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News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students


Beyond fluff stories and weather girls

Because women now regularly outnumber men in Canadian journalism schools, it’s hard to believe that newsrooms and the stories that…

By Allison Cross , in Blogs Finding Balance in Gendered Media , on January 22, 2008

Because women now regularly outnumber men in Canadian journalism schools, it’s hard to believe that newsrooms and the stories that come out of these newsrooms still lack an appropriate gender balance. How can an industry fed by young women continue to pump out stories chock full of bias and stereotype?

Women cover hard news alongside men, tackle political issues and follow the war in Afghanistan. But besides the obvious objectification of celebrity icons, women in the journalism industry still regularly fill the roles of sexy weather girls and the primary writers of fluffy, human interest stories.

A 2007 study from Media Action found that despite the gains women have made in the broadcasting industry, whether they’re on TV or the ones producing stories, women were still significantly dissatisfied with how they appeared on TV. In their eyes, they were “skinny, sleazy and stupid.”

As a woman, reading that does not feel good. We must also consider, when taking stock of the gender of the news anchors of Canada’s three major TV networks, that when woman aren’t appearing skinny, sleazy and stupid, they aren’t appearing at all.

Media Action has expressed frustration as they tackle an issue many news organizations believe they have already solved. To be fair, gender issues aren’t the only item on the table. Journalism organizations are faced with reflecting a world defined by multiculturalism, fraud, race relations, poverty, waring countries and diversity. It isn’t easy.

But it won’t get better unless we make it better and consider gender balance as important as fair reporting and integrity in journalism.