About Our Research
At Women in Journalism we believe that the media has to be a reflective mirror of society, not a distorting lens. If the journalists reporting and the editors/producers making the decisions are unrepresentative of the audience they serve, then distortions will inevitably result. Over the last 25 years we have seen huge strides in the representation of women in our industry although the current situation is by no means perfect.
We regard informing and leading the debate by researching major issues of concern to our members and our industry as a key part of our remit – most recently with an analysis of the front pages of all the major newspapers, which revealed the differences in the way men and women are written about (and photographed) by the press; and how many of the main news stories are written by women journalists.
While progress has been made since – there are now five female editors of national newspapers – this research also revealed that across all the papers, the backbench – which decides where stories are placed and how they are presented – was an almost entirely male preserve.
Our latest project published in September 2020, investigated the lack of ethnic and gender diversity in leading national news print and broadcast outlets. In 2016 a study published by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and City University of London found that UK journalists were 94% white. We believed little had changed since. Sadly, we were right.
Over the course of a week in mid-July, to monitor Black BAME and female voices our researchers read the front page of every major newspaper, watched daily prime-time news shows on leading TV channels and listened to around 100 hours of prime-time radio news coverage. The results of this snapshot were shocking.
When it comes to the intersection of race and gender the situation is worse. Not a single Black woman journalist had written an article on the front page of any of the newspapers during the monitored time period (no Black men had either), and just one Black woman was quoted as an expert.
We also approached the Managing Editors of newspapers and producers of all the outlets we monitored asking them for their own figures on diversity. At the time of publication we have not received any numbers.
Eleanor Mills, WIJ chair
We are very grateful to TESCO for support in funding this project