The following is a joint press release from the Conference of European Churches and the World Association for Christian Communication Europe region on the Global Media Monitoring Report, which analyses the role of women in the media across the world. Please click here for the full global GMMP report and highlights in English, French, and Spanish. Please click here for the full GMMP regional report for Europe. A summary and highlights from the Europe report are below this press release.
Pour la version française, veuillez cliquer ici.
Press Release No: 15/46
23 November 2015
Progress towards equality of women and men in the news media has virtually ground to a halt according to the findings of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) released on 23 November.
The results of the world’s largest research initiative into gender portrayal in news media show that:
- Worldwide, women make up only 24% of the people heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly the same level found in 2010.
- Women’s relative invisibility in traditional news media has crossed over into digital news delivery platforms. Only 26% of the people in Internet news stories and media news Tweets combined are women.
- There is a global glass ceiling for female news reporters in newspaper by-lines and newscast reports, with 37% of stories reported by women, the same as a decade ago.
The GMMP is a project of the World Association for Christian Communication, with support from UN Women. The first such survey was conducted in 1995, and at five-year intervals after that.
The 2015 report includes data from 114 countries and provides analysis and case studies at global, regional and national levels.
According to the GMMP Regional Report for Europe, “Women continue to be marginalised from the news agenda, mostly not even reaching one-third of news sources or reporters, although they have made improvements in terms of reading the news as announcers.”
Dr Karen Ross, Professor of Media at Northumbria University, who coordinated the GMMP project for Europe, said: “At a time when we have more women presidents and prime ministers than ever before, women only comprise 19% of sources or subjects in political news stories reported in TV, radio and print and 17% in new media articles. There is something very wrong with this picture.”
The results of GMMP 2015 have led WACC and its GMMP coordinators to call for an end to media sexism by 2020. Proposals made in the GMMP Regional Report for Europe to improve women’s inclusion in the media’s news agenda include:
- Training programmes by media organisations to improve media professionals’ understanding of current and emerging gender issues
- Issues of gender in/equality included in journalism education and training courses
- Further research and studies as well as debate and discussion on the GMMP reports
- Media companies to establish gender policies
- Gender-inclusive language used in media reports
Stephen Brown, President of WACC’s Europe region, stated: “News media shape the way people view the world and this research shows that women’s visibility in news is no better now in 2015 than five years ago. We need to tackle this situation by engaging men as well as women in news rooms, media management and training for journalists.”
The worldwide media monitoring project is implemented collaboratively with women’s rights organisations, grassroots groups, media associations, faith-based / interfaith organisations, university students and researchers across the world.
“Women’s rights are human rights,” said Conference of European Churches General Secretary Guy Liagre. “The GMMP sheds light on how far we in Europe have to go. Through our human rights training programme and upcoming summer school on women and children’s rights we hope to help close the gap revealed by this important study.”
Please click here for the full global GMMP report and highlights in English, French, and Spanish.
Please click here for the full GMMP regional report for Europe. A summary and highlights for the Europe report are below this press release.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.
WACC Europe is part of the World Association for Christian Communication, a global network that promotes communication rights for social justice and sustainable development, working with people of all faiths and none.
Global Media Monitoring Project 2015 – Regional Report for Europe
Summary and Conclusions
In general terms, the visibility of women as both subjects of news and reporters of news, has changed hardly at all over the past five years and over the 20 years of the GMMP has increased slightly but certainly does not mirror the great strides that women have made in all aspects of social life, from politics to science to entertainment. While there was some variation in women’s visibility so that some countries have seen increases in women working as journalists, while other countries have seen a reduction or at the very least, a standstill. The same plus and minus trends can be seen across European media, with gains in some areas in some countries being countered by losses in others: there are no consistent patterns so that slight improvements and slight reductions balance each other out to produce a more or less steady-state so that women’s visibility in the news is no better now in 2015 than five years ago.
