To Our Readers

Dear readers, visitors, and faithful supporters –

When we started talking about this idea of gender representation in a digital media world, we thought maybe we’d find some interesting articles here or there. But as we’ve found time and time again, the lights are still off for the majority of women in both bylines and media representation.

While we remain committed to this mission, we have recognized that some portions of the site have been lacking in recent weeks, and others could use revision. In light of this, we are excited to announce a re-commitment to our work, as well as some changes to our posts and focus:

  • Gender Checks – After careful consideration, we’ve decided to bring our Gender Check project to a close. While this project was helpful in providing us with a glimpse of gender in online news (see results from year one of that project here), we feel the need to introduce more systematic and nuanced studies of women’s representation. Watch for posts in the next week wrapping up that project and sharing our data from the four months of that study in 2012.
  • Byline Report – One of the new projects we are undertaking as a result is a weekly byline report from a number of online news sites. Data collection will begin July 1. Those reports will monitor bylines for a Sunday through Saturday week and be released the following Wednesday.
  • Week in Review – We will continue our Saturday posts, looking at trending gender topics. Look for tomorrow’s post in honor of Nora Ephron.
  • Women in Journalism: Reading Lists – This popular feature highlighting interesting reads on women and journalism will still be released each Sunday.

And, look forward to some new additions to our work, including continuing looks at the presidential election and its involvement with gender issues. We will start this work next week with a breakdown of what each candidate has said so far and where they stand on specific issues like women’s health.

As always, we are open to your thoughts and suggestions. Have a study you’d like to see us tackle or a question you’d like answered related to gender representations in online news? Feel free to get in touch with us via email (genderreport[@]gmail.com), social media or in the comment section below. We appreciate your continued readership and support.

Live now: The Gender Report transitions to a new design

The Gender Report got a new look this week, which we hope will give you, our readers, a better snapshot of our offerings.

After
Before

We use WordPress.com as our platform and decided to switch design themes to a look that would showcase what we have to offer. While we appreciated the functions of our previous theme, “Fusion,” for our first six months in operation, our advancement and further development called for something new. To that end, we selected “The Morning After,” a newer theme with a magazine style. Though no design is perfect, we feel this new theme will allow us more flexibility to highlight certain posts and features as well as more opportunities to display our content. In turn, we hope that gives our readers better access to our work and the different aspects of our project. In light of this switch, we’ll also be looking to add more visuals and graphics to our posts, which will enhance readability and add value to our posts.

The transition to that new theme occurred June 29 (Please visit our home page for the full effect), but we’ll still be doing some fine-tuning. Though the biggest design changes have taken place, you may still notice some more subtle changes in the days to come.

Even with this redesign, you can still expect to find the same monitoring, resources and research work on representations of women in online news. We’ll be continuing to put out our weekly Gender Checks and Week in Review posts as well as sharing new resources and our recent findings.

We welcome your feedback. Along with thoughts about the design, also feel free to let us know if there are features or post topics you’d like to see from us. Share your ideas in the comment section below or email genderreport@gmail.com.

Getting back on track

Our regular readers may have noticed the absence of usually posts on certain days in the past month. We apologize.

Due to life changes, moves, lack of Internet access and final projects, our schedules have been a bit off. We should be slipping back into our regularly scheduled posting routine moving forward.

With lots going on this week with the coverage of women in political scandals, expect to see some coverage of that in upcoming posts as well as getting back into our regular Gender Checks and news feed updates. (See today’s New York Times story for a snapshot – “Harsh Light on Two Men, but Glare Falls on Women.”)

Feel free to contact us with any questions or post ideas in the comment section or by emailing genderreport@gmail.com. Happy reading.

What are ‘Gender Checks’?

Starting today, the monitors here at The Gender Report will be conducting and sharing weekly Gender Checks for selected news websites across the United States.

So, what exactly is a “Gender Check”? It’s our version of a “check up” to quickly examine the gender representation in a lead article on a news website at a given time. These checks aren’t meant to be considered on their own, but we hope that overtime as we collect them we’ll be able to deduce some trends. Because of this, we urge our readers not to jump to conclusions based on an individual Gender Check.

In a Gender Check, we visit a website and select one of the current lead articles, based on prominence and position on the site’s home page. The information we gather includes the subject of the article, the gender of its author, and the gender, positions and order of its sources. We may also include notes or additional analysis as applicable.

We’ve picked two news websites with generally the same coverage area — one tied to an existing newspaper and another that’s online only* — from each of the four U.S. Census regions. We arrived at this number because eight sites to check regularly felt manageable to the two of us on top of our full-times jobs.

There are hundreds of other online news sites, so we hope our readers review any findings with the understanding that they are only snapshots of a few sites and further research would be needed to verify their validity across the board.

To get started, we’ve dedicated a day each week to one of the different geographic regions  — West, Midwest, South and Northeast — and the Gender Checks from its sites.

Stay tuned tonight for our first of many.

Update 1: We completed a full year of this project in January 2012. See the findings from the first year along with findings from our other studies here. Starting in February, we continued this project but began monitoring new sites in each geographic region. Read about this and other changes here.

Update 2: As of June 14, 2012, we opted to conclude the Gender Check study to make way for new projects. Review all past posts and findings from this study here.

*We realize that the Seattle P-I was once connected with a newspaper. However, now it’s online only and, for our purposes, we are considering it as such in our study. We’re interested to see if its transition has resulted in any differences between it and its peers that are still associated with an ongoing print product.

Gender and media: By the numbers

To give a starting point for readers of this site to understand what is known about gender representation in online and mainstream or traditional media, here’s snapshot of some of the numbers.

These figures come from the “Who Makes the News? Global Media Monitoring Project 2010.” This was the first time the study, which is released every five years, included Internet news as a pilot. The chosen day for the study was Nov. 10, 2009, and the study as a whole with all media platforms included media from 100 countries. Sixteen countries were included in the pilot study for online news based on their level of Internet access. The United States was not one of them, though some international news sites were.

Here are some of the numbers:

News subjects:
-24 percent of the people heard or read on traditional platforms like newspapers, television and radio were female in the sample.
-23 percent of the news subjects on the 84 websites monitored were women.

Story focus:
-13 percent of the news items in traditional media focus specifically on women.
-11 percent of the online news stories were centered around women.

Authorship:
-41 percent of stories reported on traditional platforms were by female reporters in the same countries as the Internet pilot. Overall, 37 percent of stories in the whole sample were reported by women.
-36 percent of the news stories in the online samples were reported by women.

Stereotypes:
-46 percent of the stories monitored in traditional media reinforced gender stereotypes, while only 6 percent challenged these stereotypes.
-42 percent of the online news stories were found to reinforce gender stereotypes and only 4 percent challenged them.

These statistics, and more detailed ones on each topics area offered in the report, seem to imply that online news sites follow the same vein as traditional news platforms when it comes to gender. However, it’s noted in the study’s executive summary that “the differences, some of which are statistically significant, point to a conclusion that Internet news is a format in which gender biases become not only more visible but even more concentrated than in the traditional news media.”

Those differences and their extent are some of the topics we hope to delve into further here at The Gender Report — specifically how they reveal themselves in U.S. online media in both news sites with roots in traditional media and those that are online only. Through our Gender Checks, we’ll be recording information similar to what was culled for the GMMP’s study on Internet news stories. We’ll see if our findings are similar.

Read the full report from the “Global Media Monitoring Project 2010” at www.whomakesthenews.org.