‘The News That Didn’t Make the News’: How the Media Ignores Important Stories About Gender Violence and Inequity


Every year, Undertaking Censored releases an inventory of stories tales that went underreported in for-profit information. Too many are about violence in opposition to ladies. So, what can we do to advertise gender fairness within the information media? 

A march in opposition to racial violence in December 2014. Yearly, Undertaking Censored makes an inventory of 25 underreported tales—and too typically, these tales are about gendered injustices all over the world. (Corey Templeton / Flickr)

It typically appears as if ladies solely seize the company information media’s consideration after they gown up in costume.

  • Photographs within the New York Occasions featured ladies in seas of pink beanies at Girls’s Marches in 2017 after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
  • A 2018 ABC Information article included a dystopian nonetheless of 15 ladies cloaked in Handmaid’s Story garb within the Senate workplace constructing throughout Brett Kavanaugh’s affirmation hearings.
  • The German ladies’s gymnastics crew made headlines on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by donning full-body leotards to protest the sexualization of athletes of their sport.

These photos are sensational and putting, but they underscore how information protection of ladies by the nation’s most outstanding information shops is constantly pores and skin deep and fleeting.

Every year, Undertaking Censored—a 45-year-old media-monitoring group to which we each contribute—releases an inventory of 25 significant news stories that have gone underreported within the industrial, for-profit information. That includes tales revealed by unbiased and various information shops, Undertaking Censored’s annual story lists typically spotlight tales about gendered injustices affecting ladies all over the world—significantly ladies in racially minoritized and economically marginal communities.

Lacking Tales About Gendered Violence and Abuse

Quite a lot of the tales included on current Undertaking Censored High 25 Lists cope with epidemic ranges of abuse and violence in opposition to ladies, particularly impoverished or racially minoritized ladies.

As an illustration, the tenth story on the Undertaking’s checklist for 2020-21 was about work being achieved by Undertaking South, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab to doc compelled sterilizations of disabled ladies and ladies who’re incarcerated. As reported in articles that appeared final 12 months in The Conversation, Ms. and YES! Magazine, at the least 30,000 People within the twentieth century have been sterilized with out their consent, and this barbaric follow has continued inside a few of America’s prisons and immigration detention centers. Activist teams together with Latinas for Reproductive Justice have been main grassroots efforts to win justice for the ladies affected. But, excluding stories from July 2021 by CNN, the Washington Post and a few native TV stations, few company information shops have paid any consideration to an initiative in California to compensate victims of compelled sterilization.

The excessive fee at which Black ladies and ladies go lacking in the USA was flagged by Undertaking Censored as one of the vital necessary tales missed by the company media in 2019-2020.

The sixteenth story on Undertaking Censored’s 2020-2021 checklist was equally surprising: Analysis by U.Okay.-based nonprofit Femicide Census and by the U.S.-based Lady Rely USA reveals that deadly violence in opposition to ladies across the globe is on the rise and that almost all of murdered ladies and ladies are killed by intimate companions. As Yvonne Roberts defined in a Nov. 22, 2020 article in regards to the findings of the Femicide Census revealed in The Guardian, within the U.Okay., one girl is killed by a person each three days—however authorities have failed to handle the pattern as a result of they insist on treating every dying as an remoted incident.

The shortage of official information and well-liked outrage over the epidemic of murdered ladies can also be an issue in the USA and spurred Lady Rely’s Daybreak Wilcox to create her web site, which goals to depend each girl killed by a person within the nation. Though mass protests in opposition to the epidemic of deadly violence in opposition to ladies in Mexico and Turkey have attracted some company information protection, few industrial shops—with notable exceptions like Teen Vogue—have reported on femicide in the USA.

In 2021, the large cable and broadcast information channels have been obsessive about Gabby Petito, a younger white girl whose disappearance was granted wall-to-wall protection, a transparent case of what journalist Gwen Ifill as soon as referred to as “missing white woman syndrome.” Lacking ladies of coloration are virtually by no means deemed worthy of this type of intensive reporting. Certainly, the excessive fee at which Black ladies and ladies go lacking in the USA was flagged by Undertaking Censored as one of the vital necessary tales missed by the company media in 2019-2020.

