle P-I, where an apparent emphasis on crime reporting displayed on the top of the website brought out more male bylines, there does not necessarily appear to be a trend at this point here. Three of the eight male bylines belong to one reporter whose topics were of state and city government issues but the rest are spread out between two other reporters and a “special to” the Beacon contributor. All four articles with female bylines counted in our Gender Checks as of the first quarter were of different authorship.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the editor of the Beacon is a woman, Margaret Wolf Freivogel, who is also one of the site’s founders. According to her on-site bio, she has received recognition for her coverage of women in politics and served as president of the Journalism and Women’s Symposium.
Note: For the purposes of our study, most of our data for the breakdowns of the individual newsrooms we feature have and will come from what is readily available online through the news sites’ own contact and staff listing pages. From what we know from our own experience in the industry, we’re aware these aren’t always quite up to date, but they should give us a general idea of what the newsrooms look like. We’ve stuck to newsroom staff for our purposes. This may vary by news site, as some, particularly newspapers, include different staff positions on their lists.
Read the first post in this series, which looked at the staff breakdowns at the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I, here. Watch for the next installment coming soon. Two more posts remain in this series — the Northeast and the South.