Study: New York Times could use binders full of women sources

posted at 3:08 pm on July 19, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Let’s take just a moment to remember what “binders full of women” was before it was a meme. Here’s Gov. Mitt Romney’s exchange with Candy Crowley in the second debate of the 2012 campaign:

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now, as then, it is obvious he’s expressing a perfectly rational, even admirable, desire to change his recruiting and hiring process to make sure it includes more women candidates. Romney realized, in his first round of resumes, that his current system for bringing in good people was not capturing the full complement of talented people the state had to offer, and he went about changing that system. It’s exactly what the women’s groups and liberal operatives who made Romney’s clumsy phrasing into a terrible “affront to women” ask businesses and governments to do every day in an attempt to avert institutional or cultural tilts toward male prevalence. In Massachusetts, Romney effectively used the “binders” collected by women’s group, MassGAP to, well, close the gap they wanted closed. Indeed, Romney’s cabinet reflected a higher percentage of women throughout his term than any of the 2012 members of the Democratic Governors Association’s leadership team.

A new study reveals the New York Times might want to gather binders of its own, because its current process of identifying sources is leaving a source pool that does not look like America.

In an analysis of 352 front-page stories from the Times in January and February 2013, we found that Times reporters quoted 3.4 times as many male sources as female sources.

Sources were identified as either male, female or unknown. Unknown were institutions, those only quoted as “spokespersons,” anonymous sources, etc. In total, only 19 percent (or 465 of 2,411) sources were female. The front-page stories were categorized as World, U.S., Politics, Art, Business, DealBook, Education, Health, N.Y./Region, Science, Sports, Style and Technology.

The study authors looked at a couple factors. They studied how the news category of the story affected the number of female sources, whether the author’s gender affected his/her use of women sources, the “usual suspects” pool problem, and whether women are just less likely to want to be sources.

There was no category where reporters quoted more female sources than male sources…

While the discrepancy in sources exists regardless of the reporter’s sex, it is larger in stories written by men…

Jodi Kantor, the Times Washington correspondent who wrote several stories analyzed in UNLV’s project, said some women shy away from being sources.

“I have sometimes found that women — even those who are very accomplished in their fields — are less willing than their male counterparts to speak to reporters,” Kantor said via email.

She has also run into some situations where finding female sources just isn’t an option…

“There’s the issue of more stories, and fewer and fewer people to cover these stories,” she said. “So who has time to go get new sources? Journalists then just default to same five white guys they have had in their Rolodex for years.”


The Poynter suggestion to journalists in tackling discrepancies:

There are resources available to help journalists find female experts.

The OpEd Project connects female experts in all fields to high-level media outlets. SheSource, powered by Women’s Media Center, is a database founded in 2005 with female experts on diverse topics. The POWER Sources Project, founded by Pozner in 2001, also helps reporters find knowledgeable, diverse female sources.

Think of them as online binders.

Might I add that soft-pedaling the desire to caricature every right-of-center viewpoint as solely held by white males might lead to more women and minorities by virtue of acknowledging they exist on the right.

Now, please enjoy the spectacle of the nation’s leading newspaper, whose sources represent men almost four times more often than women, allowing a president, with a history of paying women on his campaign and in his administration less than men, to lambaste Romney for using “binders full of women” to improve representation of women in his cabinet. And scene.

Front-page photo credit to jkfid on Flickr.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Lack of ladies, gray or otherwise.
==================================

The (50)Fifty Shades!(sarc)

MKH,I couldn’t help myself,ahem!!

canopfor on July 19, 2013 at 3:12 PM

binders full of women

Spitzer: “How much?”

faraway on July 19, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Think of them as online binders.
===============================

Maybe’s NYT’s have seen the light,or sumpins!!

canopfor on July 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Can they bring me binders of sammiches?

faraway on July 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Or the fact that the White House pays female staffers less. That “binder of women” statement becoming an issue was a page ripped straight out of a middle school playground.

John the Libertarian on July 19, 2013 at 3:19 PM

“Going on a bender for binders full of womens.”

