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Study finds little change in five years as male bylines dominate UK national newspaper front pages

By Dominic Ponsford

A study by Women in Journalism has exposed the extent to which male journalists still dominate front-page bylines.

It looked at national newspaper front pages between 5 June and 22 July 2017 and found that 25 per cent of stories were written by women.

This suggests little has changed since WIJ last carried out a study of this kind, between 16 April and 13 May 2012. That study found that only 22 per cent of national newspaper front-page stories were written by women.

This time around the Daily Mirror had the least female front-page stories, on 9 per cent, followed by the Evening Standard on 15 per cent.

The Guardian had the most female bylines on the front, 43 per cent, possibly helped by the fact two women act jointly as its political editor. The only UK national newspapers currently edited by women are The Guardian, Daily Star and Sun on Sunday.

WIJ research on proportion of male versus female front-page bylines:

16 April to 13 May 2012 5 June to 22 July 2017
% male % female % male % female
Daily Express 50 50 84 16
Daily Mail 76 24 70 30
Daily Mirror 79 21 90 10
FT 67 33 65 35
The Guardian 78 22 57 43
Independent 91 9 N/A N/A
Sun 83 18 85 15
Daily Telegraph 86 14 63 38
The Times 82 18 75 25
Evening Standard n/a n/a 85 15
Metro n/a n/a 74 26

The Mirror said its findings were skewed by the fact that it had two female reporters on maternity leave and that this had a further impact because it has far fewer reporters than five years ago.

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The WIJ report states: “Progress is slow or non-existent. True, there are more female bylines on the front pages than there were five years ago, but only by a couple of percentage points. At three publications the numbers have actually gone backwards. And George Osborne’s Evening Standard is one of the worst offenders.

“So why are so few women writing those all-important front page stories? Part of the reason is the dearth of women in certain parts of the newsroom. For instance, politics is often the source of the ‘splash’ (the main story on the front page).

“But the Guardian is the only newspaper which currently has a female political editor (actually it has two, as they job-share). Therefore if politics is the lead story, in most cases it won’t have a female byline.”

The Guardian, Daily Star and Sun on Sunday are the only UK national newspapers with female editors.

The report says: “Across all papers, the backbench – which decides where stories are placed and how they are presented – is an almost entirely male preserve. The business, politics and sport sections are still overwhelmingly dominated by men.”

The research found that 66 per cent of the senior roles in UK newspapers are held by men.

Read the report in full.

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