Women in journalism: Reading list 1/27/2013

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

Inaugural diversity: When the media employs the term, what does it mean? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Sundance Institute and Women in Film Release Unprecedented Study on Women Directors (Women in Hollywood)

The hidden side of women’s military service: sexual assault (Columbia Journalism Review)

How Some Men Harass Women Online and What Other Men Can Do to Stop It (Ms Magazine Blog)

Broadcasting’s gender imbalance is inexcusable after Expert Women’s Day (Guardian)

Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Testimony and the Men Who Fear Her (BlogHer)

In Te’o interview, Couric shows value of follow-up questions (Poynter)

What the Manti Te’o Scandal Reveals About Women in Journalism (Huffington Post)

How a princess can help Saudi women find their voice (CS Monitor)

Council Candidate Balks at Campaign Finance Questions From ‘Pretty Girl’ (DNAinfo.com)

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad: ‘Every week they try to smear me, discredit me’ (Guardian)

Barbara Walters recovering, home soon (Politico)

Rachel Nichols Joins CNN and Turner Sports (CNN)

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.


Moving forward: Plans for Year 2 of The Gender Report

Last week we celebrated one year since the founding of The Gender Report with a series of posts on what we discovered during our first 12 months (Review those posts here). Now it’s time to think about the future and what is to come in year two. Here’s what we have in store:

Gender Checks

Starting today (Monday), we’ll be reinstating our Gender Checks, but with several changes. The concept of this project will remain the same — weekly monitoring of lead news articles from eight U.S. new websites. However, we will be switching out the websites we monitor in each geographic region. For the South, we will be monitoring the Patch site for Buckhead, a neighborhood in Atlanta, as well as the print-based Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the West, we will take a look at the Los Angeles Times‘ website as well as the state-wide, investigative journalism site, California Watch. The Northeast will transition out of New York to focus on two Boston sites: the Boston Globe’s boston.com and Open Media Boston. As we look at the Midwest, we’ll move north to examine the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago News Cooperative.

In addition, we’ve added a few new monitoring areas to our actual checks. We’ll be including the subject area, based on the Global Media Monitoring Project‘s news stories classification system (Click for a PDF of the system). In our first year, we went back through and classified stories, but this year we will be including those classifications in our original checks. We’ll also be including the word count of articles in our checks. This is in response to comments by Kira Cochrane (and reinforced by Elana Zak) that byline counts are only one method for determining women’s level of representation and that a study of the number of words by female and male authors may be better. We’ve taken that to heart and will be measuring that throughout year two as well.

Week in Review

In addition to continuing our weekly look at top news stories from the week involving women (our Week in Review posts), we will also be following some of these stories in a more long-term fashion (look for the first trending topic in this week’s post). We will also be incorporating weekly polls to get more of your feedback involved in these stories, as well as a monthly quiz to test your knowledge of the top news stories from our site as well as other media sources. The Week in Review is not meant to take a particular angle on these stories or necessarily offer original reporting. Rather, these posts help aggregate multiple stories about the same topic to compare sourcing and potential biases.

Women in Journalism: Your Reading List

In addition to our Week in Reviews, we’re adding a new weekly post that will point readers in the direction of interesting articles from the past week related to women in journalism and media. Many of the stories and posts we’ll look to include here are already regularly shared on our Twitter feed. We’ll just be pulling them together in one place for those who may have missed them.


We have two projects planned to draw attention to those who work in the field and on some of the issues we discuss on this site.

In year two, we plan to continue our “In the Spotlight” series featuring organizations that are working on issues of gender representations in the news. We’ve published Q&As with Global Girl Media and the International Women’s Media Foundation in our first year, and plan to expand this to an every other month feature. Starting in March, we also plan to incorporate regular Q&A posts with female journalists about their experiences in the news industry. If you know of a person or organization we should feature, please email us at genderreport@gmail.com.

Guest posts

One of our goals this year is to increase the number of voices present on the site by soliciting guest posts on topics of interest to our readers. Possible subject areas for guest posts include experiences of female journalists, the representation of women or gender in the media, the treatment of issues of gender in news coverage or current events, and those who are working for change in these areas. Check out our new “Write for Us” page for more information.

Other projects

While we will not be continuing our monitoring of the New Media Index this year, we do have a number of other projects in the works. These will be unveiled in the coming months.

We welcome your input and suggestions on topics or studies The Gender Report should take on. What would you like to see from us in year two? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter using the hashtag #GRdiscuss.

With one year down, we realize we are just starting to get a handle on the depth of possibilities for our site. We hope year two will offer even more insights and findings to add to conversations around women in the media.

COMMENTARY: A year’s lessons

Editor’s note: In January 2011, we set out to examine the ways in which women are represented in online news both as sources and as authors. To mark our first year here at The Gender Report, we’re revealing our findings from our year-long studies as well as other statistics and commentaries in a series of posts. View other coverage of our one-year anniversary here.


When we started this project, we had a fairly simple question to ask: To what extent are women both represented and participating in print and online media?

After a year, we’ve managed to come up with a few answers, but mostly just a much longer and complex list of questions that we don’t have answers to.

Yes, we can look at the frankly dismal number of bylines and sources from the New Media Index and our own monitoring projects (less than 20% overall, and only a little better in findings from the Gender Check project). For two women passionate about producing media, it just reinforces the status quo we’ve both experienced in our professional lives.

But I think our findings are more disappointing as two women who are passionate consumers of, and advocates for, good journalism. Sitting next to each other in our first college level journalism course, one of the first lessons we learned was about balanced sources. Luckily, we had a professor that valued balance not just as a way of using token sources from opposing sides of an argument, but also that a story should reflect the culture and society it covers. So for a country that’s 51 percent women, why are we still being used as the token “female” source in a story with double, or sometimes triple, the male sources?

One of the answers we have is that we need more women in journalism as both reporters and editors. Newsrooms that reflect the population may be more apt to cover its needs and voices. Some studies suggest women may be more attune to including alternate voices, such as more female sources, in their stories, depending on newsroom culture and training.In our studies, we found that articles by female authors contained 4 to 28 percent more female sources than articles by males, though more research is needed.

However, in order to get more women as expert sources, we also need more women in positions to be experts in their fields. This is especially true in politics. This was demonstrated in our look at the representation of women by article subject, as stories on politics and government had the lowest percentage of female sources. This is not particularly surprising given that 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. So the likelihood that a female will be on the random call sheet for a political officer’s opinion is much lower to begin with, let alone when considering the added stigma these women still face about their authority in some political circles and, consciously or not, in the eyes of some journalists. Similar gaps exist in the sciences and business worlds.

But the goal of our work is not to say women need to be treated with some sort of quota system. In fact, it is the opposite. Until we have more female congresswomen or CEOs or researchers or even journalists, the women we do see used are often used as the “token” female opinion, and her comments are seen as representative of her gender, rather than her position. As we move into a presidential election season, we fear this trend will only escalate, as politicians try to court female votes or cater to “women’s issues,” as if men aren’t stakeholders in education, family planning or health care.

We hope this next year not only improves the quantitative measures of gender in the media, but also the qualitative attitude shift towards more balanced discussions that see all participants as individuals with important things to say.

Whether that hope becomes a reality or not, it is our goal to continue to seek the answers to our original question. In doing so, our intent is to draw attention to these issues in meaningful ways and gain a greater understanding of the representations of women and gender in the media. Up next, we’ll share our plans for our second year here at The Gender Report.