Four years ago, in advance of the UN’s 2020 Generation Equality Forum, AKAS was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to investigate the gender diversity of leadership, experts and story protagonists in news. The project encompassed countries from the global north (the UK and US) and south (India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa), covering 25% of the world’s population, and resulted in the multi-award-winning Missing Perspectives of Women in News/COVID-19 News report series.
Re-commissioned by Miguel Castro and Iris Mwanza, this third solutions-orientated project in the series focused on providing solutions to two long-standing challenges that women face in the news industry. The specific objectives that the project addressed successfully were:
In addition, this project aimed to:
The multi-methodological research generated global insights and solutions, specific insights for the six target countries as well as for Bulgaria, Canada and Norway.
To understand how to mitigate the persistent diversity and inclusion challenges facing the news industry globally and identify potential solutions, we designed a multi-dimensional methodology. This involved quantitative, qualitative, market intelligence, and hybrid techniques, including:
Key novel insights
Through this, we developed some groundbreaking insights not previously evidenced:
Bringing the project to life
The Guardian described the work as “unprecedented analysis of newsrooms and news stories”. Given the dearth of research globally on women’s editorial representation/cultural exclusion from news, the report enjoyed widespread coverage and recognition, not only filling this gap with the most extensive multi-method research on the topic to date, but also highlighting the human-interest dimension, attracting readers by humanising the evidence.
To pique the interest of the target audience of senior editors and news industry change-makers, we communicated the insights through 14 launch sessions and high-profile journalism events including at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia and the FT/Google News conference in London. We presented the findings at events organised by the International Center for Journalists, The Gender Beat, and to Internews’ network of partnering news organisations. The high engagement achieved was also aided by concerted communication efforts including emailing 1000+ news editors and other key stakeholders about the report.
Extensive coverage and exposure of FOTO have contributed directly to the principal objective of supporting the journalism industry by raising awareness of ways to unlock women’s stalled progress throughout the news cycle.
Effective communication of findings: The report has commanded widespread attention across the six countries of interest and beyond. Its insights and proposed solutions were communicated through 14 launch sessions and high-profile journalism events including at the International Journalism Festival, the FT/Google News in the Digital Age conference, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the International Center for Journalists/Dow Jones.
Outcomes: FOTO’s content has achieved 5.6m social media impressions, 803K social media reach, 3.4K unique visitors and has been read across 200 countries. 285 websites linked to the report’s website and major news providers, such as the Guardian, El Pais and The Conversation covered the report’s findings.
Engagement with report: Engagement with the report has been 12.5 times higher than with other content on the Internews website (25 minutes vs. 2 minutes), a testament to the report’s strong human-interest dimension and solutions focus.
Industry impact: 7 of the 10 most influential global news brands have already engaged with the report, indicating unusually high impact among key industry players. The report featured case studies and editor interviews from the BBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Guardian. Since publication we have delivered sessions for BBC News and CNN while Msn.com has published multiple articles on the report’s findings.