A Personal Look At Gender Sourcing In My Journalism

Posted by admin on Apr 29, 2016 in news, opinion


Women are underrepresented in media.


Sure, most J-schools are 90% women, but that has little bearing on how everything pans out. In 2015, 68% of bylines at the New York Times went to male reporters, 67% at USA Today and 59% at The Wall Street Journal.

That’s not all: women are also missing in the stories themselves. The Global Media Monitoring Project reported that in 2015, only 24% of all people heard, read about or seen in the media are women. When you drill down to subject matter, the stats get even more skewed; only 16% of political coverage features women and 35% in tech and science.

This isn’t ‘new’ news to anyone who works in media; we all know this is an ongoing problem. Men get quoted more frequently as experts for a number of reasons (accessibility, relationships, etc) and while I’m sure no one intentionally does this, it’s a real issue. As long as one gender gets disproportionate column space, the other, by default, becomes a second class citizen and gets excluded from topics that relate to everyone. Journalists need to be cognizant of their own reporting bias, and make an extra effort to include both sexes


This issue is personal for me; on a recent story for Drone360 Magazine I was halfway through my reporting when I realized that every badass director, drone operator and entrepreneur I’d spoken to was male. To counter this, I reached out to the kickass Amelia Dronehart community to get some female voices. This wasn’t a story about sexism in drones (which I have written before) but one about the entertainment industry, and it was weird to find that it was only boys who were obviously involved/ talking about it/suggested as the company spokesperson.

A tweet from reporter Polly Mosendz alerted me to John R Platt’s great story on Motherboard; a feature about his quest to feature more female sources in his reporting.

He discussed how he managed to get from around 25-30% women voices to 43.55% in a year, through consciously using a wider pool.

That’s pretty awesome – but it got me wondering if this is something I’m guilty of. I don’t get a pass just because I have two X chromosomes. I decided to take an in-depth analysis of my own work over the last year. As a freelance journalist, I cover a bunch of different topics – recent stories include revenge porn laws, the business of pet funerals and yoga boxing – and I broadly fit into the ‘tech and lifestyle niche.’ With this in mind, I’d expect a relatively balanced gender division of sources.

I write for a lot of different publications, but to narrow this project down I’ve focused on my work for OZY Media, a company I do a lot of reporting for. I wrote approximately 67 stories between January 1st 2015 and March 2016; I use ‘approximately’ because I’m counting from date invoiced; not all my stories have been published yet, and some from 2014 were published during this time.

I’m aware this is a relatively small sample size, and I’m using this just to try and get a better understanding of my own work and bias; to discover what I need to work on. Way bigger studies and analysis have been done by other organizations; look a Max Berggren’s gender equality tracker (hat tip: Victoria Turk) the Women’s Media Center and the Geena Davis Center for more detailed research.

I counted the gender of all experts quoted, and the gender of the main characters in my stories. This was counted per story; a number of people have been quoted in multiple pieces (men and women) and this wasn’t documented separately.


Here’s what I found (put into percentages for ease of analysis).

Overall gender total: This includes every person spoken to

54.4% Female
45.5% Male

This is encouraging. I was a little worried – as someone who does a lot of tech reporting – that this might not be the case. I’m not sure why this is so balanced, I’m going to put it down to having a good network of female tech experts I contact regularly.

Gender total: Sources/Experts only

60.5% Female
39.5% Male

Gender total: Story main focus

47.6% Female
52.4% Male

Still pretty even, but a shift from earlier. Perhaps this is related to the number of male tech CEO’s?

These results are nice and all – a great virtual back patting’s going on now – but I wanted more data. This is my dive into story genres, to see if this switched things up.

Technology Reporting

Gender count: Technology Story focus

23% Female
77% Male

These are the numbers I expected to see earlier, and they make me feel pretty bad. Sure, men make up between 70-95% of all tech CEOs (depending on which study you read) but that’s no reason to not include women who are kicking ass.

Gender count: Technology Story sources
Female 70%
Male 30%

This is also strangely skewed. I’d account for this by the fact that I have a number of great women tech reporters that I regularly use as expert sources. I’ll make more of an effort to be inclusive to the great male experts as well.

Travel Reporting

Gender count: Travel Story focus

Female 27%
Male 73%

Thoughts: This is unexpected, and I can’t really account for this, other than I was unaware in my reporting that men were so prevalent in travel; I’d kinda assumed this might be pegged as ‘female’ in the same way that fashion is. I have looked at my fashion stories, and they skew significantly towards women as CEOs, but I had so few that I didn’t feel that data should be included here.

Gender count: Travel Story sources
Female 56%
Male 44%

Overall thoughts:

I’m surprised and pleased by these results. It feels to good to know I’ve been fair in my reporting, and that I’m representing people well. I still need to work on making sure I speak to more women, especially those who are tech CEO’s/entrepreneurs, but overall I feel pretty good. This has taken up more time than expected, and that’s OK, there’s value in understanding what I’ve been doing, not just blindly moving forwards, but having knowledge and forethought for future work.

