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News Stories on Women's Reproductive Issues Being Covered by Men

A new study says men are writing most news stories about women's reproductive rights. (Carrie Cain)
A new study says men are writing most news stories about women's reproductive rights. (Carrie Cain)
January 25, 2016

BALTIMORE – Male voices and perspectives are blocking out females – even in coverage of women's reproductive health – according to new research by the Women's Media Center.

It says in the 12-month study period journalists who are women produce 37 percent of articles on contraception or abortion, compared with 52 percent by men. The rest of the articles didn’t have bylines.

Soraya Chemaly, a Women's Media Center board member, says the report is especially 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 news stories, with women tapping female sources more often than their male counterparts.

The research shows overall, men accounted for 41 percent of all quotes in articles about reproductive issues, compared to 33 percent from women. The remaining quotes were attributed to organizations.

The context for stories is also different between genders, according to the report.

Male journalists tended to frame reproductive issues in political terms, while women were more likely to present them primarily as health care matters.

Chemaly says 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 points out. “In aggregate, they make up the highest-circulation media outlets in the country. "

The research focused on a year's worth of stories from 12 of the nation's biggest news outlets, including the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press.

Chemaly believes the report shows although the majority of students in journalism schools are now women, newsrooms continue to be dominated by men.




Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD