In the Spotlight: Q&A with the 4th Estate

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts featuring organizations working on issues related to gender representations in the news. View other posts in this series here.

Silenced: Gender Gap in the 2012 Election Coverage by the 4th Estate (Click to go to the site for more)

The 4th Estate released the report “Silenced: Gender Gap in the 2012 Election Coverage” last week. The report (see graphic) shows that even on topics related to women, very few of the sources quoted are, in fact, women.

The study showed that on topics such as abortion, birth control and Planned Parenthood, women are only 12 to 26 percent of quoted sources. Women are seen more often in women’s rights stories but still represent slightly less than one-third of quoted sources.

The study received attention following an article in The Daily Beast (Disclosure: I’m quoted along with fellow Gender Report co-founder Joy Bacon). Subsequently other media outlets and blogs picked up on the study and graphic, including The Atlantic (which also named it “infographic of the day“), Huffington Post, Slate’s XX Factor, and others.

To get to know a bit more about the organization behind this study, we spoke Michael Howe of the 4th Estate project via email about the work the organization is doing to analyze news coverage of the 2012 election, including the representation of women among quoted sources. Here’s what he had to say:

1. For those unfamiliar with your work, give us your elevator pitch — What is the 4th Estate?

The 4th Estate is mapping the public social influence of the media and newsmakers around the presidential election; so from a journalism point of view we see this as a means to raise the quality of the questions that we ask, hopefully in a manner that improves the understanding people have about the media information they are consuming.

2. What made you interested in looking at the gender gap in election coverage specifically?

Although it appears that we have come out of the blue, the technology behind the 4th Estate has been deployed for almost a decade. The 4th Estate team has been using the platform and the core methodology to perform behavioral and media intelligence work for a wide range of corporate and political clients. Over the course of these years, the technology behind the methodology has continuously improved. At this point, the technology is able to measure and visualize thousands of patterns in traditional and social news – gender being just one.

The 4th Estate team has been aware of the gender gap in sourcing for some time. When we started doing our work on the election, we figured this pattern would be present, and it was. The data matched our data from numerous previous projects covering a variety of domains and subject matters. We have seen these patterns repeatedly.

3. What do you consider to be the biggest issue when it comes to the representation of women in journalism?

We feel very unqualified to answer this question. As we mentioned above, we look for patterns and relationships within data in general – we were definitely not looking for gender data specifically. It popped out as a very noticeable pattern. As mentioned earlier, we have seen the gender gap in other data sets, not just within Election 2012 coverage.

It felt like it was important data to put into the public forum. But beyond publishing the findings, I don’t think we are comfortable interpreting these results. It really is for the public at large to debate what the results mean.

4. How is your organization a part of the solution?

The 4th Estate is not an advocacy organization. I have great respect for people doing advocacy work, but that is not what we are doing. We are examining trends, measuring changes, and bringing these observations to the public’s attention with visual representations. Our goal is to build a widely accessible tool that is performing real time parsing of news coverage across many domains, so people will be able to monitor and analyze on a continuous basis those topics that are of interest to them. We realize our data might be important for a variety of advocacy groups, but we believe our greatest value is in providing quantitative data and letting more qualified content experts make sense of that data.

5. What project are you currently working on that you’re most excited about? Share a little bit about it.

The building and designing of the 4th Estate project into a viable sustainable ongoing venture! In the short term, we are focused on election coverage, but there is so much untapped potential in the technology to explore and parse how large-scale societal issue after issue is being covered.

6. What else do you think is important for our readers to know about you?

We believe our data should be viewed as the beginning of a discussion, not the end of one. It should be a door, an opening, to a continuing discussion, not used as a hammer to ‘win’ an argument. We love information and putting it into a context that is relevant for decision makers.

Find out more about the 4th Estate by visiting its website at www.4thestate.net. Follow the organization on twitter @4thEstateVoices and “like” it on Facebook here.

Are you a member of an organization that looks to address issues of gender representation in the news? Contact us about being our next “In the Spotlight” organization by e-mailing genderreport[@[gmail.com.

In the Spotlight: Q&A with the International Women’s Media Foundation

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts featuring organizations making strides in the area of gender representations in the news. View other posts in this series here.

International Women’s Media Foundation

The Gender Report spoke with Nadine Hoffman, director of programs at the International Women’s Media Foundation, via email about the exciting work the organization is doing. Here’s what she had to say:

1. For those who are unfamiliar with your work, give us your elevator pitch — What is the International Women’s Media Foundation?

The IWMF’s mission is to support the advancement of women journalists worldwide. Since 1990, our organization has built a vibrant global network of individuals dedicated to this objective, with the conviction that women’s full participation in news media is crucial to furthering freedom of the press.

2. What do you consider to be the biggest issue when it comes to the representation of women in journalism and its creation?

“The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media”

In March 2011, the IWMF released a groundbreaking study, the Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media, including data from 522 companies in 59 countries. In our research, we looked at every level of the profession, collecting information from 170,000 news media employees from entry level to top management.

The global report shows that for women journalists in many countries, the glass ceiling is still a real phenomenon. This is especially true at middle and senior management levels. Seventy-three percent of top management jobs are held by men. In some regions, women’s representation is much worse than others. In Asia and Oceana, for example, women only hold 13 percent of senior management jobs.

Gender inequity in newsrooms is glaringly obvious at the top, but in reality it is a pervasive problem across the board. Under-representation of women in newsrooms was found in nearly half (44 percent) of all nations included in the study.

[GR: A panel discussion on this report was held Sept. 13 in conjunction with the Center for International Media Assistance. Contributors to the panel event included the report’s author, Carolyn M. Byerly, a professor at Howard University’s department of journalism; Liza Gross, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation; Shirley M. Carswell, deputy executive editor of the Washington Post; Mónica Villamizar, correspondent with al-Jazeera English based in Washington, D.C.; and moderator Suzanne Garment of the CIMA advisory council. View a summation of this panel event and watch for a video here.]

3. How is your organization a part of the solution?

The IWMF works to strengthen the role of women journalists in a number of ways. We actively cultivate women’s leadership by offering innovative training, including recent workshops as part of our Reporting on Women and Agriculture: Africa program in Mali, Uganda and Zambia. Our March 2011 International Conference of Women Media Leaders brought together almost 70 top women news executives from 40 countries to create a global plan of action advancing the status of women in media.

We’re also committed to training journalists – men and women – to employ a gender lens in their reporting , seeking out women as sources, investigating issues that affect them and telling their untold stories.

We are perhaps best known for honoring the bravery of women journalists with our annual Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement Awards. [GR: This year’s recipients will be honored at ceremonies in Los Angeles on Oct. 24 and New York on Oct. 27. Read about these women here.]

4. What project are you currently working on that you’re most excited about? Share a little bit about it.

Our Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Digital News Frontier program is one that we are really excited about. With generous support from the Ford Foundation, we’re giving seed funding to women journalists who want to start their own news enterprises, and supporting them through the first year of their entrepreneurial endeavors. We’ve created a call series tailored specifically to their professional development needs, featuring some amazing experts, and we’ve also offered an ongoing coaching component. We hope to expand this program in the coming year to include international women entrepreneurs.

5. What needs does your organization have? How can people get involved?

The IWMF is a small non-profit, and we rely on the strength of our network to advance our cause. We are always looking to enlist new supporters who share our mission. There are several easy ways to get involved

  • Follow us on Twitter @iwmf.
  • Like and friend us on Facebook.
  • Subscribe to receive IWMF updates on our website – www.iwmf.org.
  • Donate online – https://www.iwmf.org/donate.aspx.
  • Contact us about opportunities to collaborate on future programs and events.

Find out more about the International Women’s Media Foundation by visiting its website at www.iwmf.org. View our post on the foundation’s “Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media” here.

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Are you a member of an organization that looks to address issues of gender representation in the news? Contact us about being next month’s “In the Spotlight” organization by emailing genderreport@gmail.com.

In the Spotlight: Q&A with Global Girl Media

While most of our work here at The Gender Report is focused on identifying the problems and gaps in the representation of women in news coverage, we feel it necessary to take time to recognize those who are working toward solutions. That’s why, starting with this post during Women’s History Month and the week of International Women’s Day, we’re going to try to spend time highlighting an organization that is making strides in this area.

