Women In The News In The Time Of Coronavirus

In conjunction with audience strategy consultancy AKAS and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MEAG completed research on the presence of women in the news during the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. This work was in support of key commitments of BMGF’s gender equality in news initiative.

By

Fernando Bermejo

Linas Valiukas

Commissioned by

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AKAS

Published

September 29, 2020

In conjunction with audience strategy consultancy AKAS and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MEAG completed research on the presence of women in the news during the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. This work was in support of key commitments of BMGF’s gender equality in news initiative:

  • Use of Women as Sources of Expertise
  • Stories Leading with Women Protagonists
  • Coverage of Gender Equality Issues

Based on BMGF priorities, MEAG centered analysis on news coverage in six predetermined countries of focus: India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Findings indicate that the coronavirus story did not significantly shift gender equality metrics in the news when looking at coverage in the aggregate. When looking at only stories that mention coronavirus, the metrics for gender equality tend to be worse than the 2019 levels. However, when looking at non-coronavirus stories, gender equality metrics tend to be better than 2019 levels. One hypothesis as to this result is that the stories that remain in the news that are not tied in some way to coronavirus tend to be in the area of entertainment and other soft news categories, which were previously found to contain more gender balance than other thematic areas of coverage.

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