Election 2012 coverage: another gender gap

Mostly men talking about 'wars on women'

Earlier this week, I wrote about the persisting gender gap in opinion media. Women’s voices were especially lacking in legacy media, and on ‘hard news’ topics like the economy and politics—both of which are just as much women’s issues as they are men’s, mind you—according to byline data collected by The OpEd Project.

Today comes more anachronistic, yet persisting data, in a tidy infographic from The Fourth Estate, a new project that monitors 2012 election coverage for various influences.

To see a larger version of this image, click here

In print stories, women accounted for 13 percent of sources quoted. On TV, they made up 16 percent. So stark were the results of Fourth Estate’s study into the political coverage gender gap, the infographic is titled “Silenced.”

Indeed, particularly given this political season’s variouswars on women”. In debates particularly relevant to women—on abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood, and women’s rights—the numbers, while slightly better, are still stunningly low.

As I pointed out in my story earlier this week, this gap is to some extent a reflection of gender gaps that exist at elite levels of power and government. Lawmakers and high-level politicos are both primarily male and among the most necessary sources for political reporters. This information is both useful for making better sense of these media gender gaps and for realizing the depth of institutional change it will take to shake them.

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Erika Fry is a former assistant editor at CJR.