The Gender Gap in Newspaper Bylines

Last week, I came across a survey about the gender gap between male and female bylines at major newspapers across the United States. Newspapers surveyed included The New York Times, The Denver Post and The Chicago Sun-Times, and numbers were compiled from about 27,000 pieces of content produced during three months in 2014. The survey was engineered by the Women’s Media Center.

The numbers were generally not great. Male bylines largely outnumbered female bylines at most of the newspapers surveyed, including a 68 percent to 32 percent gap at The New York Times.

You can access the full report here, but it really struck a chord with me. As a journalism graduate (hello, Buffalo State College, class of 2012), and a female in that subject, it’s quite depressing to see the gender gap here, especially at some of the biggest newspapers in the country.

My curiosity was piqued, so I decided to undertake this project on a local level. For the month of June, I’ll be looking at the daily editions of The Buffalo News and comparing the percentage of male bylines to female bylines.

For the first week of June, male bylines outnumbered female bylines by a margin of 354-155 at The Buffalo News. This is a massive gender gap, albeit in just a one-week timeframe. Male bylines outnumbered female bylines EVERY day, including 56-21 and 59-19 numbers on Wednesday and Thursday of that week.

In addition to tallying overall daily counts, I broke it down by section. Muhales outnumbered females in EVERY section, aside from Sunday’s special Home & Style/Travel section. Male bylines outnumbered female bylines by a 55-8 margin in the sports section, and by a 48-16 margin in the business section. In the “cover” section, which includes the biggest local news, as well as national and world news – often pulled from the wire and written originally by reporters from papers such as The Los Angeles Times – women were outnumbered 82-37.

Even in the opinion section, women were vastly outnumbered by men, by a 58-20 margin.

The section where female bylines appeared the most: arts & entertainment. But even there, male bylines outnumbered the female bylines by a 48-38 margin, including a 21-4 margin in Thursday’s special “GUSTO” section.

For a full daily breakdown of the numbers, check out this PDF: Gender Gap TBN June 2015 Week 1.

How To Help: National Suicide Prevention Week

Yesterday, September 10th, marked World Suicide Prevention Day, and all this week is considered National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. While it’s astounding to me that we need to designate specific dates or weeks for these initiatives – shouldn’t every day be World Suicide Prevention Day? – I can understand specifying a date/week to focus on awareness of this issue.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, approximately one million people die each year worldwide from suicide. That’s one suicide every 40 seconds. The association also says that for every completed suicide, there are estimated 10-20 attempts.

This is an issue that affects everyone, worldwide.

That’s the thing about mental illness- it doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re poor, middle-class, or the richest man on Earth; whether you’re homeless or have a fancy home with seven bedrooms; whether you have a job or not, have kids or not, have a significant other or not. Regardless of class, gender, race, sexual orientation, upbringing or any other factor you can think of – mental illness does not discriminate, and it can affect anyone.

By this point, you’re probably thinking: Well, how can I help? An issue this national, this global, may seem like a huge task, but everyone can help end the stigma that surrounds mental illness and allow people to feel comfortable talking about their thoughts. Mental health is an important aspect of our daily lives, just as important as our physical health, and it should be treated as such, both in the good times and the bad times.

Did you know that more people in the United States die each year from suicide than from homicide?

So… what can you do?

Help yourself, then help others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling, whether that’s help from a friend or family member or a professional. It’s easy to hide within yourself and not reach out, but I promise you, things can get better. Don’t ever give up hope. As someone who has dealt with mental health issues in the past, I know it isn’t easy. I know it’s scary and may seem ridiculously intimidating to approach someone about your problems. I know you may not feel “worth it” or “important.” You are. I love you, lots of other people love you, and life can be an amazing thing, but you have to stick around to see it.

Be willing to listen to others, and don’t be afraid to approach someone if you feel like they may be in danger. Don’t isolate yourself and don’t isolate others who may be feeling that way. Mental illness has a stigma attached to it, but we can end that.

For more information, check out the links for further reading below.