Sunday news is one of the most influential and little talked about news programs. These programs set the tone for media coverage on all media platforms, and their editorial decisions are critical to public opinion.
Programs such as ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday from Fox News Channel, and Meet the Press from NBC, all while opening up discussions on key issues such as social justice, the racial and gender justice movements, have left much to be desired in their guest selection and, therefore, their representation.
According to a new report from Women’s Media Center (WMC), a non-profit organization founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, not a single Indigenous woman has appeared as a guest in all five programs. In fact, women of color were generally omitted.
The report “WMC Status of Women of Color in the American News Media” found that at this pivotal moment in the country’s history, the inclusion of women and people of color failed to reach these influential agendas.
Women, who make up nearly 51% of the population, made up just 32% of guest appearances last year. People of color, who make up almost 40% of the population, made up only 27%.
Despite making up 9% of the population, Latinas made up only 2% of guest appearances, while Asian women, 3% of the population, made up less than 1% of appearances.
“With white men dominating these big Sunday news shows, the perspectives of white men are shaping the culture by telling us who we are, what our roles in society are and what we can be,” Julie Burton wrote, President and CEO of WMC, in the foreword to the report. “It marginalizes women and people of color. It also results in the news media missing out on important articles and a wider audience. Industry and the public are underserved by the under-representation of women and people of color. “
In addition to examining the race and gender of all guests, the report also used these lenses to determine guest representation in specific expert groups focused on COVID-19, racial justice and the presidential election of 2020. Importantly, when these programs tackled racial justice, they all did a better job including African Americans (but not guests of other races and ethnicities). The numbers drop sharply and dramatically on other topics and overall inclusion.
As Initiated Explained, in a year of overlapping crises and major current events, communications experts say the widespread omission of Native American, Black, Latin and AAPI ethnic women is particularly glaring.
The exclusion of women of color ignores their experience and has a tangible effect on others in these communities and their quality of life, these experts say.
“These news shows continue to set the agenda for the week, so they are of paramount importance when you look at the news cycle, which in turn impacts how people see themselves portrayed in the news cycle. legislation, ”Kate McCarthy, program director for WMC. , Recount Initiated.
“The results of the report are to be expected, but I was a little surprised that it did not improve given all the conversations that have taken place around systemic racism”, Isabel Molina-Guzman, professor of studies latino / latino. and communications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, told media.
“That Latinas only make up 2% of guest appearances is pretty glaring, especially in the contemporary context where Latinos have been hit exponentially hard by COVID-19, by the recession and police violence, ”explained Molina-Guzman.
According to the report, when women of color are portrayed on TV news, they are often the same recurring group of people called upon to share their knowledge and feedback.
For example, 12 Latinas made 26 appearances, 6 Asian American women made ten appearances, and 46 black women made 143 appearances on the top five Sunday shows last year.
“I could name all the Latinas guests on these shows,” Molina-Guzman said. “When you have 12 people speaking on behalf of 18% of the population, that’s a problem.
“They are often called upon to play symbolic roles and sometimes used to strategically cover really racist beliefs,” she added.