4 April 2019

A survey of gender representation in the news media found that Australian websites are a sausage party: “Women accounted for 34 percent of direct quotes and 24 percent of indirect sources in mainstream digital media sites… [M]en were the majority of direct and indirect sources across all story topics with the exception of those relating to celebrities and the royals. Men constituted 95 percent of direct sources in sports-related stories, 82 percent in business and finance stories and 79 percent in law, crime and justice stories.” And the gender of journalists is a big part of the problem: “Female journalists were more likely to use female sources (40 percent) than male journalists (24 percent), the report said.” The study, conducted by Jenna Price and Anne Maree Payne for the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, includes transcripts of some very depressing interviews with senior managers who acknowledge the importance of gender diversity but then say things like, “I hire on talent. So, if I like a bloke and I think he’s right for the job, I’ll hire him. I won’t think, ‘Oh the last three people I’ve hired are men’, and I think it works out pretty well. I actually couldn’t tell you what the gender divide is in our newsroom…” These problems are systemic and they won’t be solved by good intentions — it’s well past time to move from principle to practice.