Female reporter analyzes previous work for gender bias, results surprising

Journalist Adrienne LaFrance. (Photo credit: Honolulu Civil Beat )

Lady journo Adrienne LaFrance wrote an interesting piece this week about how she analyzed all of her published articles (for various publications) from the past year for gender bias.

The results were unbalanced, to say the least.

“We analyzed 136 of my stories published between Aug. 13, 2012 and Aug. 13, 2013,” LaFrance wrote.  “Over the course of the year I covered all kinds of topics — media, technology, the 2012 election, Hurricane Sandy, the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Boston marathon bombing…in all those stories on all those topics, I mentioned 1,566 men and 509 women.”

LaFrance found that only 25 percent of the 2,075 people mentioned in her reporting were women. She also discovered that “internationally, 24 percent of news subjects are female, according to the Global Media Monitoring Project.”

LaFrance’s findings pose the question of whether or not journalism is biased in terms of gender but her colleagues believe that women are underrepresented in society.

However, I thought she made a very important point when she said that journalists don’t look for sources based on gender, they look for whoever is most qualified to comment on the subject.

She also recognized that “time and access are among the biggest factors that determine who ends up quoted in the paper,” in that reporters are often limited because some sources aren’t available in accordance to deadlines or they don’t want to speak on the record.

Overall, I thought this piece was really interesting. As we discuss the evolution of the business of the media industry, we must also consider the evolution of the culture of the media industry and the impacts women have made and will continue to make.

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