OPEN PloS one | 4 Feb 2016
S Jia, T Lansdall-Welfare, S Sudhahar, C Carter and N Cristianini
Feminist news media researchers have long contended that masculine news values shape journalists' quotidian decisions about what is newsworthy. As a result, it is argued, topics and issues traditionally regarded as primarily of interest and relevance to women are routinely marginalised in the news, while men’s views and voices are given privileged space. When women do show up in the news, it is often as “eye candy,” thus reinforcing women’s value as sources of visual pleasure rather than residing in the content of their views. To date, evidence to support such claims has tended to be based on small-scale, manual analyses of news content. In this article, we report on findings from our large-scale, data-driven study of gender representation in online English language news media. We analysed both words and images so as to give a broader picture of how gender is represented in online news. The corpus of news content examined consists of 2,353,652 articles collected over a period of six months from more than 950 different news outlets. From this initial dataset, we extracted 2,171,239 references to named persons and 1,376,824 images resolving the gender of names and faces using automated computational methods. We found that males were represented more often than females in both images and text, but in proportions that changed across topics, news outlets and mode. Moreover, the proportion of females was consistently higher in images than in text, for virtually all topics and news outlets; women were more likely to be represented visually than they were mentioned as a news actor or source. Our large-scale, data-driven analysis offers important empirical evidence of macroscopic patterns in news content concerning the way men and women are represented.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com