Media Gender Bias: Women Present Only 26 Percent Of News Stories, Study Finds

Who gets more face time in the media: Men or women? The Women’s Media Center analyzed 27,000 pieces of content produced over the course of three months by 20 media outlets in an attempt to measure the balance of male and female journalists in the media. The result? It’s mostly men.

Overall, women represented only 36.1 percent of journalists with bylines or on-camera appearances during the last three months of 2013, the report found. Men contributed the majority of bylines in every news outlet, both print and online, and even stories on news wires were mostly written by men. Not a single news topic was covered primarily by women.

The gender disparities between individual outlets was sometimes surprising. The New York Times, generally thought of as a liberal publication, gave a smaller share of its bylines to women (31 percent) than any other outlet. The conservative Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, had the second-highest percentage of female bylines (43 percent), topped only by the Chicago-Sun Times. As for online outlets, Fox News had a higher percentage of women writers (38 percent) than the Daily Beast (30 percent).

The outlet that came closest to gender parity was the Huffington Post; 48 percent of its bylines belonged to women, versus 52 percent for men. MSNBC also deserves special note; out of all of the Sunday news shows, it was the only channel to give a majority of airtime to guests who weren’t white men. Also, 93 percent of evening news stories on PBS are presented by a woman; this is largely due to the fact that Diane Saywer hosts the channel’s flagship news program, PBS NewsHour.

Still, the gender gap is pretty huge.

“Unequivocally, it matters when all American women—51 percent of the U.S. population—get our just due across the vast media landscape,” said Julie Burton, the group’s president. “Only when women are equal partners in the multi-layered work of deciding what constitutes a story and how that story might be told can we paint a more textured, accurate picture of the worlds that we all—male and female—inhabit.”