Hold The Front Page




Results from a study of Irish newspapers by Impact. From top: The 18 people who were mentioned first in each lead article in the study; and the female/male ratio of bylines and lead articles

The trade union IMPACT has carried out a study of the front pages of The Irish Times, the Irish Independent, and The Examiner.

The decision followed the publication of a paper “Seen but not Heard: How Women Make Front Page News” which looked at the national daily papers in Britain.

Lughan Deane and Patricia O’Mahony, who carried out the study, write:

We decided to look at the ways in which gender is represented on the front pages of Ireland’s three national daily broadsheet newspapers: The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times.

We analysed a week’s worth (Monday to Saturday) of each newspaper’s front page. We collected Examiner front pages from Monday the 5th of September 2016 until Saturday the 10th. We collected Independent front pages for the following week (12th – 17th Sept.) and Irish Times articles for the week after that (19th – 24th Sept.).

For each front page we recorded the number of male and female journalists whose bylines appeared and whether the lead article was written by a man or woman.

We also made note of every single name mentioned in the contents of the front page articles (as well as photo captions, etc.) and divided them according to gender.

Separately, we recorded the first name to appear in the front page’s lead article and made a note of the individual’s gender.

We counted all words within quotation marks – direct quotes – and, wherever possible, noted whether the quotes were attributed to men or women.

We counted the number of men and women represented in photographs and pictures on the front pages.

How often do female journalists secure a spot on the front page? Our analysis of bylines showed that just 21% of bylines on the front page are those of women (79% are those of men). In total, 21 of the 98 bylines we encountered were female.

…We found, in our three papers, that women only wrote (or co-wrote) the lead article 8% of the time. 92% of lead articles are written by men.  Note that the percentages [above] should only be taken as indicative of a larger pattern as the sample involved (a week in each case) is so small.

Over the three weeks and across the three papers, 235 names were mentioned within the contents of the front page articles. Men’s names dominated the contents of front page news. We found that 82% of people mentioned or quoted (192 individuals) were male and that just 18% (43 individuals) were female.

Here is the full list of names mentioned on the front pages. The female names are in red.


We also recorded the gender of the first person to be named in the lead article on each front page (18 names in total).

Of these names 17 were male (Taoiseach Enda Kenny was the first person named on two occasions) and 1 was female. That’s 94% male and 6% female.

None of the first names in the lead articles of the Examiner or Times was female. The Independent had one example.

While percentages derived from such small numbers are not fully reliable, the pattern is indicative of a wider picture.

[Pictured top] are the 18 people who are mentioned first in each lead article.

Note that the only woman pictured is the late Caitriona Lucas, volunteer coastguard and IMPACT member, who lost her life in tragic circumstances earlier this month.

Read the study in full here

Thanks UCD English Grad Soc


53 thoughts on “Hold The Front Page

  1. MoyestWithExcitement

    Surely this is a symptom of a problem as opposed to being one in itself. We are a conservative society still stuck in the 1950s in many ways and dominated by men. It would make sense that most things happening will be dominated by men. The vast majority of TDs are men so the majority of political stories will be about men.

    No doubt bias is to blame in part and the media obviously have a lot of influence over society so maybe they should lead by example and introduce a minimum quota, however.

      1. Cian

        A good chunk of the frontpage news is political, crime and sports. If you have men dominating politics, crime and sports then you will have men dominating the front pages. So the news is a symptom of the underlying problem.

  2. nellyb

    Maybe women dont like writing for nursing home bulletins. Or may be not interested at all. What are the gender ratios on journo courses?

  3. Clampers Outside!

    One week of headlines, seriously?
    Is there no one else laughing at the idea that that is supposed to be representative?

    Anyone with a bit of cop on knows that small samples cough up extremities that skew with more weight than is deserving, than they do in robust samples.

    This study is not worth the paper and ink.

    It’s as useless as the marketing salaries “research” in The Irish Times today, was also on RTE Radio 1, where the headline is (paraphrase) Male Marketing Directors earn 18% More than Women Marketing Directors…. no mention of time in that job, time with that company, hrs worked, etc…
    And in the body text, it says that women earn more in the jnr positions, earning 2 – 12% more than men.

    Clearly, the salary drop occurs around maternity years…. from The Glassdoor piece – “the median earnings of Irish women who have no children and who are aged between 25 and 44 are 17.5% higher than those of their male counterparts.”