Women continue to be marginalised from the news agenda, mostly not even reaching one-third of news sources or reporters, although they have made improvements in terms of reading the news as announcers: this is, arguably, a consequence of the ‘feminisation’ and ‘intimisation’ of news, where women’s softer voice and eye appeal (TV announcers are rarely over 35 years and mostly attractive women) conforms more readily to news-as-infotainment. It should also be noted that announcers were counted against each news item in a programme rather than just once for each appearance, and this methodological quirk could potentially skew the findings if some shows had many more items than others, so their presenters would be over-represented in the statistics. Women’s views are mostly sought as members of the public or in their domestic role as mothers, daughters and wives: they are much less likely to contribute to stories as experts, as professionals, as politicians or as business people. The news is still dominated by men’s voices talking about things in which they have the starring role, voices of authority . Citizen voices, in general terms, are heard much less frequently.
On the other hand, the traditional stereotype of women as victim no longer holds quite so true and there are decreasing stories of women as victim of gender-based violence although women still comprise the majority of sources who speak in that role. In some countries, Germany for example, stories about gender discrimination are seen as ‘old-fashioned’ because women are regarded as being able to have it all, so victims are much more likely to be men in contexts of war and accidents. Disappointingly, we cannot look to new media to provide a more welcoming environment for women either as sources/subjects or writers of news and in most countries where online and twitter feeds were coded, women were generally less visible than in the more traditional media outlets.
In summary, the ongoing problem for women’s relationship to media is twofold, we are rendered invisible from large parts of the media agenda and when we are allowed to speak, it is within a narrow repertoire of story types and from an equally narrow range of role positions. We are marginalised from many areas of political and economic life (decision-making) because our voices and views are mainly invited to contribute to the less important areas of the social and the cultural (infotainment), thus perpetuating notions of men’s occupation of the public and rational sphere and women’s side-lining to the domain of the private. These gender-based allocations are reinforced by the frequency with which women speak as the voice of popular opinion, in their familial or relationship role (wives, mothers and girlfriends), as victim and eye witness. Men, on the other hand, speak as politicians, experts and professionals: they are the voice of authority while women are the voice of the populace. This is not the reality of women and men’s lives in the real world but given the painfully slow rate of ‘progress’ we have seen over the past 20 years, it is hard to see how the media will begin to reflect the lived reality of its citizens without a concerted effort on the industry’s part to change the picture. We offer a few thoughts below on how that change could be encouraged.
ACTIONS IN THE POST-2015 ERA:
When we asked national coordinators to suggest actions which could be undertaken to improve women’s inclusion in the media’s news agenda, many made very similar comments and we have composited some of them below.
- Redefine what and who counts as news – so-called ‘news values’ which determines newsworthiness needs to be re-evaluated and made fit for purpose for the 2010s.
- Managers should be sensitised to gender biases and stereotypical thinking. They should be encouraged by grants and publicity if they promote non-stereotypical journalistic practices and writing. For example, for several years there has been a prize awarded in Romania, for young journalists who publish stories on racial, ethnic and gender discrimination. Civil society, for instance the Centre for Independent Journalism, organises national and regional debates on men and women in the media, debates to which journalists, researchers and students are invited.
- Media organisations should initiate training programmes to improve media professionals’ understanding of current and emerging gender issues and their various manifestations. Raising the awareness and strengthening the capacities of media professionals through offering regular educational and vocational training programs geared to the acquisition of in-depth knowledge of gender equality and its crucial role in a democratic society.
- Issues of gender in/equality should be included in the syllabus of journalism education and training courses.
- Debate and discussion on the GMMP as well as other research and studies should be encouraged: it is obviously useful to engage women and men working in the media, in universities, unions and associations of civil society with the aim of promoting a pluri-vocal conversation, based on respect for different professional perspectives and competences, but focused on common objectives and concrete goals.
- A gender policy for all media companies should be established and gender quotas should be introduced for the composition of teams who produce the news.
- Language and terms which misrepresent, exclude or offend women should be eliminated. Instead, neutral terms that are gender-inclusive should be used.
- The representation of female experts in the news could be increased by using the expertise and database of existing organisations such as VIDM and Zij spreekt.
- Media organisations should be more pro-active in sourcing male voices in non-traditional areas and roles. Men and women should be portrayed in a wide range of roles, both traditional and non-traditional, in paid work, social, family and leisure activities. Men and women should both be seen as taking decisions to support the family and in household tasks and home management.