#WhoTalks Data Collection is Ending, But the Fight Is Not Over
The fight is not over.
If there is anything this election season taught us at GenderAvenger, it’s that the fight is not over. We monitored six top cable news shows for the last eight months of the presidential election, and what we learned is this: there will be no balanced representation for women unless we demand it.
In the hour of commentary following the election on November 8th, MSNBC and Fox News included appearances by women in only 22% and 23% of their coverage, respectively. The top marks for the night went to CNN, which still only managed to include women 38% of the time. In the three morning shows the next day, Morning Joe came in with an abysmal 19%, and Fox & Friends was a close second at 21%. New Day included appearances by women in 43% of their commentary, which gives us hope that they may be learning the lesson of inclusion. New Day’s average for the rest of the week dropped back down to 37% post-election, but after a few Hall of Shame call-outs, we’re happy to note that this final week average is higher than their previous six-month average.
What the numbers show us:
What the numbers show us is that media decision-makers only remember to include women either when they’re reminded to do so or when the subject matter explicitly calls for a woman’s voice (but even then the ball often gets dropped.) Women are still not prioritized as a necessity for fair and balanced news coverage.
It is too easy to brush this election aside as a sign that our country just isn’t ready. We must resist that narrative. Ready or not, women are here. Women will be here through this election and the next. The low rate of inclusion we found throughout the Who Talks? project, with the sudden but always short-lived spikes around so-called “women’s issues”, suggests that women’s voices only matter conditionally. We are here to say that women’s voices always matter.
Our attention isn't wavering.
As we move forward, the daily tracking of the six Who Talks? shows will come to a close, but our attention will not waver. The country has elected its president, and women’s presence in all aspects of government and commentary about government remain as important as ever. With the help of our Who Talks? partner, CAWP, we will keep track of the Trump administration’s cabinet and subcabinet appointees, where women currently make up “just 21 percent of the staff and advisers.”
We will monitor the conferences and panels of pundits, scholars, and politicians as they discuss and propose policies and changes under the new administration. Every time they purport to speak for the American public but fail to include women in a balanced and substantial way, we will be there to call them out and demand better representation.
GenderAvenger will continue to ask the important question: who talks?
The final Who Talks? report will be published soon to detail the state of women’s representation across the three major networks we tracked: MSNBC, Fox, and CNN. While the daily GA Tallies have come to an end, the central question of the project remains, and you can count on GenderAvenger to keep asking: who talks?