Are more women appearing as ‘experts’ in broadcast news bulletins?

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A new study on women in broadcasting will show the continuing dominance of men in news output on TV and radio as both interviewers and interviewees.

According to a previous research conducted by Professor Lis Howell of City University London, four male experts appeared on UK news bulletins for every woman.

She will present her new research findings on Wednesday evening at her inaugural lecture.* [Full disclosure: I teach at City and Lis, head of broadcasting, has been a colleague since I joined the faculty in 2003].

One of the BBC’s main news bulletin presenters, Sophie Raworth (a City alumna and honorary graduate), will give an introductory talk.

Lis said of her previous research that broadcast news programmes had been “letting women down”. Of her latest research, which covers an 18-month period from March 2014 to September 2015, she said:

“It will reveal whether there has been movement towards equality, but don’t hold your breath. Broadcasters unfailingly mean well but there is something about the nature of news broadcasting which means expert woman just don’t get their fair share of the air waves and we are trying to find out why.”

Lis’s research appears to dovetail with that of the latest study by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which found that only 24% of people seen, heard or read about in the media are women.

The report, Gender inequality in the news 1995-2015, published on Monday, argued that “the rate of progress towards media gender parity has almost ground to a halt over the past five years.”

The gender gap is narrowest in stories on science and health, but these topics are given only the lowest importance on the news agenda (occupying only 8% of the overall news space).

And the gap is widest in news about politics and government in which women are only 16% of the people in the stories.

The report’s findings will get an airing at an event at the BBC’s Broadcasting House at lunchtime (Monday) called 100 women: Is news failing women?

*Lis Howell’s public lecture will take place at City University’s Oliver Thompson lecture theatre at 6.30pm on Wednesday (25 November). It is free to attend but you are advised to book a place here.

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