Saturday, 9 December 2017

Right now- gender bias in The Guardian

I've been re-reading Laurie Penny's book, Bitch Doctrine, just lately. In it she claims that women and people of colour tend to write the most popular, most viral articles, even on news sites such as the Guardian, but they are not the most prominent or well paid.

I decided to take a quick snapshot of The Guardian right now, 8pm on Saturday 9th December, to see what it looks like.

I guess there's more sport because it's Saturday, but just looking at this has raised some issues for me.

First up, here's a summary of those most popular articles just now:

1) A story with a video about a polar bear starving due to climate change. Contributed by a woman. No photo of her.
2) A football story about Newcastle Utd vs Leicester City - the mens' teams. Written by a white man, photographed on his page.
3) A story about Bradley Wiggins not making it in rowing. Written by a white man, photographed on his page.
4) A story about a man held hostage while criminals raided his parents' home. Attributed only to the Press Association.
5) An interview with comedian Bill Bailey, written by a woman for whom no details are provided.
6) Live feed on the Strictly Come Dancing semi final, written by a white woman with a picture on her page, where it notes she is part of the liveblog team.
7) An opinion piece on Jared Kushner by a man of colour who is photographed on the byline.
8) A story about banking scams, focusing on a young woman victim, written by a white man, photographed on his page.
9) A story about a low level fight in a bar between male cricketers by a white man.
10) A piece on Johnny Hallyday's funeral in Paris by a white woman, photographed on her page.

So to summarise, of the ten stories, seven are about men. The only one focused on a woman has her as the victim. There is a fairly even split in the writers between men and women but male writers are far more likely to have their picture provided (and one even has it on the byline). White people outnumber people of colour.

The Guardian hasn't chosen these stories to represent it, of course, so I'm going to look at the top ten stories it has chosen to put on its website. It's now 8.30pm on Saturday night.

1) Boris Johnson is in Iran negotiating the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (White male protagonist, brown female victim). The writer is a white woman with a photograph.
2) Iraq has declared an end to their fight against Islamic State (lots of men, of course, but I am choosing to count this as a non-gendered story). The writer is again a woman, but no photo this time.
3) The story about Johnny Hallyday's funeral. (Male focus - white woman writer).
4) The starving polar bear (environmental focus - woman writer)
5) Airstrikes in Gaza after Trump recognises Jerusalem as capital of Israel. (Male focus). Story by a white man with a photograph.
6) The story about the cricketers bar fight. (Male focus, white man writer).
7) Michael Gove's latest comments on Brexit *shudder* (male focus) from the Press Association.
8) A journalist has been deported from Argentina. The journalist is a woman so it's a female focus(!) from a male writer of colour.
9) The story about the man held hostage (male focus, Press Association).
10) Roy Moore, standing for senate in Alabama, suggesting that Putin had a point about same-sex marriage (male focus, white male writer).

Do you know, the balance carries on between male and female writers, although still, the men are much more likely to have a photo on their page. And again the stories are all about men. Men, men, men, men, Sally Burch (she's the journalist), men.

Ugh, it's tiresome. And what obnoxious men they are!

Anyway, my snapshot suggested that it's a mix throughout the paper for who writes the stories, but it does seem like men have more investment in them, and the paper is really really really interested in what they do (even a man pouring a drink over another man, which is basically breakfast).

I keep hearing that if you can see it you can dream it, but at the moment all I'm seeing is a world run by men... I do hope the good people of Alabama don't elect that nutter.

What do you think? Is this a representative snapshot? And what are other media outlets like?