Who Makes the News in Russia? GMMP looks into gender balance in Russian media

Written by Alona Melnyk

Hem/News/Who Makes the News in Russia? GMMP looks into gender balance in Russian media

For the first time in 20 years, Russia joined WACC’s Global Media Monitoring Project – a study that looks into gender balance in media. In 2020, Fojo’s partner ANRI Media served as the local facilitator for GMMP in Russia. One of the most important findings of this study is that women are much less frequently mentioned in Russian media than men: 27% of analysed cases versus 70%.

One of the most important findings of this study is that women are much less frequently mentioned in Russian media than men: 26.6% of analysed cases versus 69.4%. This corresponds to the global trend: on average, according to the study, only 25% of publications of news media around the world mention women as subjects of experts. Russian media have not lagged too much behind the highest-performing regions on gender equality in the news. In Europe, women are mentioned in 28% of publications and in North America – in 33% of news stories.

Some of the interesting findings of the Russian study come from the thematic analysis of publications. Men are often protagonists in Russian news pieces covering foreign policy issues (16.5%) and emergencies (10.6%). Women stand out as protagonists mainly in articles related to medicine (16.4%), education (16.4%), child abuse and sexual abuse of children (14.8%) – topics traditionally considered “feminine”.

Graph 1: Distribution of the subjects by topics of publications depending on sex

Another important factor is how women are framed in media coverage. In Russia, when women are mentioned in publications, their marital status is reported more often than men’s (14,2% of cases compared with 5.7%). If a woman is mentioned in an article, her photo or video is more often attached as an illustrative material: in 21.6% of cases in comparison with 8.6% of cases of men.

Confirming previous research, the GMMP study also found out that Russian media prefer to quote male experts’ opinions in their publications. Journalists turn to men for commentary in 70% of cases. Women are invited to comment as experts mainly on topics of education (26.3%), poverty, housing and social security, health care, environment, and tourism (10.5% each). Men are most often speaking as experts in such areas as foreign policy (10.7%), poverty, housing problems and social security (10.7%), legal and judicial systems, and legislation (8.9%).

Graph 2: Distribution of the experts or commentators
by topics of publications depending on sex

One positive fact that researchers have noticed is that Russian media are open about gender-based violence: abuse against women is widely reported. Women are twice as often as men portrayed as victims in publications: in 23.9% of cases in comparison with 12.6% of men. According to the researchers, this means that women’s stories are not hidden, and journalists are not afraid to call women victims if this is the case.

Moreover, publications that contain а story of a woman or a group of women are quite widespread: such publications are 11.3% of the total number, which is considered a high proportion (considering the variety of all topics and publications included in the research).

On the other hand, only 1.2% of studied publications challenged gender stereotypes.

The study has also looked into the situation of female journalists working for Russian media. The results of the analysis confirmed that “glass walls” stand in the way of journalists of a certain gender when choosing a publication topic. Women journalists specialise mainly in social journalism, while male journalists major in political and sports journalism. It was also confirmed through the GMMP probe, that “the glass ceiling” is a reality for Russian female journalists: it is harder for women to get jobs in more prestigious and well-paid national-level media.

The GMMP 2020 study was conducted on September 29. Research teams in 116 countries monitored 30172 stories published in newspapers, broadcast on radio and television, and disseminated on news websites and via news media tweets in 2251 outlets. In Russia, the local research team analysed publications of 17 regional or local and four national publications. In total, 257 publications were covered. 

The full GMMP 2020 Report can be found here.

Russian Federation National GMMP 2020 Report can be found here.