Beyond Newstalk, Gender Bias in News Media is Systemic

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The current Wireless podcast from Flirt FM features a discussion on gender equality in radio broadcasting with DCU FuJo’s Dr Debbie Ging.

Considering the recent controversies surrounding Newstalk, Dr Ging explained that the issue of gender equality in broadcasting runs deeper than the gender breakdown of presenters. It is also manifest in the topics that are discussed, the time-slots afforded to certain topics, and the use of sources and experts. Citing the 2015 Hearing Women’s Voices study , she noted that male voices make up 72 percent of radio time in news and current affairs programming across RTE, Newstalk, and Today FM.

As the Irish coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project, which tracks gender representation in news media, Dr Ging points to the consistent evidence of gender bias across the 20 years of the project. “This suggests what we see, read, and hear in the news is not the outcome of some arbitrary or random editorial decision-making process, but something much more structural and systemic.”

This systemic bias relates to the lack of women in senior decision-making roles as well as the broader under-representation of women in politics and science news and their over-representation in domestic and light news stories. More broadly, she notes that there are social, organisational, and cultural issues that need to be addressed to make gender equality possible.

To this end, studies of gender representation in media are important tools for gender advocacy because they enable “campaigners, both outside and within media organisations, to highlight the continuation of women’s’ marginalisation in news content and news production”.

Listen to the podcast here (Dr Ging appears from 00:13:25).

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