I’d suggest more reporters attempt this with their own work; the better we understand ourselves, the better we can reach our readers.

Note: I’m aware this is an incredibly complex topic, and that by looking purely at gender I haven’t touched upon ageism, race or ableism. I hope to expand on those issues in follow up blogs; I kept this tightly focused on gender due to the narrow scope of this story. I welcome any comments/follow up thoughts people might have.


The Maker Movement Is Taking Over America By Doing The Opposite of What’s Smart

Posted by admin on Apr 18, 2016 in opinion, technology

maker media dale

I didn’t mean to drink the maker movement Kool-Aid. It happened by mistake. I was swept away by how impressive Maker Media is, and how it’s succeeded by taking the opposite route from other media enterprises.

Today Maker Media is a multipurpose machine. The company publishes a number of magazines and books each year, have a robust web presence, a large YouTube presence, and sell products online on Maker Shed. And they host Maker Faires, festivals that celebrate the “DIY mindset,” showcased through art, electronics, and craft projects. The first was held in 2006. There are now 151 worldwide.

For reference, the 2015 Maker Faires had over 1.1 million visitors — the same audience size as Taylor Swift’s 1989 world tour.

Maker Media holds a number of additional events a year; free to attend Maker Camps designed to inspire children, and MakerCon’s, which give professionals the tools they need to run full-time maker businesses.

I went to Make: Magazine’s pop-up Christmas store in San Francisco to meet Dale Dougherty, the founder of Maker Media. He founded Make: Magazine a decade ago, and unwittingly godfathered a movement that’s spread across America, culminating in a Maker Faire held on The White House lawn last year.

The definition of a maker is someone who creates or produces things, and this can be anything: tech startups, crafting, robots, woodworking. Basically, it’s participating in a hobby that’s proactive, instead of reactive. Building an LED dragon vs. watching The Real Housewives. Read more…

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Inside my first Cannabis Convention: Hempcon 2015

Posted by admin on May 23, 2015 in news, opinion, Strange events



The cannabis “medible” industry  is gaining more traction every day (for people who  eat their weed) and I was curious to see what creators in the space were up to. A convention is the perfect place to see  industry connoisseurs, and 420 tends to have gatherings forming across the states. I chose to go to Hempcon 2015, a large cannabis exhibition event held at Cow Palace in San Jose, six miles south of San Francisco. The three-day event took place from the 17th-19th April 2015, the dedicated 4/20 weekend (naturally) and I attended on the Sunday.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana – almost two decades ago, in 1996 –  and as a new resident, I was intrigued  as to what  Hempcon would offer me. It’s not the most famous expo ( I’d wager The High Times Cannabis Cup has that that honor) but it has been running  since 2010,  and holds events across the country. Read more…

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The Eat Like Sh*t Foodie Trend

Posted by admin on Dec 3, 2014 in opinion, random, Yum

Vulgar Chef 2
Red Velvet Corn Dogs . Loaded Chili Cheese Carrot F**k Fries. Ice Cream Cookie Tacos. Poutine Sushi. Whiskey Pickled Eggs.

Yes, this is actually food. These odd concoctions are the work of Kyle Marcoux, 28, who runs the Vulgar Chef blog. He operates on shock value, and his recipes are stuffed with profanities. Seriously. The instructions for his mac ’n’ cheese say: “Start tossing in cheese and spices and cook the tits off. Cook on low/med until that shit is creamy as fuck.”  He’s crude, but strangely appealing at the same time, an antidote to the ultra sanitized, Pinterest-fueled world of twee chefs like Julia Child and Paula Deen.

Marcoux recognizes this, and references it in the introduction of his Eat Like Shit Cookbook , self-published in September. “This isn’t your typical Rachael fuckin’ Ray cookbook, this shit is way more legit. It’s so legit that a lot of the recipes don’t even have measurements,” he wrote.This openness had made him an antihero in the cooking world, and gained him nearly 40,000 followers on Instagram . Marcoux doesn’t pretend he’s a trained chef. In his own words, he’s just a dude getting drunk and cooking in his parents’ basement: “more like a rebel cook with a potty mouth who loves artery-clogging cooking,” he said to OZY. He uses his friends as lab rats, testing new recipes on them. “I know what they’ll like and what they’ll puke on,” he said. Read more…

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Explaining Ebola for Children

Posted by admin on Oct 13, 2014 in news, opinion, technology

There’s a lot of hyperbole about ebola at the moment. This makes sense; it’s a scary disease with no vaccination and people are concerned. But that’s no reason for misinformation, or for people to run around making wild claims and confusing the issue. Most of us aren’t biochem majors and can’t break down complex details about drug interaction/ virus systems etc, but we do have questions we want answered.

An explainer:

I was recently trying to explain Ebola to a ten year old who was very frightened and was thinking about how best to help them. I like to go with something visual, it’s easier to take in, seems more accessible and breaks down the subject matter. A number of places have created useful Ebola guides but I felt they had something missing. The fun angle. I’m not making light about the serious of the virus, but want to put it in context and the humor (hopefully) means people and kids won’t turn off when it gets a little heavy. hey, if Miley Cyrus and Unicorns can help, why not? (watch for this to be explained).

