By: Editorial Staff
AREPORT FROM the International Women’s Media Fund shows that while an overwhelming majority (94%) of women believe the media have a significant impact on their voting decisions, a similarly large number (85%) believe the media are not responsive to women voters.
The report, which polled women at IWMF conferences in San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, also found nearly three quarters of respondents agreeing that the media do not provide adequate coverage of female candidates.
“If women believe they are not receiving full information on the issues, are the media fully serving their audience?” the report asked. “As a civic institution and a business, it is in the media’s best interest to understand and respond to the needs of their readers and viewers.”
The IWMF offered some suggestions for women voters, women’s organizations and for the media.
For the media, the IWMF recommended: pay careful attention to the number of women used as political sources, striving for equal representation of males and females; political stories should be assigned to women and men equally, without limiting female journalists to “women’s issues”; explore the political news needs, both content and format, of readers and viewers; do not be limited to “quick-hit” or horse-race campaign stories; stress issues, and how they affect people, over candidates; produce report cards and voters’ guides on key campaign issues; cover women candidates as full as men, but do not trivialize that coverage with observations about their hair, clothes, etc.; and give more access to local organizations.
“While the media are limited at times by the information politicians disseminate and the campaign strategies they employ, they do have the ability to elevate the level of political debate,” the IWMF reported.