Newspaper seeks to reduce gender bias in news reporting

Posted Nov 30, 2018 by Tim Sandle
The Financial Times, one of the world's leading newspapers, has developed a tool that enables journalists to assess if there are too many men quoted in their articles. This is a bid for gender parity.
File photo: Stacks of newspapers.
File photo: Stacks of newspapers.
Erich Ferdinand (CC BY 2.0)
The software was developed because the Financial Times editor realized that too many articles by the newspaper's journalists were quoting male experts. Many news articles contain a quote from a leading figure to add context to the story, be that a politician, economist or scientist.
The internal review by the Financial Times revealed that over a typical week, news articles tended to contain quotes that were 80 percent male and just 20 percent were provided by females. In a bid fora more balanced approach to gender reporting, the paper has developed a software tool that allows journalists to assess their articles to see how many quotes are coming from either gender and to make amendments as necessary.
The new software is the form of a bot, according to The Guardian (a newspaper that has long-championed a more balanced approach to gender parity with news reporting). The bot uses pronouns and analysis of first names to determine whether a source is male or a female. Should a journalist overlook a more even approach, section editors will be alerted if there is insufficient coverage of women in news stories.
The software represents one of several ideas that the Financial Times has to reach out to female readers. The paper will also include more pictures of women, as it claims “women are more likely than men to click through on a picture of a woman.” This supports a recent study of women in films by Google and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which shows a general under-representation of women across most media.