Tag Archives: official sources

feminism gender journalism Reporting

Women making news, as reporters and sources

In their article, Lynn Zoch and Judy VanSlyke Turk find women have less representation than men on both sides of the newsgathering business-both as reporters and as sources.  Their data also suggests that female reporters are more likely to quote women than male reporters and that the low female source representation may be an accurate reflection of a world where men dominate most official positions.

The authors broke the study up into five questions.  First they found reporters relying heavily on official sources.  About three quarters of all sources were identified as officials (middle or top management or simply called “officials”). Second, they found about 70 percent of the sources were male and that the imbalance was highest in international news and lowest in education and culture.  Male sources were also more likely to be earlier in the story and have longer quotes.  Third, they found that male and female reporters were equally likely to quote official sources, though female reporters were more likely to quote middle management than male reporters.  Fourth, women were more likely to use female sources than men, 26.5 percent to 18.9 percent, respectively.  Finally, they found that the answers to the first four questions suggested an answer to the fifth: that the media present an image of the world where information is controlled by (mostly) men in official positions.

None of the findings are very surprising.  There are still more male than female reporters, and the world of officaldom is still (and perhaps more) male-dominated.  At one point the authors suggest that the reasons female reporters are more likely to quote middle than top management include a lack of access to top officials or that they expect problems and settle with middle management.  Perhaps this is more related to the fact that they are more likely to use female sources and that there are more females in middle management than top.  If female reporters are, for example, actively seeking female sources, then they would be forced to quote fewer top officials, because almost all top officials are male.