More than eight months into their "Decision 2012" coverage, many of the nation's top newspapers have already made their decision: Give the bulk of the election coverage to the boys.
According to a report released on Monday by the Women's Media Center, three-quarters of newspapers' presidential election coverage is written by men. The report, based on a survey of local and national newspapers, found that men wrote 76 percent of the election coverage during the primary and 72 percent of the coverage so far during the general election. The research was compiled by the Fourth Estate Project, an organization that has been collecting statistical information about the 2012 election using online analytics.
The results of the study were first announced on Sunday during a new radio program on WPWC in Washington, D.C. The show is hosted by Robin Morgan, a journalist and activist who also sits on the center's board of directors. "This is crucial, eye-opening information about how far we've yet to go to achieve a press corps that's truly representative and reflective of its audience," Morgan said on the program.
According to the Women's Media Center, the results of the new study show that bylines skew overwhelmingly male for newspapers' election coverage when compared to the overall population and to the gender makeup of most newsrooms. According to employment census data by the American Society of News Editors, 62 percent of newsroom reporters are men.
"In this so-called 'Year of the Woman,' this study just goes to show that when it comes to presidential elections it's still a 'boys on the bus' world," said Julie Burton, president of the Women's Media Center, in a statement. Burton's comment was a reference to Timothy Crouse's 1973 book, "The Boys on the Bus," which detailed life on the campaign trail for reporters covering the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern.
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For the study, Fourth Estate chose 35 newspapers based on strategic and geographical diversity. The papers included national "conversation setters" such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, along with regional powerhouses such as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Seattle Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The study did not include blogs or opinion columns, nor did it include broadcast media.
Founded in 2005 by Morgan, Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem, the Women's Media Center "works to create a level playing field for women and girls in media through our monitoring, training, original content and activism."