78 Percent Of U.K. Newspaper Articles Are Written By Men. Is U.S. Media Any Better?

A writer for the United Kingdom’s the Guardian recently conducted an informal analysis and found that in an average month, 78 percent of newspaper articles are written by a man.

Last June, for four weeks, Kira Cochrane and a small team “doggedly” counted the bylines of every single story that appeared in the Monday-Friday editions of seven newspapers — the Daily Mail; the Guardian; the Times; the Daily Telegraph; the Daily Mirror; the Sun; and the Independent. They kept track of if the author was a male or a female.

“There wasn’t a single day, on a single newspaper, when the number of female bylines outstripped or equalled the number of male bylines,” Cochrane found.

At the end of the month we averaged all the daily percentages and the results were: the Mail, 68% male bylines, 32% female; the Guardian, 72% male, 28% female; the Times, 74% male, 26% female; the Daily Telegraph, 78% male, 22% female; the Daily Mirror, 79% male, 21% female; the Sun, 80% male, 20% female; and the Independent, 84% male, 16% female.

Okay, that is the United Kingdom. What about in the United States?

The American Association of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) has been tracking the number of male versus female reporters in newsrooms for years. According to the 2011 ASNE Newsroom Employment Census, there is a higher percentage of male reporters/writers (61.3 percent) than females in the same category (38.7 percent). One could argue that with that ratio, it would be impossible for men and women to have an equal number of bylines.

In 2005, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism published a whole report on the gender gap, but it mostly focused on the lack of women as sources for news stories. That same year, Ruth Davis Konigsberg, currently a senior editor at TIME, started the now defunct WomenTK.com to track bylines by women.

Konigsberg surveyed 1,893 articles in publications such as Harper’s and the New Yorker and found only 447 were written by women. It’s a shame the site is no longer functioning because it would be interesting to compare her 2005 findings to more recent ones, from the same source.

In October, The Gender Report, a blog that tracks gender in internet news by examining sites that have both an online-only presence as well as those that are associated with a print product, posted some compelling, more updated findings. The site found that over a nine month period, males authored 52.9 percent of the articles in the study while women had only written 38.2 percent.

But byline counting is only one way to see if women are underrepresented as authors in the news industry. Cochrane suggests an alternative method:

“It is arguable, of course, that counting bylines is a blunt tool – that an analysis of how many words by male and female writers are appearing in the newspapers would be far better. If someone intends to do that analysis, I would love to read it.”

I would love to read that as well.

Do you know of any other groups or individuals counting bylines in news media in the United States?

Image courtesy of genderreport.com.