13 Jun 2013

Who Do Journos Listen To?

By Women In The Media Team

Today, the Women in the Media project tackles the sources journalists turn to for quotes and expert opinion. Whose voices get heard? The results show men feature overwhelmingly

So far in our Women in the Media investigation, we have found that:

Today our project shifts to what voices were heard in Australian media on 4 March, 2013. Are women fairly represented by the nine mastheads chosen for this study? The answer on this day is a resounding “no”. To appreciate the findings, remind yourself that women are slightly more than 50 per cent of the Australian population, and that the purpose of the media in a democratic society is meant to be to represent or give voice to all communities.

Key findings

  • Male sources overwhelmingly dominate the coverage.
  • The biggest round of sport is overwhelming male.
  • Even when sports round is removed, male sources were three times more likely to be quoted than female ones.
  • Business people quoted in stories were more than 90 per cent male. The voices of men dominated in politics, business and international news. Female sources were slightly more numerous than male sources in the education round. Female journalists were more likely to use female sources than male journalists.

A crucial aspect of reporting is journalists’ selection of their sources. Through this process, reporters and editors exercise power over who will get a voice and who will remain silent. Many articles have just one source, often effectively giving that source a “free kick” at promoting their views. Where there is more than one source, the first source tends to define the terms of discussion within the article. Sources further down the story are more likely to be in response to the first source.

There were 760 stories across nine publications. The mastheads were The Australian, five metropolitan newspapers, The Age, Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Sydney Morning Herald and three regional newspapers, Cairns Post, Geelong Advertiser and the Illawarra Mercury.

Of the stories we investigated, 235 were sports stories. As reported on Tuesday, these are overwhelmingly about male sports and sports people, by male reporters, quoting men, with images of men. With few exceptions, the sports pages are by men and about men. For the rest of the remainder of this analysis we have excluded sports stories. If sports stories were included, the proportion of male voices would have been even greater.

We coded all stories according to the field of reporting or “round”. Where it could be identified, we coded sources male or female. We also coded sources according to type of source — for example, business sources, professional sources, NGO sources and other sources from the community. 

To understand the role of the sources more clearly, we further divided the sources between first, second and third sources quoted in stories. (There were very few stories with more sources and we did not code further sources.)

On 4 March, 2013, there were 646 sources that could clearly be identified as male or female. Of these, 486 (75 per cent) were men, and 160 (25 per cent) were women.

There were 371 stories which had one source. Of these, 281 (76 per cent) were male and 90 (24 per cent) were female sources. Second sources were even more likely to be male, while third sources were still twice as likely to be male than female.

Note: To view the interactive graphs, please use the latest version of Safari.

There are two different ways of looking at sources. One way is to look at the type or role of the person quoted. For example, is the source a business person or a professional person? The other way is to examine whether sources of all types in different rounds of reporting are more likely to be male or female.

Types of sources
When journalists selected a first source with a business background to tell a story, they chose a male in 92 per cent of cases. When they chose a source from police or corrective services, women didn’t even get a look with; 100 per cent of first sources with police or corrective services background were men.

Professionals (eg. doctors, lawyers and teachers) were far more likely to be men and even the category including “all other workers” was strongly male dominated.

Even in community sources, which included “people in the street” and other sources not identified with a particular role, men were more strongly represented. Only arts and entertainment sources, and those representing non-government or civil society organisations, had slightly more women than men.

(A deeper analysis would compare these figures with ABS statistical data on gender breakdowns of occupation).

Proportion of male and female sources across rounds

For this second type of analysis, we examined the five biggest rounds to identify the gender of sources

The top five rounds were economy (including business and finance), politics, international, crime/law and media. Male voices dominated in all these rounds.

Male voices accounted for 136 of the sources (85 per cent) in the 78 economy stories we analysed. Politics was the second biggest round in which women were only quoted on 34 per cent of sources. The proportion of female sources dropped dramatically for the third biggest round, international. Of the 78 sources referred to in this round, male sources accounted for 92 per cent.

Interestingly, Julia Gillard accounted for 11 of 33 female sources in the politics round (33 per cent). It goes without saying that if we didn’t have a female prime minister, women would be far less visible in politics.

