Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Good and the Bad about Women's News in Newspapers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Good and the Bad about Women's News in Newspapers

Article excerpt

The good news is that the number of women appearing on newspapers' front pages has more than doubled since 1989.

The bad news is that on those same pages, women mentioned in a positive light tended to be entertainers rather than leaders and authorities, according to the sixth annual Women, Men and Media survey of print and broadcast news.

For example, while "Skategate," the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan story, dominated the news - 70% of the Olympic broadcast stories were about or made reference to this saga - there was barely mention made of the women leaders in the federal government.

Even Hillary Rodham Clinton, the woman leader mentioned the most, received minimal coverage during the survey period.

The WMM survey looked at the front and local front pages of 10 major-and 10 small-market newspapers around the country, as well as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news conducted, men were referred to or solicited for comment on the newspapers' front pages 75% of the time, a decrease from last year's 85%.

Women, however, were referred to or quoted on front pages only 25% of the time, although that was the highest percentage recorde in the study's six-year history and was a substantial jump from 15% in 1993.

Most of the front-page stories were written by men (67%), as were the oped or equivalent pieces (72%). The average number of front-page bylines from women was 33%, and the percentage of women writing op-eds was 28%.

But just because a women wrote a story, or op-ed or column, does not mean she will quote another woman as an expert.

For example, the study found that the Enid (Okla.) News and Eagle, which had an overwhelming 91% average of women's bylines, referenced women in stories only 23% of the time.

There was an increase in the number of women appearing in front-page photographs, up to 39% from 34% in 1993, the most since the survey began. Men still dominated photo appearances, with 67% of the front-page photos, although that was a drop from the 73% recorded last year.

There were days in which there were no references to, bylines from or photos of women on the local front pages of certain papers, although for the first time, there were days in some papers when women appeared in equal or greate numbers to men in all categories.

USA Today was the only paper studied that included references, bylines or photos of women in all its front-pages every day in February. …

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