    So, give men and women the same maternity / paternity and the last big hurdle for pay parity will be removed. After that, it’ll be down to who wants to work more to earn more.

    Bad research delivers bad decisions, really broad surface-surfing research is not good research and results in generalisations that are utterly useless.

    1. noncanonicalpokemon

      Sample size is small, but it chimes with the other study linked at the beginning (which has a larger sample) which suggests that even a small sample delivers fairly indicative results on this.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        I dunno, the linked study looks dodgy too, and remember, it’s not an objective piece either… the ‘radio presenters’ one that was done here a year or so ago was shown to be suspect and highly subjective if memory serves…
        This with a small sample, no, a ‘tiny’ sample, is open to, and should be treated with derision.

        1. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

          How big is an appropriate sample size and how do you know whether the sample size is appropriate?

        2. Don Pidgeoni

          Clampers – you think a 1% difference is statistically significant and that a YouTube video counts as evidence. I’d leave the critical analysis to someone else.

  4. Eamonn Clancy

    Can they break it down a bit further? How many blue eyed V browned eyed people, left handed V right handed etc. These are the real issues of the day.

  5. paval

    There is a well documented gender imbalance at senior levels in politics, business, and most other fields. The media reports on the news which is largely driven by these senior people. As well as that more men are involved in crime and violent incidents, are murder victims and die more often in road collision. So it is hardly surprising when newspaper articles in turn have a poor gender balance. What exactly does this study tell us about the media other than it reports the news?

    1. noncanonicalpokemon

      from Impact’s article:

      “The overall picture is a stark one – men dominate virtually every aspect of front page news. It is interesting to consider why this may be the case. Natasha Walter, the feminist writer and activist, suggests it may be because “the masculine establishment reproduces itself”. In other words, men are already in senior positions within news-making and agenda-setting organisations and so it follows that front pages would echo this dynamic.”

      in fairness.

        1. Djin Genie

          Adding a smiley face doesn’t actually mask your constant anti-woman pecking as somehow jocular or more palatable. Just so you know.

          You think it’s totally acceptable and not at all noteworthy that over the course of three randomly picked weeks the news is dominated roughly 80% by men? That the small sample size means it must definitely be some kind of anomaly and not the status quo? Yeah, sure, it’s the study that’s biased, not you. There’s no chance you’d be spewing outrage about society overcorrecting in favour of women if the stats were inverted.

          1. Clampers Outside!

            LOL! Being anti-gender-feminism is not anti-woman for Jebus sake! It’s not like the whole gender-feminism line is about equality anyway, it’s not.

            The smiley face is a genuine ‘Laugh Out Loud’ smiley, just so you know, because it is laughable for anyone to think that a gender-feminist writer is going to write anything of balance…. please, don’t be so naive.

            Might I also add, the bloody article is terribly written, jumping from a claimed ‘one week’ analysis of headlines to “over three weeks”…. which was it? On top of that, care to enlighten me on how you know the weeks were random, there’s nothing in the study to suggest that? And if random, what else was supposedly random, and random to what extent? I wouldn’t be surprised if the weeks analysed were specifically chosen… it’s been done before.

            It’s mucky research, simple as, and not very scientific based on what info is available about the methods; and fact that even the writers on a number of occasions say so, regarding sample size.

            That is, it be useless… IMO.

            Bad research leads to bad decisions – that’s not an opinion.

          2. LW

            Haha Clampers, your dyscalculia strikes again. They took a week of each of three papers, three separate weeks. It’s right there in the text. They were the three weeks immediately prior to the publication of the results. What exactly is murky about it? It’s completely reproducible, should you be so inclined

          3. Clampers Outside!

            Thanks LW for the correction. Glad to have iot cleared up then that they weren’t ‘random’ weeks too.

            So, I take it you are happy with the rest of my comment, the biased writer and a week per paper is still super tiny. ‘Mucky’ not murky, thanks, meaning it carries the potential to be corrupted, to be poor, as the writers say themselves.

          4. LW

            Clampers I’m rarely happy with anything you write, but I’ve found that if I single out any more than one thing you tend to shut down for a while, before unloading a rake of links on top of me. On the subjects of links, that you clearly never read, I’m still making my way through yesterday’s info dump. Do you know that you put up yet another one that disagrees with what you’re saying?


