Media Ignores Female Political Commentators

by Lainey Feingold on August 2, 2004

The 2004 presidential election will likely turn on the women’s vote: Indeed, with projects like 1000 Flowers (www.1000flowers.com, and Eve Ensler’s V is for Vote (www.vday.org) getting out the women’s vote has become a virtual cottage industry Then why are the journalists and columnists telling the voters – the majority of whom are women – what’s happening politically in this crucial election year overwhelmingly male? Why are only male journalists and pundits spinning the election season? Where are the female opinion makers?

The day after the close of the Democratic Convention, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz surveyed the press response in a piece in his Media Notes column entitled “Kerry Wows the Media” ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/columns/kurtzhoward/ ). In the course of his article, Kurtz quoted the opinions of television and print journalists about the speech.

Of those reporters mentioned by name in Kurtz’ piece were 14 men and two women. (Ironically, one of the two is a “journalist” for Fox News. The other is Slate television critic and self-described feminist Dana Stevens). The fourteen men ranged from heavy hitters like Dan Rather and Peter Jennings to bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall.

No opinions by women bloggers were included, although presumably women bloggers do write about politics. There are, after all, 620 sites listed on a single site called “Blogs by Women”)

In addition to the named reporters, Kurtz included, without reporter attribution, the opinions expressed in seven big City or national papers. (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Post, Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.) (We’ll save for another piece why the San Francisco Chronicle didn’t make the list.)

A quick check of the bylines of the cited opinions (a link to each piece cited is included in the on-line version of Kurtz’ column) tells the same story: five of the cited pieces were written by men. Only the stories in USA Today the New York Post – two little-respected media sources cited in the article — were written by women.

In journalist Laura Flanders’ book, ” Real Majority, Media Minority: The Costs of Sidelining Women in Reporting,” the title says it all. The cost of allowing a male-only pundit corp to analyze what the women voters of 2004 want to hear is as outdated as Freud.

Women deserve better from our media.



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