2019 Women for Media Report

Women are missing, still missing.

We are not missing from real life, of course. We work in hospitals and schools, in laboratories and in construction and we make up 50.7 per cent of the population; but the stories which appear in the media do not reflect that reality.

Instead, the media reality is that women are not experts, not sources. As those sources, we are missing from news stories and from feature stories, we are missing from photos both as photographers and as subjects; and we are missing in that very influential place in the Australian media landscape, our voices are missing from opinion pieces and columns.

Some organisations are trying to change that dynamic (but you will have to read to the end to see what they are doing).

How do we know?

Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, supported by the Trawalla Foundation, took a snapshot of Australia’s most influential news sites on four consecutive Thursdays in October 2018. We chose Thursdays because that’s a high traffic day with big audiences, between 12 noon and 2pm; and we selected the top five stories on each site from their position on the homepage. In February 2019, we analysed the top five opinion pieces on each site across Tuesday to Saturday in one week. Again, we looked at what was on offer between 12 noon and 2pm. For both these data sets, we asked two ordinary readers of news sites to identify what they considered to be the top stories at that time.

This is just a glimpse, a very small sample of a bigger picture but it gives us an idea of what’s going on.

What publications did we choose and why? We wanted east coast and west coast and we also wanted sites which were ‘fed’ by television content. This report has seven of the 10 sites which Nielsen says rank highest for traffic for digital content. As we were looking at news me- dia, we used 9news in place of nine.com.au and Yahoo!7 in place of Yahoo. We also added The Australian, the Financial Review, The Courier Mail, the Herald Sun, The West Australian and BuzzFeed for a range of reasons, including audience and geographical variation.

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