Current Issue Summary

Vol. 51, No. 3, Summer 2023

Thumbnail summaries of this issue’s major articles:

Newsrooms on Fire: Burnout Rising Among TV Talent

More than two-thirds (68.9%) of all TV news directors say staff burnout is worse now than it was one year ago.  That’s the latest finding of the 2023 Radio Television Digital News Association/Newhouse School at Syracuse University survey.

The percentage was a bit lower in the top 25 markets (at 59.4%), but all other market sizes were in the two-thirds range or higher, peaking in the smallest markets at 77.3%. Stations in both the Northeast and the Midwest were near 75%, but both the South and West were in the mid-60s.

Almost 9 out of 10 news directors (88.8%) say they’re trying to do something about it, and their tactics vary, the survey found.

COVID Reporting Emphasized Male Voices As Experts, Officials

This research, “Women’s Representation and Voice in Media Coverage of the Coronavirus Crisis,” definitively shows that “the response to the pandemic had an overwhelmingly male face,” according to study director Laura Jones of  the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.  The study summarizes the results of a big-data analysis of 146,867 articles related to coronavirus published between 1 March and 31 July 2020 and drawn from 15 sources across the UK, Australia and the US.

Women are a minority among mentions of prominent economists and STEM experts (those famous enough to have their own Wikipedia pages) in articles on the Covid-19 crisis. For every mention of a prominent female STEM expert, there are 19 mentions of a male counterpart. For every mention of a prominent female economist, there are five mentions of a male economist.

Films Appearing on Streaming Services More ‘Female Forward’

In 2022, more original U.S. films on major streaming services featured female than male protagonists. Half (49.4%) of these films featured female protagonists, 38.3% featured male protagonists, and 12.3% had ensembles, according to a new report, Streaming Women, released in May by Dr. Martha Lauzen, founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.  Females comprised 44% (43.8%) of major characters, and 40% (40.1%) of all speaking characters in 2022.

Study: TV Viewing in Youth Linked to Health Risks

A new study published in Pediatrics provides evidence of a long-term association between watching television during childhood and adolescence and metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood. Core components of metabolic syndrome include obesity, insulin resistance, abnormal blood lipids, and high blood pressure. This study in the August 2023 issue of Pediatrics revealed those who had watched more television during childhood and adolescence were more likely to have metabolic syndrome at age 45. Television viewing between ages 5-15 years was also associated with greater body mass index values, lower cardiorespiratory fitness, greater waist circumference, and higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure at age 45. The findings are independent of adult television-watching habits.

Analysis: Women Leaving Jobs in High Numbers and It’s Not Just Burnout

McKinsey & Company’s “Women in the Workplace” research team has produced dispiriting data that in the long run is alarming for women personally and bad for organizations generally. They found that 37 percent of women leaders had a coworker take credit for their idea, and that they were two times more likely to be mistaken for someone junior.  Women are likelier than their male colleagues to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts with little to no payoff in their career advancement.

TV News Gets More Diverse But Still Doesn’t Reflect Public

The most recent employment data from the RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University Survey, released at the end of 2022, indicate women have strength at all levels of the television news business but that men outnumber them by substantial margins in the influential news director positions, particularly in large broadcast markets.

Commentary: Barbie: A Really Different Hollywood Movie. It’s About Time. By MRTW Editor Sheila Gibbons

Research in Depth: The Catfight Trope Is Dead by Miglena Sternadori

Plus News Briefs and Book Reviews!