Women in journalism: Reading list for 7/14/2013

The Gender Report provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. The links below are to noteworthy articles on topics related to women in journalism and the media during the past week. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here.

Reading List

The Honorable ‘Girlie’ Senator From The State Of New York (NPR Ombudsman)

NPR’s ombudsman asks for guidelines how to fairly cover women politicians. We have some. (Name It. Change It.)

Should you mention her shoes? Maybe. (by Meg Heckman)

Quick Profile Comparisons (Flip The News)

Wired’s profile of Google engineer leads with anecdotes about her wardrobe (Poynter)

REPORT: The Sunday Morning Shows Are Still White, Conservative, And Male (Media Matters)

Against All Odds, Female Reporters Lead in Syria (Daily Beast)

Photography Exhibition Challenges Stereotypes of Women in Sri Lanka (Global Press Institute)

ESPN To Air Documentary on Women Sports Journalists Who Fought for Professional Access and Treatment (Media Report to Women, the Blog)

The First Female CEO of a Television Network Offers a Springboard for Other Women (Huffington Post)

The Times’s New Culture Club: Young female foursome tapped to lead arts coverage (New York Observer)

Forbes Exec Meredith Levien Tapped For Top Advertising Job At New York Times (Forbes)

We encourage readers to submit suggestions of articles to include in future editions of this feature by sending an email to genderreport[at]gmail.com. For links to articles like these throughout the week, follow @GenderReport on Twitter.

Women in journalism: Reading list for 6/30/2013

The Gender Report provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. The links below are to noteworthy articles on topics related to women in journalism and the media during the past week. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here.

Reading List

Video Volunteers’ Female Reporters Bring New Voices to Rural India (MediaShift Idea Lab)

Media coverage of appearance hurts women candidates; People who challenge need to show data (Name It. Change It)

-“Very uncool: running a story about ultimate fearless champion Wendy Davis that leads with her “petite” demeanor in “pink running shoes.” Very cool: those pink running shoes.” (Jezebel)

Wendy Davis’ filibuster was important, but not as important as her shoes (Name It. Change It.)

Women at the forefront of investigative journalism in Mexico (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)

21 Examples of ‘Serious Journalism’ From Women’s Magazines and Websites (The Atlantic)

Are Women’s Mags Serious Journalism? (HuffPost Live)

BBC journalist received ‘threatening’ tweets from Turkish mayor (The Guardian)

NPR names Tracy Wahl executive producer of ‘Morning Edition’ (Poynter)

We encourage readers to submit suggestions of articles to include in future editions of this feature by sending an email to genderreport[at]gmail.com. For links to articles like these throughout the week, follow @GenderReport on Twitter.

The debate: Is Newsweek’s cover of Michele Bachmann sexist?

It’s been all the “rage” across media platforms this week: Is this Newsweek cover of GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann sexist?

As soon as Newsweek posted this TwitPic of the week's cover Aug. 7, the debate began over whether the image of Michele Bachmann is sexist.

The cover (right) features a close-up of a wide-eyed Bachmann with the headline “QUEEN OF RAGE” that some are saying makes her look “crazy.” The accompanying story has received far less attention.

This isn’t the first time Newsweek has come under fire for its cover of a female politician. Many on both sides have drawn comparisons to a cover of Sarah Palin in running shorts two years ago that was deemed “sexist.” (This also isn’t the first time charges of sexism toward Bachmann have come up in campaign coverage and its not likely to be the last.)

Conservative commentators, like Michelle Malkin, have said the image shows the mainstream media’s liberal bias and have particularly called into question the treatment of conservative women.

Jessica Grose at Slate’s XX Factor said the cover was “unnecessarily unflattering” and pulled out past covers of Republican male candidates that were done using a serious tone (though these were before current editor Tina Brown took over the magazine, as was the Palin cover). Jon Stewart made a similar criticism of Newsweek’s cover photo during “The Daily Show” this week, noting “…Here’s what you can’t say about Michele Bachmann: That she is not photogenic.” (Watch the video here).

The National Organization for Women spoke out against the cover through the Daily Caller. From NOW President Terry O’Neill:

“It’s sexist… Casting her in that expression and then adding ‘The Queen of Rage’ I think [it is]. Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man – has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man.”

Gloria Steinem herself has called the photo “borderline.”

Others, like Joan Walsh, have said Brown has “nothing to apologize for.” She points to the fact that there are plenty of shots of “a deranged-looking” George W. Bush, John McCain and Howard Dean that have cropped up in the past. She also linked to a piece from 2006 with what she called “crazy-scary” cover images of Al Gore and Sen. Mark Warner.

As for Newsweek, Brown responded by defending the cover and releasing outtakes from the shoot to show the other options the magazine had and that display a “similar intensity.” In a statement, Brown said, “Michele Bachmann’s intensity is galvanizing voters in Iowa right now and Newsweek’s cover captures that.”

Bachmann herself has for the most part shrugged off questions about the cover by saying, “I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it really.”

What do you think? Is the cover sexist? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

Commentary: Six lessons from The Gender Report

Editor’s note: Six months ago, we set out to look at how women are represented in online news both as sources and as authors. To mark our progress, this week we’re reviewing our findings as well as unveiling new statistics based on what we’ve uncovered thus far in a series of posts. View other six-month coverage here.

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When we started this venture six months ago, the idea sprouted from a general curiosity: What did online journalism mean for women in the media? We’d both worked in various print media, and seen the struggle women faced in newsroom representation, visual images, biased coverage and with other obstacles. We also saw print media as a whole quickly becoming a dwindling force in the overall media market and influence. So we combined these two ideas, asking what would happen to women as the conversations shifted from the front page to the home screen.

