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Vol. 42, No. 1, Winter 2014

NPC Panel: How to Increase Female Sources, Commentary

The persistent problem of underrepresentation of women as news sources and sources of commentary received a thorough airing at the National Press Club Jan. 13.

A distinguished panel of journalists, ably moderated by Linda Kramer Jenning, Washington editor for Glamour magazine, discussed why this is and how it continues to bedevil editors, reporters and readers while also compromising the quality of journalism.

With poor gender balance, "You're not going to get the full range of opinions," said panelist Sally Buzbee, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press. "I remember vividly during the Iraq war, the challenges of being able to talk to Iraqi women, and how one-sided that made much of our coverage."

But even without war and cultural barriers as explanations, women don't appear much in domestic news, either, as numerous content analyses have shown -- even when the subject matter directly affects them. This panel discussion didn't offer a magic solution to how to solve the problem, but instead offered a spirited conversation about what is possible, what is being done, and how women can assert themselves as sources, reporters and commentators to occupy more of the real estate on news and editorial pages. It's 107 minutes long and can be viewed here: http://www.press.org/news-multimedia/videos/ms-quote-why-are-women-missing-news

FAIR Analysis: Abortion Restrictions Up, Abortion News Coverage Down

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Julie Hollar has compared the Guttmacher Institute’s tracking of increased restrictions on abortions in the U.S. with abortion coverage in the nation’s two most prominent newspapers of record, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Guttmacher Institute said 22 states enacted 70 abortion restrictions during 2013, making 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year. Looked at over a longer term, Guttmacher said 205 restrictions were enacted during 2011-2013, but just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade.

Writing in FAIR’s Extra! Magazine (February 2014) Hollar analyzed Times and Post coverage of abortion by searching the Nexis news media database and found that coverage of abortion in “the papers with the most influence on national political debates had been trending downward since 2001.”

Sexting Study Raises Alarms for Parents of Middle-Schoolers

If you’re concerned about a young teen who may be sexting, a study in Pediatrics confirms you may have good reason to be.

“Sexting and Sexual Behavior in At-Risk Adolescents,” in the February 2014 Pediatrics gathered information from 410 children ages 12 to 14 about whether they had texted or emailed a sexual picture or message within the last six months, and about their sexual risk behaviors and intentions. The study found 22 percent of at-risk seventh graders participated in sexting, with 17 percent sending texts only and 5 percent sending texts and photos. Alarmingly, the authors said that sending pictures was endorsed significantly more by girls and by Latinos. Sending photos was associated with higher rates of sexual activity than sending text messages only.

The study authors conclude that as early as middle school, attention should be paid to teens’ electronic communication because sexting may be a marker for sexual risk behaviors that can have significant consequences, including pregnancy or disease. The full report is available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/01/01/peds.2013-1157.abstract

Global Media Monitoring Project Introduces International Ambassadors

The fifth Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), scheduled for 2015, will inaugurate the concept of “International GMMP Ambassadors,” who will represent the regions in which the GMMP is taking place. GMMP is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), based in Toronto.

The ambassadors are: Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro (Kenya), President, Global Fund for Women; Sharon Bhagwan Rolls (Fiji), Executive Director, Femlink Pacific, Fiji & Civil Society Advisor at U.N. Women; Nadia Al-Sakkaf (Yemen), Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, Yemen Times; and Jennifer Lee (USA), Filmmaker, Winner, Best of the Fest for Documentary: FeministStories.com

Virginia Teen Asks Disney to Create Plus-Sized Female Characters

Discussion about the body types of female Disney characters aren’t new. Most are wasp-waisted and pretty in a traditional Disney way. Now comes, for the first time, a Change.org petition that explicitly asks Disney to begin introducing plus-sized female lead characters. Jewel Moore, 17, from Farmville, VA, is asking for support – currently, the petition is on its way past 30,000 signatures.

Most comments published thus far echo similar sentiments, though some show disapproval and criticism of larger-framed females. See more at https://www.change.org/petitions/the-walt-disney-animation-studios-make-plus-size-princesses-in-disney-movies

Sexual Harassment Documented As Widespread for Women Journalists

Almost two-thirds of women journalists polled have experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work, according to the findings of the first global survey on violence and threats against women working in the news media. The survey by the Washington, D.C.-based International Women’s Media Foundation and the London-based International News Safety Institute was conducted to coincide with the UN’s Global Forum for Media and Gender. It tracks intimidation, threats and abuse, including sexual violence, physical violence, sexual harassment, racial harassment, ageism and digital security threats. It also measures prevention, protection and preparedness.

It found that the majority of threats, intimidation and abuse directed towards respondents occurred in the work place and were committed by male bosses, supervisors and co-workers.

The survey was carried out with funding from the Government of Austria and supported by UNESCO. It remains a live document and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/INSI-survey/

Samantha Scott, who designed the survey, told MRTW that “the data were collected by opportunity and snowball sampling — the former by INSI and IWMF inviting women in their databases to complete the survey and the latter, by those women who completed the survey inviting other people in their networks to complete it.”

Research in Depth: Eleanor Hart: How an Advice Columnist Guided A Community on Issues of Gender and Race by Kimberly Wilmot Voss and Lance Speere

Research in Depth: Who Is Wonder Woman? Gender Stereotypes and Heroism in Television Commercials by Yunmi Choi, Walter John Starr, Kayoung Kim, and Nancy Parish

Report: Courage at the Border: Female Journalists Report from the Mexican Drug Wars

Plus News, People, Books, Flicks, etc.!

Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972 and PDFs from more recent years. Indispensable for research!


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