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Sobering Report Issued on Status of Women in the Media

By on Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Women’s Media Center issued a sobering report this week on the status of women in the U.S. media in 2014. This study takes a more comprehensive approach, looking at newsroom staffing, talk shows, radio and film. It summarizes a number of studies to paint a broad picture and also includes studies on social media use, magazine staffing and industry choices for PR grads. Here is a portion of the executive summary:

  • As newsroom staffing declined 6.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, the overall tally of women staffers continued to hover at 36 percent, a figure largely unchanged since 1999. Nevertheless, the count for women of color continued its more extreme fluctuations.
  • A three-month snapshot in 2013 of articles appearing on The New York Times’ front page showed that men were quoted 3.4 times more often than women, though the rate was not as high when women wrote the story.
  • At the nation’s three most prestigious newspapers and four newspaper syndicates, male opinion page writers outnumbered women 4-to-1.
  • The number of women in radio news jumped 8 percent from 2012 to 2013, narrowing one of the historically widest gender gaps in the news industry. Elsewhere in broadcast news, there were, as examples, losses in female on-air talent and broadcast managers.
  • White men continued to dominate the ranks of Sunday morning news talk show guests, except on a single MSNBC show with a black female host.
  • Two women—1.09 percent—were among the 183 sports talks radio hosts on Talkers magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list. The Top Ten among Talker’s news talk show “Heavy Hundred” included no women.
  • More than 150 print publications and websites covering sports—an arena whose editors are 90 percent white and 90 percent male—were slammed with an “F” in an Associated Press Sports Editors–commissioned study.
  • Over a five-year period ending in 2012, the 500 top-grossing movies had 565 directors, 33 of whom were black and two of that 33 were black women.
  • In the top 100 films of 2012—when women had fewer speaking roles than in any year since 2007—females snagged 28.4 percent of roles with speaking parts.
  • A dozen top decision-makers in the film industry said they perceived the pool of qualified women !lmmakers to be smaller than that of quali!ed men.
  • For production of the 250 top-grossing domestically made films of 2013, women accounted for 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, slightly lower than the 2012 and 1998 figures.
  • According to a two-month snapshot in 2013, men wrote 82 percent of all film reviews.
  • Women snared 43 percent of speaking parts in prime-time TV, according to the latest study, up from 41 percent previously. Those women, however, tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts.
  • More white women but fewer women of color have been directing prime-time TV shows but the overall numbers for women has remained virtually unchanged.

Download the report and read more. See coverage by TIME magazine, National Journal, Huffington Post, and Slate.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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