Following a methodology change for the New Media Index reports, The Gender Report has for the second month in a row found the lowest count of female bylines yet, this month coming in at a dismal 9.5 percent.
Here at The Gender Report, we’ve been monitoring the web’s top articles based on links provided in the Project for Excellence in Journalism‘s weekly New Media Index roundups since January. PEJ’s reports the top five news stories and opinion pieces around the web in a Monday to Friday week based on commentary on blogs and social media sites. For the purposes of our study, we’ve chosen to focus on the top five in the blogosphere. When more than one link was provided on the topic, we’ve tried to monitor the first mentioned or the one that appears based on the writing to be more dominant, unless it is mentioned that articles shared the attention for that particular subject.
As we mentioned last month, August marked some changes to the New Media Index’s methodology, including the use of more sites to track the top stories as well as using a larger sample size and range of sources. (Read more about those change and the process here.) As a result, we’ve continued to notice changes in link diversity (particularly from blogs) and in topics, with more technology topics making it into the top five. As we’ve seen so far, this has meant a decrease in the number of sources and the percentage of female bylines. We’ll be continuing to monitor the differences in our results for the months following this methodology change.
Here’s what we found in the past month:
- Between Sept. 5 and Sept. 30, the New Media Index included 24 articles that could be checked. News regarding the new iPhone, usually from tech blogs, appeared every week in the top five. An apology message from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings regarding recent changes to the company’s services appeared in the top five two weeks in a row but is only counted once here. For three top stories during this time, no specific link was provided. Those topics were Facebook (No. 3, Sept 26-30), Google News (No. 3, Sept. 5-9), and Carol Bartz ousted from Yahoo (No. 4, Sept. 5-9).
In the stories we were able to monitor, here’s what we found:
- Women were 17.6 percent of sources in this month’s articles. The articles contained 28 male sources and 6 female sources.
- Half of the articles contained no human sources. Nearly all of those links were to blog posts with two coming from opinion columns. In addition, four articles featured only male sources.
- Only two articles or posts were written or produced by a woman while 19 articles were by one or more man. That means women wrote only 9.5 percent of articles or posts by authors of one gender or the other. One article was by a male and female. Two were by staff. This tops last month’s eight-month low of female bylines, which was at 10 percent.
We’ll be keeping an eye on these findings in the coming months to see if we deduce other trends emerging now that the methodology for the top five articles has changed. For past months’ findings as well as other statistics on gender and the online news, visit our findings and statistics page or view our six-month recap of all of our projects and studies here.