Erika Fry asks in the Columbia Journalism Review this week why — in 2012 — opinion writing is still mostly male. Despite some progress the OpEd Project, an organization that promotes diversity in opinion pages, says that newspaper op-ed sections are overwhelmingly populated by male perspectives. Fry reports that between Sept. 15 and Dec. 7, 2011 “women wrote 20 percent of op-eds in the nation’s leading newspapers — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.
“And women were practically absent in the debate of many hard news subjects, with their opinions accounting for 11 percent of commentaries on the economy, 13 percent on international politics, 14 percent on social action and 16 percent on security. Perhaps just as striking, women produced just over half — 53 percent — of commentaries on ‘women’s issues.’”
Though harder to track, statistics on racial, ethnic, and class diversity on opinion pages are just as jarring. A similar three-month byline survey, released in April by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), showed one-half of one percent of op-eds in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were written by Latinos; in The Washington Post, it was 0 percent. Asian Americans authored an average of 2 percent; blacks roughly 5 percent (though that rate was lifted by the Post’s 10 percent).”