Storybench is Northeastern University’s digital storytelling site. Recently, Storybench was shortlisted for “Data journalism website of the year” by the Data Journalism Awards. It plans to update its byline research later this summer. Storybench says that female journalists covering the presidential race are still in the vast minority despite the increasing role of women in American politics. In fact, an analysis performed by Storybench’s Election Coverage Tracker found that only 32.3% of the online news stories were written by women over a recent six-week span of election coverage.
Meg Heckman, an assistant professor of journalism at the Northeastern University believes that there has been a persistent gender gap in journalism for decades. According to Heckman, politics has remained male, white, and upper-class. Thus, it becomes such that people from similar backgrounds are talking to other people from similar backgrounds, and just fixating on things that are, possibly, out of touch with the experiences of the vast majority of Americans.
A 2015 study of the 12 largest newspapers in the US showed that female reporters quote women 42 percent of the time in their stories, while male journalists quote women at a rate of 28 percent.
“By injecting more female voices into civic discourse, we start to shift our understanding of who can be an expert. That’s really important when we start talking about making journalism more reflective of all aspects of the human experience”, Heckman says.
The gender gap has persisted even though the majority of journalism students at American colleges and universities are women. Despite all of the demographic changes that have happened in society over the past couple of decades, journalism in the U.S. still remains overwhelmingly male, white, urban, and upper-middle class.
Previous reports by Storybench has shown bias against women candidates in the Democratic primary.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman