Why News Editors Prefer Women Sources

The bad news is that, according to 2012 Status of Women in the U.S. Media  report just released by the Women’s Media Center,  women are chronically under-represented as news sources.  Globally, women are the subject of only 24% of all news stories, and women are the prime ‘newsmaker’ sources for only 23% of all stories.

But that’s good news for organizations that are trying to get their messages out through media interviews. News editors are acutely aware of this gender disparity and actively search for women sources for stories. The more male-dominated the category, the more pressure there is to include women’s voices. Women in technology, finance, business and sports have a very good chance of being quoted or featured in a story if they can deliver usable quotes.

That’s why women are an organization’s secret weapon for reaching their audiences through media interviews. If you can, offer up a prepared female source for an interview. Chances are greater she’ll be interviewed and be quoted in the story. The same message carried by a man has to compete with all those other male sources to make it past all the hurdles of journalistic sorting and editing.

The report also outlined how women are pretty much outnumbered in media organizations, at pretty much every level.  Women are 73.5% of journalism and mass communication graduates, and represent a respectable proportion of mid-level editors and directors, but very few women at at senior levels.

Here’s how the math plays out. Women are:

  • 40.5% of news editors (that’s up from 37.3% in 2001)
  • 64.2% of television news producers
  • 28.4% of televisio news directors
  • 11.4% of sports news editors