Keeping up-to-date with the Internet.

October 15, 2008

As future journalists we must learn to understand our readers so that as the news industry changes we are able to draw-in and maintain readership.

Overall women still use the Internet less often than men, although this has changed over the past few years to the extent that there is now only a few percent in difference (click here for details).

What is interesting from a journalist’s perspective is that although women are catching up with men in most measures of online life, there are huge differences in the types of ways they use the Internet. Studies have shown that men generally use the internet to find sports, financial and hard news information, whereas women are more inclined to use support groups and interactive forums.

Lumping women (or men) together does not reflect their diversity, but the Internet often reflects and reinforces stereotypes that remove many women from central political debates. This tends to isolate them within platforms that are often not considered with equal weight by malestream media.

Obviously there is a lot of rubbish on the Internet but this is not to say that these platforms are not valuable. gives tips on ‘how to catch your man and keep him’, but is also a great example of an enormous support group of ordinary women who offer advice on subjects from marital law to post-break-up stress.

Blogs provide a forum for open discussion about politics, human rights, stories, ideas, conversation and women’s issues. Black Looks: Musings and Rants by an African Fem, Blog Sisters and Media Girl are the sorts of sites that are increasingly used by men and women who are disenchanted by news and politics in its traditional form. The Internet lends itself well as an alternative to more established news forms because it offers variable platforms for people to undermine the (essentially male-dominated) news industry.

So how much influence do female news consumers have in comparison to men if their strength lies in a different domain? And how can we interest such people in a business that is losing readers fast?

The World Association for Christian Communication issued a report, “Who Makes the News” showing that women’s views, news, concerns, and perceptions, as well as female journalists are seriously under-represented in the media around the world.

The Global Monitoring Media Project 2005 also came to the conclusion that male journalists and their comments are prevalent in the media and highlighted how female journalists are often young and gorgeous, particularly in broadcast. Many of my favourite chief reporters and news editors are women, so it is not entirely a lost cause, but these are worrying attitudes.

Such attitudes disadvantage journalists, both male and female, because the way that news is traditionally presented leaves an enormous gap in the industry, and with increased opportunities to search for news in other places newspapers are losing readers fast.

The potential of the Internet is huge. But it is potential that hasn’t been tapped to its full extent. Many women are interested in politics and we must be wary of stereotypes, however, statistics are enormously helpful in enabling us as journalists to reach our readers and incorporate them in a more balanced way. Hopefully this will maintain maximum readership, using different kinds of platforms to draw in readers and take on board their opinions…keeping up-to-date on any changes along the way.


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