Hello readers, this is Taryn bringing you the sixth installment of the Byline Survey 2.0. One of the most interesting sets of figures that I’ve run into during the course of this survey arises when we make the distinction between staff op-eds and op-eds by contributors. Controlling for op-eds by columnists allows us to paint a more detailed picture of who is getting heard.
As you can see in the graph below, in three of the four* traditional media outlets that I documented this week, the female staff composed a higher percentage of all op-eds written by women than male staff composed of all op-eds by men. In the Washington Post, for example, women staff columnists wrote 5 of the 6 op-eds written by a woman. Of the Post’s 13 non-staff articles only 1 was written by a woman.
I find these numbers important for two reasons. First, they show us how the percentages of woman-authored op-eds are skewed upwards by staff columnists – that the number of woman op-ed contributors is significantly lower than the basic male-to-female ratios indicate. Second, it highlights the importance of having a diverse group of staff columnists because they can provide a substantial boost in the representation of women and minorities.
At the moment, in each of the traditional media outlets we are examining, the staff is overwhelmingly male.
- Wall St Journal: 30% (3 of 10)
- NY Times: 22 % (2 of 9)
- Washington Post: 18% (2 of 11)
- LA Times: 33% (2 of 6)
* We would expect the LA Times to follow suit if this were a typical week, but Meghan Daum did not publish her weekly column. If Daum had published, staff columnists would have made up 33% of all op-eds by women, which, like the other three papers, would be a higher percentage than that of men.
Finally, the graph below contains this week’s percentages of op-eds by women.