Of all rounds,reporters in the education round gave women the strongest voice with 53 per cent of the 19 stories. The gender balance was also close to even in the health and entertainment rounds, with 45 per cent and 39 per cent of sources respectively.

Are female journalists more likely to use female sources?
In short, yes. To answer this question, we divided stories into three categories: those written exclusively by males, those written exclusively by females and those with joint male and female bylines. The results are as follows:

A total of 282 gendered sources featured in the 152 stories with a male-only byline. An overwhelming 233 (83 per cent) of these sources were male.

From the 119 stories with a female-only byline, there was a total of 212 gendered sources. Of these, 147 (69 per cent) of sources were male and 65 (31 per cent) were female, almost double the number of female sources present in stories written exclusively by males.

Twenty-six stories had a shared male and female byline. In these stories there were 48 gendered sources. This category had the highest percentage of female sources (35 per cent). Although it was a much smaller sample size than the other those categories, the results raise the possibility that, when male and female journalists share the reporting role, they are more likely to have a greater gender balance with sources.

Part of the differences between sources selected by male and female journalists might be accounted for by considering the fact that women reporters tend to be concentrated in fields where women are more likely to be quoted. These findings should lead to further research as they have important implications for the visibility of women in public life.

Masthead comparisons
We analysed data in this category to determine the gender gap across masthead for females in terms of voices quoted in stories. We included all stories with at least one gendered source in this count. As can be seen from the graph, the gender gap was greater in the Queensland regional publication Cairns Post and best in the Victorian regional publication the Geelong Advertiser. The gender gap was greater in the big News Ltd publications The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian than Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. 

Actors in stories - male and female
Casting a wider net, we also counted the number of individuals or “actors” in a story, whether or not they were quoted.

In our sample of data, there were 1101 male actors and 462 female actors. The 70:30 ratio continues. The finding does suggest that women were slightly more likely to be characters or subjects in stories than be quoted on this day.

Our methodology of selecting a single day for parts three and four of our project is similar to that used by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) which since 1995 has surveyed women in the media at five year intervals. In her introduction to the international GMMP 2010 report, Margaret Gallagher wrote:

“If through an unequal distribution of narrative resources, the materials from which some people build their account of themselves are not theirs to adapt and control, then this represents a deep denial of voice, a deep form of oppression.”

In 1995 the global snapshot was startling in the evenness of its findings of gender gaps across newspapers, radio and television in 71 countries. Womens visibility was uniformly low. While the picture has not been static, the project reported in 2010 that “voices remain overwhelmingly those of men” across 108 countries.

In 2010, QUT journalism academic Angela Romano reported for the GMMP that on a single day in November 2009, women accounted for 24 per cent of the 1012 news sources who were heard, read about or seen across a sample of media. Neglect of female sources was particularly noticeable in sports news. Women made up only 1 per cent of the 142 sources who were talked about or quoted in sports stories in Australian media.

Our findings suggest that the situation does not appear to have improved over more than three years.

Asked to respond to New Matilda’s findings, Romano said that our findings confirm other academic studies of women in the media. She wrote:

“This snapshot of newspaper activity confirms and strengthens the findings by other researchers, who find that women are underrepresented as bylined reporters in the Australian news media. Several researchers have conducted snapshots of Australia’s news media, and they offer the same picture. Women reporters are a minority when it comes to bylined stories. There are occasionally exceptions in reporting so-called “women’s topics”, such as lifestyle stories. The clearest disparity is in sport news, where female reporters are seldom seen.

“The research also shows that women are also minority figures as sources who are quoted or discussed in news media stories. While a snapshot will always provide a limited view of what is happening, it is important to note that regardless of when these snapshots have been taken or which cities have been studied, they always tell the same story. Women are substantially outnumbered in the Australian news media as both reporters and sources of news.”

How to change women’s lack of visibility and voice is the question. 

Analysis was compiled by Wendy Bacon, Elise Dalley, Julie Posetti, Lauren Frost, Joanne Griffiths and Rochelle Widdowsen. Data analysis and visualisation by Elise Dalley.

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Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 14:00

Here is an example of how articles like this perpetuate the problem they identify as needing an alternative direction:

"Where there is more than one source the first source tends to define the terms of the discussion within the article. Sources further down the story are more likely to be in response to the first source."

This is how referencing always works. But everything is in reference to the Title chosen to begin with.