But what about all those out of work men? And aren’t we moving back to a time when women stay home and have babies, and cook dinner?

kirkill on July 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM

They don’t have to wear panties.

trs on July 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

that binder’s empty, Mary K…

ted c on July 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Of course, there’s an alternative explanation. I know this might sound sexist, but maybe women tend to be more shy, prudent, or even intelligent as to whether they give opinions to “journalists” who often don’t have much respect for accuracy (or the truth). I’m not talking about the woman on the street type of interview, but the professional class of experts and business types. I’ve known several that abhor politics and controversy. Maybe it’s just the fact that men are stupider and tend to shoot their mouths off more. Hmm?

MichiCanuck on July 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

The problem with pointing out the NYT’s hypocrisy is that it assumes that gender equality is an underlying good.

The underlying good is the opportunity for gender equality. When the reality of gender distribution is different, than our world should reflect that. In the field I work in most, 90% of the top people are guys. For reporters to search around for gals just to get to 50% in quoted news sources is wrong.

This is a mundane, everyday argument that people can agree or disagree with. But conservatives are terrified of stating it. And I fear that posts like this one don’t help one bit.

bobs1196 on July 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Come on – the estrogen level in the NYT newsroom is higher than that at a Mary Kay convention.

Steve Eggleston on July 19, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Now, please enjoy the spectacle of the nation’s leading newspaper, whose sources represent men almost four times more often than women, allowing a president, with a history of paying women on his campaign and in his administration less than men, to lambaste Romney for using “binders full of women” to improve representation of women in his cabinet. And scene.

But it doesn’t matter, that’s the real point, facts and truth do not matter to journalists…it’s the story, however they can weave it.

So what if they have 10 times more men, it won’t matter, they will just ignore it, just like ignoring the Obama and his dismal failures.

And that is where the Republican party fails, they should continuously be blasting the dems, the NYT on this…forget the really important stuff, campaigns are won on emotion.

When Carville said “It’s the economy stupid”, the economy is worse now, and has been, but it was the emotional statement using “stupid” as the catalyst.

Dragging a $20 bill through the trailer park, “Tear down this wall”, the words is what moved people.

The Republicans need to continously bash the dems…”don’t know till we pass it”, 240 of the black community killed on the streets since the Zimmerman incident, not allowing minorities to choose a school…emotional things, death, education, jobs.

IRS, Benghazi, sure they are important, but not as campaign issues…

right2bright on July 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM

The underlying good is the opportunity for gender equality. When the reality of gender distribution is different, than our world should reflect that. In the field I work in most, 90% of the top people are guys. For reporters to search around for gals just to get to 50% in quoted news sources is wrong.

bobs1196 on July 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM

As a woman I very much agree with this.
Women gravitate generally toward some professions, as do men.
And sometimes women are not suitable at all for some professions, like combat soldiers, firemen, etc.
Yeah yeah yeah we know there are women who are exceptions to rules.
Like there are some women who can physically outperform some men & could be firemen.
I really take exception to people bristling at why there aren’t more women in a profession.
Yes I know there are still some sexist pigs out there in charge of hiring. I’ve encountered a few.
But I would say it’s not like it once was.

Badger40 on July 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

The Republicans need to continously bash the dems…”don’t know till we pass it”, 240 of the black community killed on the streets since the Zimmerman incident, not allowing minorities to choose a school…emotional things, death, education, jobs.

IRS, Benghazi, sure they are important, but not as campaign issues…

right2bright on July 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM

You do have a point here. I’ve been saying this myself. They need to get down & dirty & stop playing their game by their rules.
Like the Issa hearings, all that is is a stage for the Democrats to exploit for propaganda purposes.
Public TV service messages & full page ads in People mag & other rags need to be put out en masse.
As a teacher, I notice if you take the dimmest of students & continually bombard them with your facts, it does eventually sink in some.

Badger40 on July 19, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Hmmmmmm…..just like all the Black anchors at MSNBC. Oh, wait, my bad.

GarandFan on July 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

NYT’s reply: “You can only have just so many stories about the comings and goings in someone’s kitchen, before you start to lose readership. Eventually you have to interview some males.”

On another note, as bad an economist as Paul Krugman is, something tells me he has got to have an awesome potato casserole recipe floating up there in the vastly empty spaces of his cerebral cortex.

Glenn Jericho on July 19, 2013 at 5:10 PM

The NYT is here to point out conservative wrong doings, not actually follow any of the concepts they use to bash conservatives.

LincolntheHun on July 19, 2013 at 6:46 PM