The Undertaking’s report highlighted a 2010 study, which discovered that solely 20 p.c of stories tales lined lacking Black kids regardless of Black youth accounting for 33 p.c of whole lacking kids circumstances in the USA. The disparity solely grew years later. By 2015, in accordance with research published in the Communication Research Reports, Black kids made up 35 p.c of all lacking kids circumstances, but have been solely the only real focus of seven p.c of media stories on lacking kids.

Undertaking Censored recognized a report by ThinkProgress about the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and girls as its high underreported story for 2019-2020. Circumstances of lacking Native ladies and ladies, together with Two-Spirit and different LGBTQIA identities, usually are not recorded in any single federal database. Nevertheless, FBI data obtained by The Guardian discovered that Indigenous folks go lacking at twice the per capita fee as their white counterparts, and additional analysis by the Division of Justice found Indigenous ladies on tribal lands have been killed at a fee greater than 10 instances the nationwide common.

The institution press tends to border misogyny singularly as particular person males’s contempt for explicit ladies reasonably than acknowledging it as a systemic difficulty that fuels widespread violence in opposition to ladies.

Among the many Undertaking’s high tales from 2011-12 was a report by The Electronic Intifada about Palestinian ladies denied primary medical care, shackled throughout childbirth and compelled to outlive beneath filthy situations inside Israeli prisons. On the time the story was revealed, 37 Palestinian ladies have been detained, a lot of whom belonged to the Palestinian Legislative Council or different organizations thought by Israel to be a menace to nationwide safety. Simply final 12 months, Israel’s Protection Ministry was widely criticized for designating a number of advocacy teams as terrorist organizations. On the checklist on the time was Addameer, a company that advocates for the rights of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Israel’s occupation of the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip made it practically unattainable for detainees’ households to go to their family members. In the event that they have been in a position to make the journey, visits have been capped at half an hour by thick, stifling glass. Palestinian ladies typically confronted dire medical neglect, particularly earlier than, throughout and after giving start.

What Explains These Persistent Gaps? 

It’s not stunning that problems with violence in opposition to ladies stay largely invisible within the company information media right now, even within the period of #MeToo. In any case, regardless of some progress because the Nineteen Sixties, the possession and upper-management of the industrial information media nonetheless skews closely male. True, the CEO of the New York Occasions, Meredith Kopit Levien, is a girl, as is the editor-in-chief of the Washington Publish, Sally Buzbee, and the editor-in-chief of USA Immediately, Nicole Carroll. However these few feminine decision-makers are far outnumbered by legions of male media executives, editors and information administrators who set the agenda at one nationwide, regional and native information outlet after one other. 

Girls and other people of coloration proceed to be severely underrepresented on the “possession and governance ranges of each conventional and new media companies,” in accordance with analysis by Carolyn Byerly, professor emerita of media research at Howard College. Byerly’s survey of the boards of directors of 8 main U.S. media conglomerates in 2017 discovered that ladies held between 8 p.c (Alphabet/Google) and 33 p.c (Walt Disney and Verizon) of board seats at these corporations. The shortage of gender parity in board rooms has restricted ladies’s affect over company coverage, key staffing choices and firm priorities. 

Feminine decision-makers are far outnumbered by legions of male media executives, editors and information administrators who set the agenda at one nationwide, regional and native information outlet after one other. 

The upper-echelons of administration at industrial information shops additionally tilts male. In line with the News Leaders Association, ladies maintain solely 41 p.c of all newsroom management positions (upper-level editor positions at newspapers or related positions of authority at broadcast and digital information operations). Analysis carried out by the Radio Television Digital News Association and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications discovered that ladies are usually much more underrepresented in positions of energy inside broadcast journalism.

