Women’s issues have featured prominently in the 2012 presidential campaign thus far. Although one might expect that news coverage of women’s rights, choice, and health care would feature women as expert sources, this is not actually the case. Instead, the journalists reporting these stories and the sources they quote are predominantly male. As Megan Carpentier reports in Raw Story, “when issues of gender and family intersect with politics, a study by The 4th Estate shows that most mainstream reporters, bookers and hosts turn to the standard political interlocutors: men.”
The 4th Estate study shows that in both print and broadcast news, across a range of issues, more than half of the sources quoted are male. For example, in print coverage of birth control, 75% of the quoted sources are men, and just 19% are men. (The remaining 6% quoted are organizations.) On television, “Hardball” (MSNBC), “Special Report” (Fox), “Face the Nation” (CBS) and “State of the Union” (CNN) all feature more than 75% male guests.
Corporate media already favor male experts on major topics such as the economy, politics, law, science and technology. Now male voices also dominate corporate news coverage, in print and on the air, regarding women’s issues. Carpentier concludes, “The minute more than a handful of dedicated women are paying attention to abortion, birth control, the fight to retain access to either or even our right to vote, the mainstream media calls in the male cavalry to explain our bodies and rights to us.”
Megan Carpentier, “Men are even experts on women in the mainstream media,” The Raw Story, May 31, 2012, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/31/men-are-even-experts-on-women-in-the-mainstream-media/
“Silenced: Gender Gap in the 2012 Election Coverage,” The 4thEstate Project, June 1, 2012, http://www.4thestate.net/female-voices-in-media-infographic/#.T8egCr93QTn
Student Researcher: Cameron Meyers (Santa Rosa Junior College)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)