We began our Gender Check monitoring project in January 2011, aiming to monitor eight U.S. news websites weekly, two from each geographic region.
After the first year of our Gender Check project, women were 26 percent of sources in our sample of 354 articles. Additionally, women had 32.2 percent of bylines overall.
Starting in February 2012, we switched the websites we were monitoring with the intent to complete a second round of the project. Due to some changes in store for the Gender Report as well as some monitoring challenges, we decided to conclude this leg of the project after roughly four months.
Here’s a breakdown of our findings for that time period:
Round Two: Feb. 13, 2012– June 14, 2012
During these four months, we reviewed 100 articles, two in each Gender Check. After cleaning up the data, results from 95 articles are reported here.
The West (Los Angeles Times and California Watch) and Midwest (Chicago Tribune and Chicagoist) were monitored for the full 18-week period. Two articles from the Midwest were later discarded and one was missed as we reevaluated. That is because we’d originally started the project by monitoring the Chicago News Cooperative, which subsequently halted publication at the end of February. We then started monitoring the Chicagoist in its stead.
In addition, seven weeks of monitoring were completed for the Northeast (Boston.com and Open Media Boston) and South (Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Patch Buckhead). Seven weeks of Gender Checks from the Northeast were completed between Feb. 15 and April 11. For two of those weeks, Open Media Boston could not be monitored because the site had not been updated since the previous week. The South had seven Gender Checks between Feb. 13 and March 26.
While we felt it was important to wrap up our study and share what we found in the few months we’ve done of its second year, we’d like to remind our readers that these are very small sample sizes and therefore the data should be viewed with caution. Further research and time would be needed to verify any validity across the board.
For each Gender Check, we looked at two websites from that region — one connected with a newspaper and one that is online-only. We selected the top or lead articles on their websites at the time of the check and collect information on the author’s (or authors’) gender and the genders of the human sources referenced among other details. (For more on what Gender Checks are, read our introductory post here.)
The articles included in this sample contained 98 female sources and 243 male sources, making women 28.7 percent of human sources whose gender could be identified.
Thirty-nine of the articles we examined, or 41 percent, had only male sources. Seven articles had only female sources and 12 articles contained no sources.
Here’s how sourcing broke down by geographic region:
- West: 140 males, 66 females (Women at 31 percent)
- Midwest: 47 males, 16 females (Women at 25.4 percent)
- Northeast: 25 males, 4 females (Women at 13.8 percent)
- South: 31 males, 12 female (Women at 27.9 percent)
Additionally, we break down our findings by news sites associated with a traditional newspaper and those that are online only. Here are those results:
- Newspaper website: 124 males, 43 females (Women at 25.7 percent)
- Online-only: 119 males, 55 females (Women at 31.6 percent)
In our sample, 23 articles were written by a woman and 62 by one or more man. Four articles had a shared byline between men and women. Six were by staff and/or a wire service. That meant women had 27.1 percent of bylines of one gender or another and 24.2 percent overall.
Here’s the break down of bylines by geographic region:
- West: 9 by a woman, 24 by men, 3 by a man (or two) and woman
- Midwest: 9 by a woman, 17 by a man, 1 by a man and two women, 6 by staff/wire service
- Northeast: 2 by women, 10 by men
- South: 3 by a woman, 11 by a man
Here’s how women compared in bylines between newspaper sites and online-only sites this month:
- Newspaper website: 13 by a woman, 27 by men, 4 shared, 6 by staff/wire service
- Online-only: 10 by a woman, 35 by a man
Review findings from the first year of the Gender Check project here. To look at other data on gender representations in online news, check out our “Findings and Statistics” category.