News media, women, politics = bias?

Extensive criticism of current affairs broadcasters in this morning’s Guardian media section of how old, male and grey were the vast majority of commentators and interviewees on television along the election trail. Over in The Times, a coincidental counterpoint from Libby Purves on the shortage of female cabinet ministers. Not strictly an argument based on the media’s talking heads, but Libby’s I-don’t-really-care-any-more conclusion could equally well apply to the news media.

Facts only clutter a debate, I know, but if anyone’s interested in whether there’s any basis to the complaint about men taking back the airwaves, my City University colleague Lis Howell has actually had people count them. The results are here and if you have a subscription to Broadcast magazine, you can see an extended analysis by Lis here. The skew towards male voices and faces is so weird that I’m wondering if it’s better explained as simple ignorance and lack of imagination by broadcast producers rather than “gender bias”.


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