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Vol. 42, No. 3, Summer 2014

Dare We Hope for Improved Coverage of Female Political Candidates?

As the clock ticks inexorably down to the political season, where the ranks of female candidates still remain relatively small, we’re watching to see how women running for office are described in the media. MRTW has featured research and commentary on this for years, with the message to candidates changing very little: It’s still true that how you look and act is going to draw outsized attention compared with how you think.

Slow Advance for Media Women, Say Analysts and Reports

Several thoughtful analysts with unique opportunities to observe newsroom change and interpret it have weighed in with their perspectives on the status of women in news media now. It’s sure not what we had hoped for.

Study Updates, Confirms Dearth of Female Op-Ed Columnists

University of Texas-Arlington scholar Dustin Harp’s newly published study has found that while 40 percent of female-penned columns at the top U.S. newspapers were about hard-news subjects such as politics and economics, women writers most often continue to be relegated to writing about so-called feminine topics, including parenting and health. Of more concern is the lack of space allotted to female columnists on opinion pages.

Online Safety a Civil Right, Expert Says; Women Especially Vulnerable

University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks, discussing cyber stalking and revenge porn, asked, “Since we haven’t addressed our offline problems, how can we expect to create an online utopia?”

Hostility toward and harassment of women has migrated from the street and the workplace to the Internet. Those fighting it are taking a cue from the civil rights movement, building evidence that cyber attacks are nothing less than civil rights violations.

Franks has worked with 10 states that have revenge porn laws and is working toward a federal law that would make this extreme abuse of high-tech character assassination illegal (by gary at testsforge). She led a highly interactive session as the speaker at the Commission on the Status of Women’s mentoring luncheon at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Montreal in August.

NPC Panel: Legacy and New Media Challenging for Women Journalists

A Poynter Institute-sponsored panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington June 30 focused on several facets of women’s participation in journalism: the appalling numbers of women in key jobs in legacy media and new media, worsened in the last half-decade, stalled or declining across all platforms; and research and anecdotal experiences showing that women in executive positions are regarded as behaving appropriately when advocating for others and inappropriately when advocating for themselves.

At the same time, panelists reported advances in the type and breadth of journalism women now work in, such as reporting from war-torn areas. The worst for women in terms of numbers and clout: sports reporting.

Research in Depth -- The Cinderella Scientist: A Critical Reading of the CBS Series, “The Big Bang Theory” by Alexis J. Leon

Research in Depth -- Occupying Space Outside Porn-Chic: Female Heroes in Contemporary American Cinema by Kristie McKienan

Commentary -- Digital Depression: Where Are the Women in Tech? by Tracy Everbach

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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