6 charts that show just how white and male the US media remain

The Women’s Media Center has released its third annual report on the status of gender and racial diversity in the media. The conclusion reached, yet again, is that “the American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

How far exactly? After the jump are six charts that illustrate just how white and male the US media remain.

Women make up just 36 percent of newsroom staffs–and that hasn’t really changed since 1999.

Chart of women in newsrooms over time

Men were quoted 3.4 times more often than women on the front page of the New York Times. And while reporters of both genders were more likely to quote male sources, the disparity was less extreme when the reporter was a woman.

Sources quoted in NYT front page stories by gender

There were only 38 women among the 143 columnists at the nation’s most prominent op-ed pages. And they’re pretty old and white, too. (Check out the great work of The Op-Ed Project–which a few members of the Feministing crew are involved with–to help change that.)

Chart showing age of op-ed columnists

Melissa Harris-Perry is pretty much single-handedly ensuring that there any people of color on your TV on Sundays.

chart of guests on Sunday TV shows by race

Women had only 28.4 percent of speaking roles in the top 100 films of 2012–the lowest rate in five years. And a mere six percent of the films had a gender ratio that was even remotely balanced.

chart of speaking characters by gender over last 5 years

White men directed almost three fourths of TV episodes last season; women of color directed just two percent.

chart of TV episode directors by race and gender

The WMC report, which you can read in full here, is great because it provides such a comprehensive snap shot of different kinds of media and looks at the issue from many sides–who is creating it, who is being represented by it, and how they’re being portrayed. While each single stat can sometimes seem depressing but relatively insignificant, the cumulative effect of having a media landscape that fundamentally does not reflect the world we live in is huge. As the authors write, “By deciding who gets to talk, what shapes the debate, who writes, and what is important enough to report, media shape our understanding of who we are and what we can be.”

And right now it’s skewing the picture. “Only when women are equal partners in the multi-layered work of deciding what constitutes a story and how that story might be told can we paint a more textured, accurate picture of the worlds that we all—male and female—inhabit.”

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

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