A Day in the Life of Women in NZ Media

There’s a lot of discussion out there are to the role the media plays in shaping society’s narratives around gender. So the Y Auckland decided to do a media watch, where for one day we monitored NZ’s most popular news sites and their homepage stories to seehow they portrayed women in the media. 

We were most interested in who’s actually writing our news stories, what the media is talking about, whether we interview women and men equally for stories and the common way media brands frame women. We decided to look at the two most popular online news sources, The NZ Herald and Stuff, and the most watched TV show in NZ - One News. So here’s what we saw...

1. There’s still a skew towards male journalists

When it comes to the largest online news sources, The New Zealand Herald had the most even balance of male to female reporters, with 38% of articles with sole bylines being written by women and 41% by men.One News TV also had an even balance of male and female reporting, except in sport which was all men. However Stuff came in with 28% written by women and 55% by men. 

2. The articles themselves still largely talk about men

80% of the Herald’s stories are social and legal stories, in which men are the majority of the subjects. However in the remaining 20% of non social/legal content, both men and women feature equally in the stories. This pattern is mirrored in Stuff, where social and legal stories account for the majority of the news (57%) and 75% of them focus on men. On One, again when it comes to social, legal and sport subjects the overwhelming focus is on men. And 70% of news subjects are men overall.

3. We still feature more male experts and spokespeople, whereas women share personal stories

In the NZH, both genders were fairly likely to be spokespeople (55% men and 45% women) quoted in stories, however there was a definite skew towards male commentators with 71% of experts being men. Stuff had a far higher gender skew, showing a staggering 63% of spokespeople and 75% of expert commentators being men. One News again showed a fondness for male spokespeople, with 71% of them being men. However the experts interviewed were equally male to female in their ratio. 

In all outlets, women were more likely to be quoted giving personal stories than men. 63% of the personal stories in the NZH  were women, as were 75% of those in Stuff. One News was also twice as likely to feature women telling their personal stories than men. 

4. When it came to the topic of gender there was very little written about gender inequality but still a fair few gender stereotypes

In the NZ Herald, only 2 of the 35 stories read highlighted gender inequality via stories one story on pay equity and one on rape culture where school girls resisting being rated on their looks by boys. Only 3 of 35 articles challenged gender stereotypes, including the two just mentioned and an article on a Kiwi teen pop sensation. Two articles directly reinforced stereotypes around women, a whole lot of slut-shaming in “James Weird recaps MAFS 2019 ep 32” and more pointless attention on Meghan Markle and how she should be behaving in “The big red flashing warning signs about Meghan that Harry ignored.” 

Stuff featured only 3 articles from 29 that highlighted gender inequality, addressing the Scandinavian model for sex education, two mothers united by evil and the Charlottesville car killer admitting to hate crimes. One story, the scandinavian sex ed piece, challenged gender stereotypes, while one story directly reinforced them, “Tatler’s take down of Meghan Markle anything but.” 

One News had the least coverage of gender inequality, with only 1 of 23 stories that challenged gender stereotypes, “Two Hastings school girls smashing it at rowing.” 

5. And lastly, surprise surprise, when it comes to sport it’s still often dudes talking about dudes

The NZH ran two stories, both about men, and identified 3 sports stars in their coverage - again all men. Stuff was a little better, reporting on one male sports star and one female sports star. And One News sport, which was presented by solely men, ran two stories on two male sports stars, and featured 11 men and only 3 women as sports stars in their stories.