Women in the Media
As you watch, listen and read the news today and this week, think about these statistics:
When W was first selected, the media watchers Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting looked at who appeared on the evening news on ABC, CBS and NBC. Ninety-two percent of all U.S. sources interviewed were white, 85 percent were male, and where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican.
Those numbers haven't changed much. According to the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center, on the three main U.S. broadcast networks, 87 percent of "expert" sound bytes are provided by men.
On the Sunday talk shows, it's worse. The ratio of male to female guests is 9 to 1. After 9/11, the frequency of women guests on those shows dropped an additional 39 percent, according to the White House Project.
The picture isn't as bleak when it comes to women in management. Women currently hold 35.5 percent of newsroom supervisory positions, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That's slightly better than 33 percent in 1999. Overall, women make up 37.7 percent of the newsroom.
And then there are magazines. A great website, womentk.com, tracks the ratio of male to female writers in national general interest magazines, including The Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The ratio of male to female bylines in those magazines is 1,037 to 355. That's 1,037 male writers and 355 female writers.
Because so many of you have probably gotten used to seeing so many men on television, it's important to point out that on cable television, the only women who have their own shows are Paula Zahn, (extreme fluff), Nancy Grace, Rita Cosby and Greta Van Susteren. Grace, Cosby and Van Susteren spend their valuable airtime on murders, kidnappings, lengthy court cases about murders and other sensational stories.
The media is still a man's world and the lefty press isn't any better than the mainstream. Why is this important? Because women and men come to the table with very different life experiences and views than men. When I started out in radio, I was the only female on an all-male staff. The only stories about women's issues came from me. The only stories about how a merger would impact people, rather than pocketbooks, came from me. It's not that the men didn't care about these issues -- it's that they didn't think about them. And that's why it's important to fight for and encourage more women to get into management. At the end of the day, that's where the ultimate decisions are made.