Welcome to our Byline Report, a project aimed at surveying authorship at online news websites.
Research has long demonstrated a gender gap in who writes and produces the news, but less is still known about how it has materialized online.
The Global Media Monitoring Project (2010), which included websites for the first time, found that women reported 36 percent of stories from the online news sites of 16 countries. The OpEd Project included two online news sites among the 10 it examined for its byline survey — Huffington Post and Salon. Based on their findings, men wrote 64 percent of articles at the Huffington Post and 78 percent at Salon.
In our own year-long Gender Check study, women reported 32.2 percent of lead articles on the eight websites monitored. The four online-only sites had slightly fewer female bylines at 30.5 percent compared to 33.9 at newspaper websites.
The current study
The present study aims to continue these efforts by examining the byline counts from further online news outlets to enhance our understanding of any gender gap.
Six websites were selected from the Columbia Journalism Review’s Guide to Online News Startups. Two websites were randomly selected from the three top editorial staff size filters used in the database (More than 40, 21 to 40, and 11 to 20). The project began July 1, 2012. RSS feeds are used for monitoring articles published from each site. A main or all news RSS feed is being used wherever possible. The exception is Politico, for which the “2012” RSS feed was selected for monitoring.
Articles are monitored for a Sunday through Saturday week and findings will be released in a simple report the following Wednesday. The report will include percentages (rounded to the nearest 10th of a percent) of female and male bylines from each site, as well as the shared and staff/wire bylines. It is important to note that a single week should not be considered as indicative of a site’s gender breakdown, which is why we’ll also be looking at and sharing trends that emerge over time. In the future, we’ll also look to compare the byline breakdowns to staff breakdowns to see if any differences exist.
Counts like these serve several purposes. They are useful monitoring tools to gather and track information about representations in media. They can also draw attention to any disparities and, as a result, spur discussions about why they may exist. We hope to contribute to larger discussions about women’s representation in the media through this study.
Meet the Sites
The following are the six sites selected for the study and some brief details on them. This post can serve as a reference throughout the study.
- iWatch News (The Center for Public Integrity) – This is a non-profit investigative site with a national coverage area. It is the only site in the current study that had at a woman listed among its principal staff members reported in the database (See our previous examination of news sites’ principal staff here). Its principal staff members included one man and one woman (www.iwatchnews.org)
- Politico – This is a for-profit site covering national politics. All three of its principal staff members listed are male. (www.politico.com)
- ProPublica – This is also a non-profit investigative site with a national coverage area. All three of its principal staff members listed are male. (propublica.org)
- Slate – This is a for-profit general interest site. Its two principal staff members are male. (www.slate.com)
- California Watch – This is a non-profit investigative website covering California. The database reports one male principal staff member for this site. (californiawatch.org)
- Texas Tribune – This is a non-profit site covering politics in Texas. Its two principal staff members are male. (texastribune.org)
Keep up with the study by visiting our “Byline Report” page. For more information on gender representations in online news, check out “Findings and Statistics.” Additional research on women’s representation in the news media, can be found on our “Useful Resources” page.
Have questions or suggestions? Let us know in the comment section or by emailing genderreport[@]gmail.com.