"How to change women's lack of visibility and voice is the question."

Choose a headline that focuses attention on the real issues. Stop hedging issues by referring through other's opinions. Stand up for principles that stand in their own right, and the issues which deeply effect women on a daily basis where they really live will make them apparent as the experts to show and speak on these issues.

Simple really when you think about it. Maybe a little harder to get positive attention to begin with, but worth pursuing in the circles where this is understood and heard until the secret gets out. Women ARE powerful, women ARE knowledgeable, women ARE experienced. But they are only dangerous if cornered and attacked, just like anyone really... and more likely to avoid such attention as well ;)

Where there is more than one source, the first source tends to define the terms of discussion within the article. Sources further down the story are more likely to be in response to the first source. - See more at: http://newmatilda.com/2013/06/13/who-do-journos-listen#sthash.bt21vg9r.dpuf

Where there is more than one source, the first source tends to define the terms of discussion within the article. Sources further down the story are more likely to be in response to the first source. - See more at: http://newmatilda.com/2013/06/13/who-do-journos-listen#sthash.bt21vg9r.dpuf

wendy bacon
Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 17:29

Thanks for the comment Patience. If what you are saying is that the explanation is confusing, you may be right but what we have been aiming for is to explain the thinking behind the analysis. You can't assume that people know what we mean by sources, how important they are and so on. 

The headline is written to to attract interest and make people want to find out more.- On Tuesday the headline - Men dominate news by lines - was more straightforward.

As for saying that the final line is too weak - you could be right but I don't think so. Over the many year's that I have been involved in these issues, people have come up with different strategies, Yes of course women are strong and survive the most extraordinary oppression - but just asserting that " we are women, we are powerful'  isn't going to change the daily reproduction and production of gender inequality through the media, and our culture. I agree that it's important to organise for change in ways that allow women to exercise power - that's why I think Destroy the Joint is a great initiative. 

Some people have suggested special materials for journalists; others talk about reforming hiring practices; others think more women at the top will change this  - yet others think we should give the MTM a miss altogether. At the end of the day we are looking at corporate media here which is really about make money, including through women's consumption and bodies. 

Over the next week, we will have  pieces that will discuss the issues and change - I hope you post more comments. 

I still feel it is bloody hard to change both patriarchal structures and the media. Am I wrong? But I'm not giving up - that's why I am working with others on this project. 



Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 19:25

You go for it Wendy. It took the feminist movement 50 years to defeat Child Slave Labour, they brought in a man to tell them how. They decided to attack the women married to the Business Leaders who made money from those poor kids. Maybe you need to do the same, make the wives look like Bimbo's or something.

The look what your husbands are doing, are you a door mat wife.

Name and shame or something.

Your article very interesting and yes you are 51% and you have every right to be heard, seen and listened to, you are the other half of the Human race, without you we would be like one legged people.

Maybe you could run a, "and you Guys reckon Muslim Man treat their women badly" Campaign. Most Muslim Nations have already had Female Presidents and Prime Ministers.

So Ignorance and willful ingnorance runs deep.

Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 00:12

We're killing half the Arab world and you girls are concerned about "jobs for the girls"
The Journos don't listen to "men" they listen to a bunch of Zionist thugs.
So while Julia says things like
"As the White House has said today, there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and that is the view of our own security personnel as well."
Young Labor Women's Network can show their love for chocolate.

Oh yea, we've come a long way since women use to be merely sexually objectified. Have you watched any TV lately.
What exactly has the "women's movement" achieved? apart from breaking the working masses down further into splinter interest groups.
Don't tell me "getting jobs for women", Economic necessity did that.

Not too concerned over the Arab girls we've killed and more to come; topic after topic here is proof of that.

Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 00:46

Is that right Jackal012, I'm sure some Zionist Women's group would love to promote that slogan, Call Frank Lowy, perhaps he'll fund it.
While we're on the ethnicity angle, obviously encouraged here,perhaps they could run with..
"don't be a Metzitzah Shiksa, work for a principle and not a price"

Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 09:45

I agree with you phoneyid.

Women are worried about. "The results show men feature overwhelmingly"

But what about "The results show the Rothshields feature overwhelmingly" in Assasinations and have controlled the Media to stay on top, to remain the money men.

