Current Issue Summary

Vol. 49, No. 3, Summer 2021

GMMP 2020-2021: Gender Parity in News Representation Still Elusive

The emergence and rapid proliferation of Covid-19 made the implementation of the 6th Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) in 2020 the most extraordinary since the initiative’s inception in 1995. Yet, despite the pandemic, the media sample was the highest ever. This extraordinary research undertaking was implemented by 116 teams and covered 30,172 stories published in newspapers, broadcast on radio and television, and disseminated on news websites and via news media tweets.  This latest GMMP data was released in July 2021. All things remaining equal, it will take at least a further 67 years to close the average gender equality gap in traditional news media, say the report’s authors.

Uncertain Future for Funding for Gender-Media Research

Sarah Macharia, coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), has underscored the importance of funding gender data building initiatives such as the GMMP and the recently launched Comparing Gender and Media Equality Across the Globe (GEM) report and dataset, saying, “There’s a real risk to sustainability for this kind of work over the long term.”

Since the first GMMP was launched in 1995, there have only been “small gradual changes” in the way women are represented in the news media, Macharia says. “Over the years we have seen widespread underrepresentation, misrepresentation, and marginalization of women in the print media, TV, radio, and since 2010 also on online news websites and Twitter. The issues are common across countries, across regions, throughout the entire 25 years.”

Hollywood Diversity Report: Few Women, Minorities Running Show

                Part 1 of UCLA’s entertainment diversity study has been released, with information about feature film production and consumption.  Part 2, focusing on television, is scheduled to be released in September 2021. The film installment of this year’s Hollywood Diversity Report tracks the top 185 films of 2020, breaking down performance by box-office revenue for theatrical releases and, new for this year, Nielsen ratings for streaming films. The Hollywood Diversity Report also tracks how well women and minorities are represented in four key industry employment categories: lead actors, total cast, writers and directors. In 2020, nearly all of the films with a female director also featured a female lead (94.7%). Films directed by minorities had the highest level of cast diversity. And 78.3% of films directed by people of color featured minority leads. However, the report notes, there are still relatively few examples of women and people of color running the show on big-budget films, those marketed to the broadest audience.

Asians and Pacific Islanders Erased, Silenced, Stereotyped in Films

This first-ever report is a result of a collaboration among Nancy Wang Yuen, Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, with funding from Amazon Studios and UTA Foundation. The study includes an assessment of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) leads and speaking characters across 1,300 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019. The report also includes a qualitative analysis of primary and secondary API characters from 2019’s most popular movies.Across 51,159 speaking characters in 1,300 top-grossing movies, 5.9% were API. This percentage did not meaningfully differ by year and falls short of the 7.1% of the U.S. population that identifies as API. Additionally, a closer look at films from 2019 demonstrates that underrepresentation is only one facet of the bias facing the API community in film.

New Report Examines State of Inclusion and Equity in TV Writing

 In 2019, the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE) surveyed current TV writers to delve deeper behind the scenes into issues of representation, inclusion, and equity in television writing. Its goal was to discover barriers that underrepresented writers face in entering and advancing within the industry and to better understand the relationship between underrepresentation and inclusive story content. TTIE continued that endeavor in 2020, releasing its most recent report in the Spring of 2021 in partnership with Women in Film and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. A key takeaway:

“To truly create inclusive television, underrepresented writers need to be staffed in writers’ rooms as well as hired for paid development. Since last year’s survey, it seems that writers’ rooms are now being staffed with more women and BIPOC writers than before. Although this seems promising, the data may be somewhat skewed by “clustering,” where shows that focus on underrepresented communities are staffed primarily with writers from that community. Additionally, many rooms still do not include any Disabled, Deaf, LGBTQIA+, or age 50+ lower-level writers. As we move up the ranks, even fewer head writers (comedy/variety), story editors (animation), and showrunners (drama/comedy) are from underrepresented communities. This means that the increasing diversity we see behind the scenes is concentrated at the bottom of the staffing ladder. Top slots, where power resides, continue to be filled by overrepresented writers.”

Research in Depth: Perceptions of Purity Messaging on Women and Secular Society by Madison Hurd

Research in Depth: Does Female Empowerment Sell? Always’ #LIKEAGIRL Campaigns’ Contribution to Feminism and Culture Change? by Tamar Gregorian

Commentary: Google Algorithms Yield Sexist and Racist Search Results by Tracy Everbach

Plus News Briefs and Book Reviews!

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