Four women stand outside by a wall; another woman holds a mic up to one of the woman

Reflect Reality: Increasing women’s voices in the news

March 9, 2020

By Melissa Stasiuk

It’s a grim statistic: 19 per cent of experts cited in news stories globally are women.

To help change this, United for News has launched a comprehensive toolkit for newsrooms and businesses called Reflect Reality, informed by work done here at The Globe and Mail.

You will find The Globe and its staff featured in:

While the challenge of increasing female and racially diverse sources in our stories remains, we have shown that by focusing on areas we can control, we can improve. In her most recent column, Public Editor Sylvia Stead highlighted two areas leading the way: photos and opinion.

The Reflect Reality guide includes lessons from other newsrooms and organizations too. Bloomberg reveals lessons from their New Voices initiative, an internal effort to diversify the financial and business experts they turn to around the world. Public relations firm Edelman lends insights from the Trust Barometer and their efforts to advocate for gender parity in corporate spokespersons. The BBC’s 50:50 Project shares best practices for news teams to reach gender parity by tracking their sources daily. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers contributes expertise from their Women in News program. Informed Opinions shares strategies on how to cultivate sources and overcome female experts’ reluctance to be interviewed.

“Companies must foster environments where women are empowered to put themselves out there as go-to contacts for media interviews, panel discussions, and more,” said Lisa Kimmel, chair & CEO, Canada and Latin America, Edelman.

The strategies section is informed by United for News pilot projects with Canada’s The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Both newsrooms tested new interventions into their story production process, with a goal toward increasing female and racially diverse voices.

“What we are trying to do is break people’s habits. The intention is there, it’s just that when we are busy, we do things the exact same ways as always,” said Angela Pacienza, The Globe’s Executive Editor.

Reflect Reality was developed by Internews with support from the News Integrity Initiative and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.