You can see what other outlets have done below, and do let me know how you think mine holds up.

The Cartoon Network

Read more…

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Meet The Man Who Want People To See Pit Bull Dogs as “Cuddly”

Posted by admin on Jul 14, 2014 in Animal Oddities, news, opinion


Pit Bull dogs tend to have a public image problem. They’re consistently viewed as “dangerous dogs”, and regularly vilified by the media. Other breeds get a bad rep as well; rottweilers, and boxers also fall into the perceived danger dog category. Yes, some of these dogs have done the things they’re accused of; – one of the most recent high profile incidents being that of Mickey, an Arizonan pit bull who mauled a 4 year old child.

If this had happened a few years ago it’s pretty likely that Mickey would have been put down, but instead he was given a prison sentence. Yes, a real one. The dog was charged to be neutered and defanged, sentenced to live in a no kill animal shelter inside an Arizona prison. Bizarrely, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, (he of the angry views on immigration) was behind this odd dog life sentence.

Artist Douglas Sonders has been working to change the public perception and opinion of pit bull’s as dangerous dogs, and cases like Mickey might suggest that his work has been reaping benefit. Sonders has been working toward since 2012, when he started the “Not a Bully” campaign, to help humanize the “dangerous dogs” breeds.

His journey started at a Petco adoption event. Sonders had been mourning the death of his pet boxer, Winston Churchill, after an aggressive tumor took his life. He felt he was ready to love again, and wanted a pet that he could connect too.


“I saw Emma, my pitbull mix, and fell in love, “ he wrote via email. “She had been in foster care for 9 months because nobody wanted her: because she was black and a pit bull. She was such a sweet girl and I knew that she deserved a chance to be in a forever home where she would be loved.”

This was Sonders first time owning a pit bull and straight away he noticed a difference.. from other people.“People scowled at me on the street, one lady screamed and ran away despite Emma’s perfect behavior. I learned something had to be done to change the negative stigmas.”

To help change the negative perception of pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds, Sonders created the “Not a Bully” campaign.

This campaign uses Sonders skill as a photographer to show pit bulls in a very different light. Forget those images of slavering jaws and crying toddlers, he shows the dogs as they are, removed from negative stereotypes.

“The goal of Not A Bully is to share the stories of inspiring Pit Bulls that have been through the worst (abuse, dog fighting, bait dogs, etc) and still serve the community in a positive way. We want to show that even in the worst circumstances, these dogs are capable of living wonderfully positive and inspiring lives with the love and care of a responsible owner,” Sonders said. Read more…



Stupid Technology That You Don’t Want or Need: Instagram sunglasses and a GIF taking camera

Posted by admin on May 20, 2014 in geekery, lists, opinion, technology


The world is full of great and amazing inventions, things that wow the mind and blow the senses. And then come the not so amazing, those that give pause, make one think ‘eh, and simply seem like a wonderful way to blow a lot of resources. That’s what I’m celebrating now, the many odd and surreal parts of technology that we really *might* have been better off without.

The Ten Lens

What is it: Think of these as Instagram sunglasses, shades that let you see the world through a variety of rose colored filters.

Why: Why let real life get you down? Why not view it all through pretty tinted lenses, that makes everything slightly saccharine and glowy? Who needs to reminisce over old times when every day has an old-timey feel. Yes, this is basically exactly what actual tinted sunglasses do, but these are “Tens Lens” sunglasses so it’s totally different. Seriously, the creators say that, “Whilst typical sunglasses block out the light with desaturated, cold colors; Tens work with the warmth of the sun to lend an uplifting tint to the world beyond the lens.” Absolutely not the same thing (insert eye-roll).

And that’s why you should pay 60 bucks for them through their Indiegogo campaign, instead of ten dollars at H&M for a pair you lose the same day.

Otto Camera Takes Only Gifs, really

Otto, the camera that takes only GIFS

What is it: This is a camera built with Raspberry Pi that can capture GIF’s – not pictures. Yes, you can GIF away with a snap and a crank and be ready for Meme heaven.

Why? You love Gifs. I love Gifs.The world loves Gifs. We crack up over Gifs all the timer- heck GIFs are continually one of the most popular and growing subreddits on Reddit, the internet purveyor of what’s cool for the modern disenfranchised moody hipster. Why should you have to painstakingly create a GIF in Photoshop or manually DIY it with one of the zillion free GIF makers out there? What a drag! Why not capture a GIF in one go with a camera that’s designed for your needs?

The Otto camera features a rotating crank that captures an insta-GIF, not an instaPic and shares it with your cellphone.. so you can share it with the world. Now that’s good symbiosis, right? The camera is adaptable as the creators have built in capabilities for add on accessories, including a an Arduino-powered flash bulb that can be triggered to capture GIFs when it detects certain actions, for example they say it can “trigger the camera [for actions] like a totally badass high-five.” I mean you could just use a GIF making app on your phone, but then you’d totally lose camera carrying “cool” credentials right? Read more…

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