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January 20, 2016 02:35 PM UTC

Women's Media Center Slams Denver Post on Choice Coverage

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: The Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris bro-ports:

In The Denver Post, 38 percent of the bylines of stories about reproductive issues were from women, while 53 percent were from men. Regarding sources, The Denver Post ranked second to last of the outlets examined: 28 percent of the sources speaking about reproductivee issues were women, 52 percent were men, 13 percent were attributed to organizations, and the rest were unknown.

The only publication with fewer women quoted about reproductive issues was The Wall Street Journal.

The irony is not lost on The Colorado Independent that the reporter of this story identifies as male.


Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.
Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

A release from the Women’s Media Center today calls attention to an obvious problem in mainstream media coverage of women’s reproductive choice issues–or at least it should be obvious, though we suspect it won’t be to some even after reading:

“When it comes to stories about abortion and contraception, women’s voices are systematically stifled – as writers and as sources,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. Burton noted, “In articles about elections and reproductive issues, men’s voices prevail, especially in coverage of presidential campaigns, with male reporters telling 67 percent of all presidential election stories related to abortion and contraception.”

The gender of the reporter appears to affect whom they choose to quote and how they cover the story. WMC’s research shows that female journalists quote women more often than their male counterparts, while quotes from male sources predominate in articles written by men. Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center noted, “Since women play a greater role in reproduction, it would make sense for women to be the majority of the sources and authorities in its coverage.”

WMC research shows male voices dominate reproductive issues coverage as journalists and as sources. Female journalists wrote just 37 percent of articles about reproductive issues while their male counterparts penned 52 percent. Another 11 percent did not have bylines. Quotes from men account for 41 percent of all quotes in articles about reproductive issues while quotes from women account for just 33 percent.

“The American public — and especially women — deserve accurate, informed and experienced media coverage on reproductive health, state and federal legislation, abortion and contraception,” said Gloria Steinem. “This research is offered in the hope of increasing public information about reproductive justice — which means the right to have or not to have children — as a basic human right.”

The study looked at the authorship and use of sources in articles about reproductive issues in American politics at a number of leading daily newspapers around the nation. Colorado’s newspaper of record The Denver Post scored very low among those examined for both. Only 38% of stories in the Post on reproductive issues were authored by women while 53% were authored by men (the remainder had no byline at all). In terms of at least quoting women in stories about women’s reproductive issues, which you would think would be a priority, the Post did even worse: only 28% of such stories uses women sources. The only paper surveyed that did worse in this regard was the arch-conservative Wall Street Journal.

As we’ve discussed at length in this space, politically skewed coverage of abortion politics in local mainstream media has had a number of negative effects in recent years. These effects include Cory Gardner’s deceptive 2014 election victory, and an obfuscation of the clear connection between extreme anti-abortion rhetoric from Republican politicians and acts of violence like the domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. When we make this assertion, it is frequently attacked as sour grapes in belated defense of the losing Democratic incumbent in 2014, Sen. Mark Udall.

Well folks, here’s evidence that it’s more than “sour grapes.” Here is evidence of a very real problem.


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