I agree women seemed to be concern with their corner of the world, seemingly self interested in how we are collectively controlled, just as men have controlled them, Bosses have Controlled workers, bankers have controlled Nations and yes their are far bigger implications for the world that go un-noticed by the people you mention, women.

Labour has always been a Heaven for people of certain Faiths, if you watch the Docco below it suggests that the Tsar was assasinated because of his help to Abe Lincoln who was Fighting the Money man in the States. Yes, I too think that the Feminist Movement is being cleverly manouvered in certain directions so that they too are blinded, kept ingnorant of the real problem of the world. 


Yes, their are bigger things in the world then the lot of women, here.

But the working classes and women, I suppose forget that it wasn't the sheep who rose up and gave the world the Labour movement in the same fashion as the French Revolution.

Even the French Revolution was started by a single person, a woan who was worried about her man in jail. The Queen street Riots in Auckland N.Z came about because of a single man.

It was strong individuals who believed in workers rights and stood up to thug Farmers of the day and finaly Corporations. It was always individuals who motivated the dumb sheep and or cleverly steer them into the wilderness's.

Look what happened to the strong individual who motivated women, who started it all. Ms Baker I think. She spent the rest of her days living in a shanty shack, broken and forgotten.

The rich certainly got their revenge on her and women allowed it just as women allowed their men to bomb women and children during during the most violant war of our time up until then.

So, yeah the human race is doomed because women are 51% of the population and are proving that they can be just as thick or Bone Headed as the man, Thatcherism did not do anything for the world but destroy the workers movement and socialist agenda's within England.


Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvUGGIzSxXo




So? Where do we go?.

Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 10:45

Where do we go?
As a bunch of metrosexual, vegan, hedonistic, horse jumps racing objectors carrying "the White Man's Burden" we will rise with indignation when some Arab attempts to combat the sexual objectification of women by comparing scanty clad women to uncovered meat and we will bomb the crap out of Syria.
And then we'll sing God Save The Queen as she knights some paedos and murderers that we voted in and our kids can follow the debates on TV over the desirability of Pippa's butt compared to Kate's.
Then we'll "euthanise" any "unproductive" old fart that asks for it and lock you up for daring to speak against the protocols for the dominant paradigm.

I'll be in the cell next door, and we will hold our heads high and treat the paedos, and child killers etc exactly how Western humanitarianism should, and does only BY it's jailed, and the other mugs will pay their taxes to feed us and follow the prescribed media topics so they end up "balanced" and not angry like us.

yep, sounds plausible to me.

Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 11:22

Marxist Feminism or Socialism in Panties exposed


Posted Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:03

First of all I would like to congratulate the Project Team on the thoroughness of the research which must have taken an enormous amount of time. Also, presenting statistics in an interesting way is not a job for the feint-hearted.

I won't address the stats themselves, because there is little point in doing so. They speak for themselves. However I would like to make some general comments that still pertain to the issue of women in the workplace and industry, because having adult professional daughters in the workplace, I wish the best for them.

I think that when women started to enter the workforce and the professions in much greater numbers in my generation, they underestimated the competitiveness of the business world. Women actually believed that there was a social infrastructure out there to ensure that fairness prevailed, whereas there is nothing of the kind. Power is a raw concept, and there are no rules except superficial ones (laws, ombudsmen, elected representatives, lawyers, judges etc). Power to influence events (which is what we are really talking about) is about skullduggery. What club do you belong to? What is your religion? Where did you go to school? Who are your friends? Were you in the same Rugby Union team? Did you go to the same university? Are you a Mason? Were you in the same regiment? Remember the time we all got pissed together and graffited the cop shop?

We can cry to the heavens that it should not be so, but it just is.That is the essential difference between women and men. We know it. We accept it. We live or die by it. We cop it on the chin and then move on.

Now, I think some women have realized this, but have attempted to enlist the entire female race as their club. That will not work. That club is too big. Human beings don't work on that scale. Success in this hostile environment comes about through belonging to many small, targetted clubs and then networking as much as possible. Even if you succed in the same way, it won't get any easier. You will be more "successful" (say, get more by-lines) but under more pressure. And one day, you will discover that the females in your "clubs" will be opposed by females in other "clubs", and you are back to square one. Welcome to our World!