            You linked me that one yesterday, and it gives the CDC study a rating of Mostly True

          5. Clampers Outside!

            ” accurate but needs clarification or additional information ” that’s why it was posted. And… “Mostly true” is acceptable to you now…seriously? Well done for lowering your standards. I want truth, not statements or info that is mostly something, especially when it is peoples lives being destroyed.

            Can you imagine the news every evening browught to you by LW… a bit of this happened, it was mostly true…
            LOL !

            Then, after that is a link to the Washington Post which says – “To be technical about it, the “rape” category of the CDC report consisted of rape, attempted rape and “alcohol- or drug-facilitated penetration;” one does not quite get to the one in five statistic without the third category”

            The link below that goes into why the alcohol question throws the research into a completely subjective area…. no distinction made about amount of drink taken; and additionally, in that study it was up to the telephone interviewer to interpret whether or not the person was raped, even if the person dopes not say so.

            These are two huge problems with that study that clearly you feel to be perfectly acceptable.

            I don’t, and so do many experts who are not biased by any desire for a particular outcome.

            let the great LW takedown continue… tripping over themselves.

            Meh, plse try harder.

          6. LW

            I just couldn’t believe that you’d posted yet another link that disagreed with you. I’m wondering now if your approach is actually a method of spreading awareness about rape culture, I was certainly unaware of the study until you brought it to my attention. I do like how you lump yourself in with experts, that’s a nice touch.

            I might ask again, the Dublin Rape Crisis study you linked doesn’t have the methodological problems the CDC one does, and that produces similar results. Any comment on that?

          7. Clampers Outside!

            Haha… as I said LW, try harder. I see you’re just refusing too see the truth in that CDC rubbish. as per above.

            I’m not going to compare known rubbish with what I understand to be decent research, it’s pointless.

            As for your claim I lump myself in with experts… LOL!
            You said that, no one else :) Is that because I like good unbiased researchers, must be. Well, if you insist, I’ll take that, thanks. You can keep yourself happy in the company of gender-feminist liars and bias.

        2. Caroline™

          Just in case anyone is interested. This is how the question was actually phrased in the CDC survey:

          “Sometimes sex happens when a person is unable to consent to it or stop it from happening because they were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out from alcohol, drugs, or medications. This can include times when they voluntarily consumed alcohol or drugs or they were given drugs or alcohol without their knowledge or consent. Please remember that even if someone uses alcohol or drugs, what happens to them is not their fault.
          When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people have ever…”

        3. DMG

          Clampers, you know better than to claim bias just because someone is a feminist writer and activist. Do you think the folks at Amnesty and Barnardos for example are capable of producing decent research about human rights and childrens welfare without it being biased?

          There is a hint of the accusatory “shrill” note going on there. She’s a decent writer, with valid observations, there is no need for the poke.

  6. Cian

    …looking at this week on those three papers we have a almost 50:50 split on Pictures (6 male:5 female) and Authors (10:9); but a 12:4 split on subject.

  7. Djin Genie

    Sorry, I can’t see a reply button under that thread!

    Figures from the other 49 weeks of the year probably skew heavily toward male dominance too, but why bother to speculate. The fact that ANY three weeks of the year could throw up this degree of imbalance is noteworthy, just as it would be noteworthy if they observed female domination, whatever the contributing factors. It’s a stark illustration of imbalance over the period, an observation that is in and of itself useful.

    My criticism is that you rubbish the fact that there is any imbalance: not just in this instance, but on many posts where you immediately jump to attack and dismiss claims of social and institutional sexism. Critiquing methodologies and exploring contributing factors is one thing, but persistantly commenting as though apparently bassist imbalances actually have excusable causes is another. You obviously see certain spheres of public discourse as having “overcorrected” in favour of women, which is a legitimate concern, but it achieves little to overcorrect drastically the other way in response.

    1. rotide

      There is no imbalance in the coverage of the news. As has been pointed out ad nauseaum, the media merely reflects the gender imbalance in certain areas in society.

      You can have a go at the byline issue if you want but anything else is snowflake feminism.

      1. Djin Genie

        To clarify: yes, duh, you’d have to be living under a rock to be surprised that far more male names crop up as key figures in current affairs – nobody’s making the stupid argument that newspapers are sexist for covering the news. What is shocking is the extent to which male voices actually write the news: I certainly did not expect to the male/female lead split to be so high. Thanks for permission to have a go at it!

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