As much as 75% of all Swiss media reports are about men. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2016, the global figure is as high as 82%. Little has changed over the past three years: Blick.ch currently reports about men in 75% of its articles, compared to just 25% of articles about women. This raises questions: are there no women worth reporting on? Do men make for better headlines? Or is the skewed media portrayal simply a mirror of the labour market, where women are still under-represented in the boardrooms? Academics have coined the term ‘gender content gap’ to describe the phenomenon. It is a widely discussed issue that frequently comes up at Ringier, a globally active media corporation.
Annabella Bassler, Chief Financial Officer of Ringier AG, said: ‘We want to achieve greater equality of representation between women and men in our media.’ To that end, she has launched the EqualVoice initiative, which is aimed at making a difference both internally and externally. It is headed by the publisher Michael Ringier and the group CEO Marc Walder, who explained: ‘The purpose of EqualVoice is to improve the visibility of women in the media.’
The entire initiative is based on the ‘EqualVoice factor’, a metric that indicates the visibility of men and women on the websites of Ringier and Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland. Katia Murmann, Chief Editor of Blick Digital, commented: ‘For each website, Ringier analyses its own data tool, Sherlock, the number of articles on women and men, and the number of articles on the subject.’ It then produces two scores: the ‘teaser score’, which evaluates the representation of women in images, headlines and leads on the Ringier websites, and the ‘body score’, which analyses the article texts in terms of the male and female voices included. Amazon Rekognition automatically detects and analyses the people depicted on the websites. The data experts and editors of Ringier regularly examine the accuracy of the algorithms and the quality of the collected data to ensure that the artificial intelligence continually acquires new knowledge.
Marc Walder said: ‘We are not trying to have every title mention men and women to the exact same extent all of a sudden. Our journalists are not activists. Every title has its own essence, and it ought to stay that way. Instead, we want our chief editors to raise awareness of equality among their teams. We firmly believe that women and men can achieve more together than they can separately. And there are many more women out there whose achievements are worth a report.’
‘Instead of promoting quotas, we are using our journalistic and technological influence to advocate and implement gender equality,’ Annabella Bassler added. ‘Equal treatment of women and men is a highly relevant concern in our society. We want to use our media to promote the topic and contribute to positive change.’
The editorial teams at Ringier have been exploring equal media representation for quite some time. BLICK regularly produces features about issues that are relevant to women. Together with the SRF and Wikipedia, the Chief Editor of Blick.ch, Katia Murmann, initiated the ‘Wikipedia Edit-a-thon’, aimed at increasing the number of women’s biographies available on the popular website.
A team of editors working for the Beobachter magazine regularly evaluates the gender balance in its reports and raises the subject during editorial meetings. At Schweizer Illustrierte and in the Swiss business media, equality is a hot topic, too.
Annabella Bassler said: ‘Many good measures are in place already. By launching EqualVoice, we want to join forces, learn from each other and provide a platform for this important issue.’
Today, the EqualVoice initiative was formally presented to all Ringier employees during a kick-off event. All editorial departments will appoint a project team that will explore the question: what does EqualVoice entail for the publication in question, and how can we implement EqualVoice in our daily work?
Annabella Bassler has great confidence in the algorithm that was developed for the initiative: ‘Our access to objective data that proves the representation of women and men in our media will help us enormously with our efforts to implement gender equality, as we no longer have to rely on our subjective perception of equality and inequality.’
Ringier will be sharing the evaluations and key indicators of the EqualVoice factor with its employees on a regular basis and publish them in the Ringier AG annual report from 2020.
Ringier AG, Corporate Communications