Pubmedia local news has “a ways to go” toward gender equity, report reveals

By Dru Sefton

“Looks like we have a ways to go in local public radio and television. Like the rest of the media, women are underrepresented in our newsrooms,” writes Michael Marcotte, longtime pubcasting analyst and the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in the Ethics of Entrepreneurial and Innovative Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.

In a blog post, Marcotte takes a deep dive into a February study, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2013, by the Women’s Media Center, an advocacy and press monitoring organization based in New York City.

Reports filed by public stations to CPB reveal the gender composition of the local pubmedia news workforce in positions including executives, editors, producers and senior producers, managing editors, news directors and hosts. For years, CPB has gathered general staffing information from stations, but in 2010 it began asking for much more granular data about station journalists, Marcotte notes.

The good news is, pubmedia is overall doing a bit better than commercial news in employing women. For instance, pubradio employs 46 percent women compared with commercial radio, 33 percent.

Of about 3,000 total employees in public broadcasting news nationwide, 57 percent are men, 43 percent women. Of public radio news personnel, 54 percent are men, 46 percent women. Public TV doesn’t fare as well: 62 percent men, 38 percent women.

In leadership roles in public radio, 56 percent are men, 44 percent women; in pubTV, 65 percent men, 35 percent women.

For hosts, on pubradio, 63 percent are men, 37 percent women; on pubTV, 57 percent men, 43 percent women.

“Somehow, one would expect public media newsrooms to be doing much better than their commercial counterparts,” Marcotte writes. “After all, they’re tethered to universities and nonprofits with more accountability requirements than the private sector. They tend to be bastions of educated, progressive thinkers. And there’s no mistaking years of systemwide efforts at creating a more diverse, women-friendly workforce.

“So, while they are doing better than their commercial counterparts, public media stations still have work to do if their male-female journalist balance is to mirror the larger society.”

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