Ringier’s EqualVoice initiative drives gender equality in content coverage

By Dr. Annabella Bassler

Ringier AG / EqualVoice-Factor - Gender Equality

Zürich, Switzerland

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Eight out of 10 media reports worldwide deal with men. Two out of 10 focus on women. The situation in Switzerland is nearly the same: Three out of four media reports deal with men. These figures are taken from the supplementary report to the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) from 2016. Research continues to show a gender content gap.

These results lead to the questions: Are there simply too few women worth reporting about? Or do men provide the better stories? There is a consensus that the answer is a clear “no.”

Ringier's EqualVoice initiative was designed to address the gender gap in news coverage.
Ringier's EqualVoice initiative was designed to address the gender gap in news coverage.

As one of the largest multi-national media corporations in Switzerland, we see it as our responsibility to increase our efforts to gain equal media coverage of women and men. We are convinced that men and women can achieve more together than men or women by themselves. Furthermore, we know there are many worthy women-centered stories to tell.

Goals of and leadership behind the initiative

We want to use our media publications and our reach of 4.5 million+ people per month in Switzerland to promote gender equality and contribute to the positive change.

Therefore, the Ringier EqualVoice initiative was officially launched in 2019 with these goals:

  • Equal representation of women and men in the media. 
  • Overcome gender stereotypes and portray men and women in non-traditional professional role models.
  • New journalistic perspectives for reporting on women and creating strong female role models.
  • Qualitative and quantitative measures to analyse the coverage of men and women in the media.

The EqualVoice initiative was initiated by Ringier CFO Annabella Bassler together with the EqualVoice core team, consisting of Katia Murmann (editor-in-chief of Blick Digital), Nina Ranke (head of business media), and Sabina Hanselmann-Diethelm (editor-in-chief of Bolero/Style). The EqualVoice initiative is chaired by Publisher Michael Ringier and CEO Marc Walder, and supported by all chief editors, employees, and members of the Ringier Group Executive Board.

In addition, a top-class advisory board has been deployed: Simona Scarpaleggia (IKEA), David Allemann (On), Nicole Burth (Adecco), Ingrid Deltenre (Media Manager), Christiane zu Salm (Media Entrepreneur), Franziska Tschudi Sauber (Weidmann Holding AG), Tanja Grandits (Star Chef), Carolina Müller-Möhl (Müller-Möhl Foundation), and Dr. Sabine Keller-Busse (UBS). 

Creating a metric for coverage

The quantitative analysis on media coverage of women and men in our publications is one of the main goals of the EqualVoice initiative. Therefore, the EqualVoice-factor was established as one of the first actions, acting as a quantitative metric indicating the coverage of men and women on all Ringier and Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland’s Web sites. 

The INMA-Award-winning Ringier data tool Sherlock, with its newly built features, analyses the number of articles on women and on men, as well as articles on gender equality published in our media. Amazon Rekognition automatically detects and analyses the people depicted on the Web sites.

Daily dashboards of Ringier and RASCH journalists showing the current level of both EqualVoice scores in comparison to the scores of the previous month.
Daily dashboards of Ringier and RASCH journalists showing the current level of both EqualVoice scores in comparison to the scores of the previous month.

This analysis results in two EqualVoice scores:

  • The teaser-score, consisting of image, headline, and lead. It tells us: How visible are women on our pages?
  • The body-score, which refers to the body of the article. It identifies the female proportion of quoted material in all publications.

The EqualVoice-factor is represented on the daily dashboards of Ringier and RASCH journalists. The dashboards show the current level of both EqualVoice scores in comparison with the scores of the previous month.

The increased gender equality awareness in our media, induced by the EqualVoice-factor, already led to first achievements such as an increase of 6% in the teaser-score at Handelszeitung or the Blick body-score extension up to 31% by end of December 2019.

The access to objective data on the coverage of women and men in the media supports Ringier in analysing its efforts on gender equality. We no longer need to rely on subjective perception of equality and inequality. The EqualVoice-factor provides the editorial offices with a database for the development and implementation of measures on gender equality.

The daily representation of the EqualVoice-factor on the journalists’ dashboards supports the editorial teams in an equal gender coverage. Ringier shares the evaluations and key indicators of the EqualVoice-factor with its employees regularly. Additionally, the EqualVoice-scores will be published in the annual report 2020 of Ringier AG.

And it goes on: In the current year, online channels will be set up in all titles, and a special magazine and a series of events on equality issues will be launched. A groupwide list of female experts is currently being developed. A nationwide call for a photo challenge is being launched to depict the reality of women and men in the world of work to enhance image databases with more photos of female and male role models.

Gender equality is not only a journalistic challenge. The equal representation of women and men is a global issue and one of the main priorities at Ringier for the upcoming years.

About Dr. Annabella Bassler

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