Women’s Media Center study: Men overwhelmingly report the news in 2021

Broadcast news most equitable, though not for all shows


Gender inequality in America’s newsrooms continues across all media platforms as men overall receive 65% of news bylines and credits and women 34%, according to the Women’s Media Center’s latest “Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap.”

WMC researchers analyzed 62,002 pieces of content from January 1 through March 31 for 30 news outlets across four platforms: print newspaper, online news, broadcast network and cable TV news, and wire services in the United States.

Prime-time weekday evening news broadcasts are the most equitable, while print newspapers and wires are the least, according to the research:

  • 69% of print news is written by men; 31% is written by women.
  • 63% of news wire bylines (AP and Reuters) are snagged by men; 37% by women.
  • 57% of online news is written by men; 43% by women.
  • 50% of anchors and correspondents on TV prime-time weekday evening news broadcasts (cable and network) are men; 50% are women.

“The Women’s Media Center found that, during this moment of newsroom reckoning, men still dominate when reporting the news,” said Julie Burton, president and CEO of the Women’s Media Center. “Women are more than half of the population, yet it’s men who are telling most of the stories. As a result, the news media is missing out on major stories, readers and viewers and important perspectives. The gender gap is real. We hope that the industry will take heed and implement meaningful change.”

The research found that news broadcasts that are anchored or hosted by women tend to have more reporting by women than the broadcasts that are anchored or hosted by men. MSNBC, PBS, CBS and CNN all featured more than 50% women:

  • MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” with host Joy Reid: 70% women, 30% men.
  • PBS “NewsHour,” where Judy Woodruff is anchor and managing editor: 66% women, 34% men.
  • CBS “Evening News,” where Norah O’Donnell is the anchor and managing editor: 61% women, 39% men.
  • CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”: 53% women, 47% men.
  • The exception is Fox News’ “The Story,” with host Martha MacCallum: 39% women; 61% men.
  • Of the seven news broadcasts, ABC’s “World News Tonight,” anchored by David Muir, had the fewest women at 28%.

“We are heartened by the encouraging numbers in this report regarding broadcast news,” stated WMC Board Chair Janet Dewart Bell. “Yet, there is so much work that needs to be done if we are to achieve true equality and inclusion in media. Everyone wins when media executives expand opportunities to include women as sources, anchors, hosts, correspondents and in all news positions.”

News organizations must be held accountable for the persistent disparities and inequities in media, said WMC Co-Founder Gloria Steinem. “Women must be visible and powerful in all aspects of media if American society is ever to be a real democracy.”

WMC’s analysis also found that, in the print sector, none of the 14 news organizations it examined achieved gender parity in byline credits. The widest gender gap was at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where men wrote 84% and women 16% of news articles. The narrowest gaps were at The New York Times and The Washington Post, where, for each, men wrote 59% and women 41% of articles, and USA Today at 61% men and 39% women.

Among the seven internet news sites examined, the widest gender gap was at MSNBC, where men wrote 88% of articles and women wrote 12%. The narrowest gap was at Vox, where women wrote 50%, men 47%, and nonbinary journalists wrote 3% of articles. Women had more bylines than men at CNN.com, HuffPost and Vox.

During an extraordinary year of news and news coverage — about COVID-19, race, politics, media and other critical concerns — men dominated in those topics as well:

  • 63% of election coverage was by men; 37% by women.
  • 59% of international news and politics coverage was by men; 41% by women.
  • 54% of COVID-19 coverage was by men; 46% by women.
  • 53% of racial justice coverage was by men; 47% by women.
  • 50% of social justice coverage was by men; 50% by women.

In addition, men dominate coverage of sports, weather, legal, opinions and editorials, business and economy, and science and the environment.

“Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap” research was conducted by WMC Media Lab and Lake Research Partners. For the first time, cable TV news was included in this regular WMC analysis. WMC, which has produced six previous Divided reports, changed its research period from September 1 to November 30 of the previous year to the start of the research release year. It also adjusted the list of print newspapers to reflect shifts in circulation numbers, and to include newsrooms in regions of the country not previously examined in Divided reports. Content included articles of at least 500 words and TV news transcripts. For full methodology, click here.

The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, is an inclusive feminist organization that works to raise the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women and girls in media to ensure that their stories get told and their voices are heard. We do this by researching media through the WMC Media Lab; creating and modeling original online and on-air journalism; training women and girls to be effective in media; and promoting women experts in all fields through WMC SheSource.

WMC online and on-air journalism channels include the award-winning podcast and radio show WMC Live with Robin Morgan, WMC Features, WMC Women Under Siege, WMC FBomb, WMC IDAR/E, WMC Climate and WMC Speech Project.

Click here for the “WMC Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap” report.


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