University of Stirling News Release

15 January 2001


Whilst women are increasingly reporting and presenting the news they are rarely news subjects.

That is the main result, just announced, of a massive global media monitoring project held on 1st February 2000. This involved hundreds of volunteers in 70 countries. Staff from Stirling University’s Media Research Institute monitored the Scottish media for the project.

Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Project 2000 (publishers-the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)) provides a snap-shot of the portrayal and representation of women in the world's news media. Not much has changed since 1995 when, on 18th January, 71 countries took part in the first global media monitoring project organised by MediaWatch Canada. That study found that women comprised 43% of news presenters and reporters but accounted for only 17% of news subjects. The 2000 study aimed to assess the situation of women in media five years on; at the start of the 21st century, it reveals that women account for 41% of the presenters and reporters of the world's news but only 18% of news subjects.

The report confirms many concerns raised over the last decade by women media activists. Women make up 56% of TV presenters, but only 28% of radio reporters and 26% of reporters in newspapers. As TV presenters they form a majority in the 20-34 year age group but tend to disappear after 50.

Globally women appeared more often as victims than men - 19% of female news subjects compared to 7% of male news subjects. In the UK, where women had a large share of news making roles (37%), 68% of these appeared in stories on crime and 55% were portrayed as victims. This was undoubtedly due to the fact that the international day of monitoring coincided with the guilty verdict against Dr Harold Shipman for the murder of 15 of his female patients.

Although in the UK women appeared predominantly as victims, the fact that they were just 13% of politicians and government spokespersons suggests that in all other respects women's presence in the news was much in line with the rest of Europe. By contrast women made up some 17% of politicians in the Scottish media indicating a marginal increase against the UK average. However, this remains significantly lower than the representation of women in the Scottish Parliament which stands at 37%.

Women's positions and occupations in society reflect stereotypes: women were a majority in one category, as home-makers (81%). They accounted for only 10% of politicians and only 9% of athletes. Twenty-five percent of all female news subjects had no stated occupation, compared with 9% of male news subjects.

" Who Makes the News? exposes a serious lack of diversity in the news and a media industry which has failed to address its own discriminatory practices" says WACC Director, Teresita Hermano who also points out: "How many times have we heard the excuse that media are just a reflection of what is happening in reality? Yet how many times do we really see our views and lives reflected?" "WACC hopes that the results of this important project, which has helped democratise and demystify research and demonstrated the strength of the international women's movement will be used by educators and campaigners to challenge media producers, journalists and media educators on their ideas of what news is."

Dr David Miller who co-ordinated the Scottish research at the Stirling Media Research Institute noted that "the Scottish media overall seemed to feature more women than its counterparts in the rest of the UK" "However" he added "the media have a long way to go towards representing the reality of women’s lives and participation in society. Women make up more than half the population and are 37% of our elected MSPs yet the Scottish media seem reluctant to solicit their views on political stories. The message here is that journalists need to rethink their approach to covering politics and feature women’s voices as a matter of routine".