  • In 2020, solely 19 p.c of TV station common managers have been ladies and solely 36 p.c of the information administrators at native TV stations have been ladies.
  • Girls accounted for less than 23.6 p.c of radio station common managers and held simply 28.8 p.c of radio information director jobs.
  • Disparity exists even in entry-level media roles: White ladies hold 33 p.c of entry-level positions in media whereas ladies of coloration make up solely 17 p.c.

Girls’s lack of energy and affect inside media establishments each huge and small is simply a part of the reason for the media’s lack of curiosity in tales in regards to the femicide epidemic, lacking Black women and girls, and violence in opposition to Indigenous and Palestinian ladies. Little question, the pervasiveness of a sexist (and racist) ideology that defines ladies’s lives as inherently much less useful or attention-grabbing than males’s has performed a job as effectively.

Add to this the truth that feminist views on present affairs and public coverage points are nonetheless marginalized in company media commentary and opinion. The institution press tends to frame misogyny singularly as particular person males’s contempt for explicit ladies reasonably than acknowledging it as a systemic difficulty that fuels widespread violence in opposition to ladies. By neglecting this connection, the media is perpetuating an insidious cycle of abuse.

Girls are underrepresented as opinion authors and commentators within the institution press to start with; in 2016, ladies wrote only 19 percent of op-eds that appeared within the New York Occasions, the Washington Publish, the Wall Avenue Journal and the Los Angeles Occasions. However even when ladies are given a platform for commentary by huge company media, only one in 10 of their commentaries approach points from an explicitly feminist perspective. And the feminist viewpoints featured within the institution media generally concern straight, white, middle-class ladies.

No surprise information in regards to the brutalization, homicide and sterilization of ladies, particularly ladies of coloration, appears to matter so little to the industrial media. 

Selling Gender Fairness within the Information

Company media have ignored one wakeup name after one other, and, consequently, ladies stay sorely underrepresented within the information and newsrooms alike. By excluding ladies as newsmakers, sources and key decision-makers on the macro degree of media organizations, the industrial information media fails its audiences. Ready on the large industrial information shops to spontaneously do the appropriate factor is futile. So, what can we do to advertise gender fairness within the information media? 

To start with, we should financially help unbiased feminist journalism the place it exists. Women’s eNews, Ms. magazine, Bitch and Rewire News Group do a much better job of masking ladies and ladies’s points than their company counterparts. Not surprisingly, many of those feminist information shops are nonprofits. And, like all nonprofits, they’re starved for funds. 

We must always demand that senior management at huge company information shops make variety and inclusion a precedence. In line with McKinsey & Firm research in 2020, 53 p.c of human sources (HR) respondents employed in media and leisure revealed that solely the pinnacle of HR is seen as accountable when variety metrics or targets are met (or unmet), whereas solely 27 p.c reported that the CEO was held accountable.

Latest initiatives, just like the BBC’s 50:50 Project, developed by BBC director common Adam Corridor, are a step in the appropriate path. The aim of the 50:50 Undertaking was to ensure that at the least 50 p.c of BBC contributors have been ladies. In 2018, the 12 months earlier than the initiative was launched, solely 27 p.c of BBC manufacturing groups had at the least 50 p.c ladies contributors. By April 2019, that quantity soared to 74 p.c. 

There merely can’t be inclusive protection with out an inclusive employees. Hiring ladies and journalists of coloration permits information organizations to report tales that higher handle the wants and pursuits of the communities they serve. This additionally creates a possibility to extend readership and, in flip, revenue.

Lastly, media watchdog teams like Women’s Media Center, GLAAD, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and our personal Project Censored name out the sexist imagery, marginalization of feminist views and underreporting of ladies’s points so frequent in company media. The extra conscious the general public is of the media’s distorting gendered lens, the higher. 

The pictures of protesters on the Girls’s March, Brett Kavanaugh’s affirmation hearings and the Tokyo Olympics are surprising, however the institution press ought to cease treating ladies merely as spectacle, novelty or eye-candy and start taking ladies and gender points significantly. 

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