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Issue #1   May 2019

Something new

Data@MediaHack is a new monthly newsletter that dives into the data behind the issues of the day. This being our first-ever edition, we're sharing it with a select group of people we think will find data-driven storytelling interesting. We’ll be sending the newsletter out on the first Monday of each month. If data isn’t your thing and you don’t want to receive future issues, we understand. You can unsubscribe by clicking the link in the footer of this email and we won't bother you again.

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Laura & Alastair

Where are women's voices in election coverage? 

Just over half of South Africa’s population is female, yet you wouldn’t think so looking at the media. With the elections drawing near, Media Hack took a look at how much women actually feature in stories related to the elections and politics.

More detail on the research is posted below the infographic.
Click on the image below for a hi-res version of the graphic.

Digging into the data

We collected links to 4,722 stories published on the RSS feeds of three of the five biggest news websites in the country – News24, TimesLive and EWN – between March 21 and April 10. 

We extracted stories that contained variations of the words election/s and politics/political/politician, then made a list of the people mentioned in those stories, and whether they were men or women. If we couldn’t find out whether a person was male or female from a Google search, we listed them as “unknown”. This is what we found.

TimesLive featured the most women in their elections and politics stories – just under three in every 10 people mentioned was a woman – but in EWN and News24 stories, less than two in every 10 people mentioned were women.

If you combine the stories of all three websites, women make up 21% of the people mentioned – that means four out of every five people mentioned are men.  

The irony is that even though women are underrepresented in election and politics stories, more of them are likely to make the effort to vote on election day. 

In the 2014 elections, “of all people who voted, 57% were women and 43% men,” wrote Amanda Gouws, Collette Schulz-Herzenberg and Cindy Lee Steenekamp of Stellenbosch University in the Mail & Guardian in November. 

“Given the proportionately higher levels of registration for 2019, we can expect a similar pattern next year,” they added. At the time, 14.3-million women had registered to vote compared with 11.7-million men.

The media clearly needs to make an effort to increase the number of women included in the stories they publish.

“You’d think that our country has a serious lack of women thought-leaders, change agents, and political commentators, but that’s not true,” says Kathy Magrobi, the founder of non-profit initiative Quote This Woman+

“Articulate, intelligent and quotable election-related opinions from women exist in droves, but what women have to say isn’t making the news because of journalists’ conscious and unconscious views about where women fit in society,” she says.

Quote This Woman+ is building an ever-growing database of female experts on a range of subjects to make it easier for journalists to include the voices of women in their stories. 

The trends shown in the sample of stories in Media Hack’s analysis indicate a slight improvement on how it is believed the media used women’s voices in the 2016 municipal elections, says Magrobi. “But this rate of change is too slow.” 

The full results of the research are available in the table below. 

If you got this far, thank you for reading the first edition of this newsletter. 

If you have any comments, suggestions or criticisms please let us know by emailing us on We'd love to hear from you.

Media Hack and Quote This Woman+ are both part of the JamLab Accelerator Programme for media tech start-ups.
Copyright © 2019 Media Hack Collective, All rights reserved.

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