So We're All Sexist Then....

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The front pages are still male dominated and sexist (Guardian, 15.10.12). Quite the statement. The article, as its name indicates, is a supposed expose on the broadsheet, quality and popular British press, claiming that they exhibit largely uniform and in some cases striking sexual discriminatory habits. Indeed the report does seem to show that this is correct. The results are interesting, but not surprising.

The report was compiled by the Women in Journalism research body; so obviously the research was a showpiece of impartiality. The results found that 78% of all front page pieces were written by men. This average fluctuated from 91% for the Independent to 50% at the Daily Express. Furthermore, it was found that of all those mentioned by name or quoted directly in the lead stories, 84% were men across all papers studied. A more detailed analysis revealed that of those quoted who were experts, 76% were men, and of all the victims quoted directly, 79% were women.

I obviously have a few issues with this analysis. The reason I am so emphatically against this report is that, given that I read several of the papers mentioned, by implication, I am supposedly sexist.

One can look up the number of publications put out daily to monthly in the UK. Everyone who does so is stunned at the sheer volume of literature we produce for an avidly consuming market. We must bear in mind before any further criticism is levied at the press that, although the report does explicitly deal only with nine papers, the wider press should not be labeled with the title of sexist.

First and foremost, the report addresses nine national newspapers, Monday to Saturday  over 4 weeks. Hardly extensive enough research to conclude that newspapers are sexist. Only the lead stories were investigated. If papers were really institutionally sexist, then a huge proportion of their papers on the whole will be filled with male written and orientated stories.

As this is not looked into, the report seems to bemoan the fact that more men are writing leading stories. I am not one to second guess Editors, and on the whole I think they're doing a good job at choosing the front page. The report should not chastise men for being successful until they analyses the rest of the paper. Which leads to the final point. The newspapers studied have long histories of fantastic and respected, and more importantly, fact correct journalism, at least to the greatest degree possible.

If the appropriate experts to be questioned given a certain incident or issue happen to be men, as it seems was the case 76% of the time, then there is little the journalists can do about it. I would probably stop buying the paper if the person quoted was cited as "the most relevant female expert available"; I feel they should simply seek the best expert to question.

Many women need to get over the fact that men are successful. I find it offensive that they take such great issue with this. Yes, some industries are institutionally sexist, and this is wrong, in need of being rectified. Yet, in regards to the standards of the press, one should be less critical of the fact that men seem to be more central to important news stories and more concerned with their institutional racism or their incessant lying.

The papers cannot dictate the news; if they could, I'm sure we would have much more to worry about.

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