Yesterday, we published a roundup of all of our statistical findings up to this point, but we also wanted to look at our work in a different way. Here are six observations we’ve made so far:

1. Niche markets have more influence in the mainstream: In the past, a “women’s issues” publication had little hope of breaking into the mainstream conversation. Now, through the help of social media and constant re-reporting of news, a story first covered by one of these publications can easily shape or make its way into the mainstream coverage. We saw this just this week when a World Pulse story on breast ironing inspired CNN to follow suit and it became CNN’s No. 1 story that evening.

2. The next six months can be a turning point: We’ve already included two Week in Review posts about the presidential primaries’ coverage of female candidates and the role women will play in this election. Presidential elections are the Christmas of the media in terms of commentary and dueling opinions. We can hope that it will not involve repeating some of the same mistakes as the 2008 race.

3. Stereotypes are not what they used to be: When we asked friends and followers what region they thought would have the least representation of women, almost everyone quickly answered “well the South of course.” In fact, this proved to be the opposite, with the sites we monitor in the Northeast posting the fewest female bylines and sources (at least thus far).

4. Stereotypes are still exactly what they used to be: Whether it was coverage of sexual assault cases, abortion, women in politics or health care, the fair portrayal of women has not seemed to improve with the shift to online journalism. And while coverage of certain topics, like female athletes or some fresh faces to politics has brought some balance, we still see rape victims’ clothing described, feminism deemed a dirty word, or health care for women portrayed in any way but healthy.

5. The media still reflects cultural realities: In the majority of our Weeks in Review, it was not necessarily the media’s coverage of topics that was newsworthy, it was the comments made about the topics themselves that gave them top billing in the news cycle. While it was true in some cases the media’s interpretation of newsworthiness or the angle of a story gave us pause, in far more cases we were interested in the nature of the story itself. This is especially true in our look at the disappointingly minimal number of female sources used.

We don’t think journalists are looking at a list of potential sources and intentionally and consciously excluding women; in some cases, women have to hold positions of authority to make this list in the first place (This issue of women as expert sources as well as non-expert sources will be one we’ll be looking at more in the future). We need more female politicians, and lawyers, and stock brokers, and government watchdogs, and business executives, if we expect them to ever be represented equally as sources for these top stories.

6. Slowly but surely, progress is ahead: Despite the still dominant male bylines that have transferred over to online outlets, stories by online-only news sites did include a slightly higher percentage of women as sources. And as more bloggers and grassroots sites take hold, we can expect (we hope) to see more women contributing to the narrative, and hopefully both men and women shifting the type of coverage stories involving women receive.

We follow several national and international groups that are working tirelessly on behalf of women and girls, including on media representation, and the power of the Internet is giving them more of a voice than they could have accessed in just traditional print media. Groups like the Girl Effect, The Women’s Media Project, the OpEd Project, the Women’s Media Center and countless others have similar missions to ours, and are doing marvelous work. (We featured one such group, Global Girl Media, during our first six months and hope to do the same with others in the future.)

We’ve also seen online petitions and campaigns promoted by these organizations and/or started by individual women draw attention and make a difference in challenging advertising approaches and media coverage of subjects like rape. And now with a women at the helm of our newspaper of record, we can only expect both traditional newsrooms and online platforms to follow suit and include more women in their staffs.

Let’s keep the momentum going.

Coming soon: Next week we’ll be starting a discussion on what issues you’d like to see us tackle in the future as well as what you solutions you think there are to women’s representation in the news media. Watch for it and speak up to share your thoughts and opinions.

Weiner resigns, highlights gender differences in political performance

The past week’s events in politics have brought a new attention to the presence, or lack thereof, of women in political positions.

Anthony Weiner, who resigned this week from Congress after his lewd online behavior became public, was just the latest male politician to be criticized for inappropriate sexual behavior while in office. His announcement followed the tails of former presidential candidate John Edwards’ criminal trial for his alleged use of campaign funds to cover up his affair in 2008. The Gender Report also has covered the actions of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and IMF chair Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Several news commentators used the latest scandal to point to gender differences in politicians’ actions and approaches to their elected offices. The New York Times reported that women in the House introduce more bills, participate more vigorously in key legislative debates and give more of the one-minute speeches that open each daily session. In 2005 and 2006, women averaged 14.9 one-minute speeches; men averaged 6.5. Kathryn Pearson, the researcher behind this data, commented that “ women in Congress are still really in a situation where they have to prove themselves to their male colleagues and constituents. There’s sort of this extra level of seriousness.”

The Associated Press reported that voters believe female elected officials are more likely to focus on their jobs and less prone than men to distraction or scandal.

Women currently hold 16.6 percent of the 535 seats in Congress and 23.5 percent of the seats in state legislatures. There are 6 female governors; of the 100 big-city mayors, 8 are women. Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, Rep. Michele Bachmann is currently the only female candidate for the GOP.

The New York Daily News commented that Weiner’s scandal actually could help female candidates who may run for his vacated seat, because they could capitalize on voters seeing all male candidates as having the potential for another scandal or inappropriate behavior while in office.

Other reports pointed to underlying gender differences in sexualized behavior that happens regardless of the person leading a public or private life. Virginia Rutter, writing for CNN,  noted that Americans gravitate towards political sex scandals as another manifestation of men’s exploitation of power and the victimization angle of the women involved. A Washington Times article spoke to some of the women involved with Weiner online who say the disagree with the victim-like labels. At this time only one of the women he messaged or contacted online has been identified as a minor.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm told the AP  women succeed in office in part because they bring many “traditionally female” qualities to the job like a willingness to build consensus and seek solutions rather than fights.

“Men in power get a lot more attention from the opposite sex than women do. The temptation of that, the flattery, the ego is more pervasive as a result… Women in office typically don’t have men coming onto us. We’re so busy trying to get the family together, multitasking and getting the job done.”

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.