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Who Covers Women’s Reproductive News? Men, Says Study

Men are writing, and are quoted most often in, the majority of news stories about women's reproductive health, says the Women's Media Center. (cohdra/morguefile)
Men are writing, and are quoted most often in, the majority of news stories about women's reproductive health, says the Women's Media Center. (cohdra/morguefile)
January 25, 2016

SEATTLE – Men dominate the national conversation about women's reproductive health, says a new report from the Women's Media Center.

Over a year's time, it says male journalists produced 52 percent of the articles on contraception or abortion, compared to 37 percent written by women. The rest didn't have bylines.

Soraya Chemaly, a Women's Media Center board member, says the report is important as legislatures head into session.

She notes in 2015, states passed 57 laws restricting reproductive rights, and hundreds more were introduced.

"The people who are most affected by these laws should be the ones whose voices we hear the most, and we are not hearing those voices," she states.

The study suggests a reporter's gender also affects who is quoted in these stories, with women citing female sources more often than their male counterparts.

The research focused on stories between mid-2014 and mid-2015, from a dozen major news outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Associated Press.

The context for stories was also different between genders, according to the research. Men tended to frame reproductive issues in political terms, while women were more likely to present them primarily as health care matters.

Chemaly maintains the cumulative impact on the national conversation is significant.

"The media outlets that were studied are the places that most people are getting their news from,” she says. “In aggregate, they make up the highest circulation media outlets in the country."

The report says men made up 41 percent of the interview quotes in articles about reproductive issues, compared to 33 percent from women. The remaining percentages were quotes attributed to organizations.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA