Turning the gun around: using social media to create awareness, not perpetuate bias

While it seems as if technology has made it easier and easier for the news media to cover politics with a gendered bias, groups across the nation have taken social media into their own hands as a form of political empowerment and discourse. And rightly so, for social media is proving to be far more pervasive, timely and instantaneous than any other media, especially when it comes to its role the political landscape:

Taking this even further, Johanna Blakley argues that social media will be the end of gender. Could this be a way to end gendered bias in news coverage? Maybe. Below is Blakley’s Ted Talk about how social media has enabled to us to redefine our identities without relying on media companies to group us by demographics, and how women are dominating social media — which will revolutionize old media in the process. Tell me what you think of her theory below, and stay tuned next week when we dive into social network feminist movements that have made strides in ending unproductive portrayals of women and other minority groups.


Good news: more women writing about women

It’s not all bad — a theme that seems to be reoccurring within this blog. The OpEd Project, who’s “mission is to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world,” has conducted research on the number of women writing opinions and narrating our media. Their findings are encouraging, despite a still disproportionate number.

It’s also important, however, to see what female journalists have to say on this issue — for your can’t write about women’s voices in the media without actually taking into account those voices and and seeing how they view the issue. Below, a collection of quotes on the topic (click on their names to view the original source).

  • “I won’t argue here whether women are more sensitive in their coverage. But I will tell you this: Women listen to other women much more closely, and they pay much greater attention to how political and military developments affect individuals, particularly other women.” —Frida Ghitis 
  • Like many fields, journalism suffers from a combination of long-term structural issues and a lack of female applicants. … Shani O. Hilton, the deputy editor in chief of BuzzFeed, had a good piece in Medium last week about how difficult it is to build a diverse newsroom. She calls on editors and hiring managers to look outside their immediate networks and for women and journalists of color to actively network with the (mostly) white dudes who are doing the hiring. —Jessica Grose
  • American media is nowhere near achieving gender parity when it comes to who gets hired. … Despite the increasing prominence of women’s sports and female sports fans, sports editors are 90-percent mate, and 90-percent white. More than 150 sports newspapers and websites received an F grade for their hiring practices among women, failing to hire enough women as editors, columnists, copy editors, and designers.”Edirin Oputu








Women with the pen: female journalists’ role in political coverage

According to an Women’s Media Center, The 4th Estate Project calculated “… that from the presidential primary period (January 1 to April 15) to the general election (April 15 to August 25), 72 to 76 percent of newspaper stories covering the 2012 presidential election were written by men.” Concerning, right? Vince Beiser (pacificstandard.com) says maybe it isn’t a cause for alarm; “Today, many of the people who decide which reporters get to cover elections are women.The top editor of the world’s most respected news organization, The New York Times, is a woman. The top editor of Newsweek – still one of the nation’s most widely-read news magazines – is a woman. The top editors of AP and Reuters Thomson Digital – women.”

Nevertheless, Emily Bazelone (slate.com) argues that this disparity might because of the disproportionate number of women who play the role of primary parent — following the campaign trail is simply not an option for them. However, she goes on to note, “… the female print journalists who do cover the campaign write disproportionately about social issues ‘such as abortion, contraception, and women’s rights.'”

So is the lack of female political journalists partly to blame for the unproductive, negative coverage we see coming out of these media vendors? Possibly. The study done by the Women’s Media Center excludes blogs and opinion columns, mediums where Bazelon believes you can find more young women working than in traditional print publications. Come back next week as we go beyond how many female journalists there are working, and dive into “pink ghetto” — the content trap women have been stuck in since they were allowed to produce media.