With each feature, we’ll be in correspondence with a member of that organization to have her, or him, answer five questions about its work.

First up, is…

GLOBAL GIRL MEDIA

The Gender Report spoke with Aime Williams, executive director and co-founder of Global Girl Media, via e-mail about the organization’s exciting work to empower teen girls through media training. Here’s what she had to share:

1. For those who are unfamiliar with your work, give us your elevator pitch — What is Global Girl Media?

Global Girl Media (GGM) develops the voice and self-expression of teenage girls in under-served and marginalized communities by training them to become citizen journalists, harnessing the power of new digital media to inspire self-esteem, community activism and social change. By linking young women internationally with seasoned reporters, educators and filmmakers, GGM empowers girls to make media that matters, improves media literacy, and encourages the promotion of healthier media messages about girls and women.

2. What do you consider to be the biggest issue when it comes to the representation of women in journalism and its creation?

Accuracy and complexity. We feel in particular the voices of young women from marginalized or otherwise under-served population are either absent or only heard from in times of war, disaster or crisis, oftentimes victimizing the subject.

Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of the international blog Global Voices, speaking at a recent TED talk stated, “Sure we are becoming more global, our problems are global in scale, economics, environment, but our media is getting less global by the day…” International news as a percentage of an American television broadcast was 35 percent in the 1970s and it is less than 12 percent today. Access to and authorship of media matters because it underpins how societies respond to the problems they face. In the words of the BBC World Trust, “This makes media not only relevant to the most urgent problems of poverty and marginalization — it makes it critical to solutions designed to address them.”

GGM believes that ensuring access to media information and building capacity for authorship of this information is particularly crucial where media resources are scarce, and therefore oftentimes skewed to a particular dominant ideology or bias.

3. How is your organization a part of the solution?

Giobal Girl reporters get tips from an ESPN/Brazil reporter during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. (Courtesy photo)

Our model is unique in that it pairs U.S. communities with international cities, creating a peer-to-peer international network of girls that can break down stereotypes by directly connecting and impacting each other through the internet. Training young women in new media journalism has the unique capability of augmenting all the other aspects of GGM’s activities, cross-cutting between issues of gender equity and self-esteem, cross-cultural communication and media literacy, reproductive rights and economic gains, etc.

What we are attempting to build with our media training program and distribution network is essentially a new model for development: one that sees authentic self-representation as a vibrant partner to economic growth, providing a viable structure for young women to take part in new media for human growth and development.

4. What project are you currently working on that you’re most excited about? Share a little bit about it.

Just as we strategically paired the cities of Los Angeles and Soweto, South Africa, for our pilot program, we have chosen Detroit as the sister city to our two initial international training sites — Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan (Iraq) and Beirut, Lebanon, for our program expansion in 2011-2012. Our reasoning derives from a perceived lack of media being produced from a female perspective in these regions, in particular, young Arab and Muslim women are either entirely absent from mainstream media or grossly misrepresented and stereotyped.

Given the mass freedom movements in this area the world, now is certainly the time for Global Girl Media to be there! In the United States, there is a global curiosity about Middle Eastern and Arab women. People want to know who they are, what they have to say. Michigan has a large Arab Muslim Population and is also undergoing a period of great change.

In Detroit, the national economic crisis could not be more acute, where an historic industry is being rebuilt and the very first Arab American Museum has recently opened. GGM hopes to work within all three communities to help draw parallels, encourage critical dialogue and provide a broader experience for each Global Girl it trains.

5. What needs does your organization have? How can people get involved?

We are always looking to build our capacity and expand our program. We have an ongoing need for office volunteers, as well as program partners for future development. If there are organizations that want to bring our program to their community, we welcome them to reach out to us. We are always looking for co-sponsors, corporate and foundation support.

Find out more about Global Girl Media by visiting its website at www.globalgirlmedia.org. Follow the organization on twitter @GlobalGirlMedia and “like” it on Facebook here.

Are you a member of an organization that looks to address issues of gender representation in the news? Contact us about being next month’s “In the Spotlight” organization by e-mailing genderreport@gmail.com.