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Do women and men consume news differently?

Key findings from a RISJ report

Research has definitively shown that women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, from being more likely to lose a job to having to assume additional unpaid duties, to suffering from the surge in domestic violence.

To better understand how this trend shapes the way women interact with news, it’s important to understand what are the gender differences in news consumption in the first place. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published a report on women and news, based on surveys in 11 world countries. We picked four of the report’s key findings.

Interest in news: political news vs. health & education news

According to surveys in the countries covered by the report, men are more likely to say they are interested in news than women. For example, in Germany 72% of men and 63% of women say they are extremely or very interested in news. In most cases, the difference is around 10 percentage points.

Also, there’s a difference in the types of news consumed by different genders. Men are more likely to be interested in political news, while more women follow health & education news. (It remains an open question to what extent traditional gender stereotypes, men’s privilege to have time for following more abstract topics, and other potential factors all play a role in this differentiation).

Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, CC BY license

Sources of news: TV vs. social media

Although the role of TV in shaping news diets across the world has been declining, it’s still a big player. According to RISJ, women are more likely to use TV news programs for news consumption. The difference is notable (5% to 7%) in all three European countries surveyed in the report, namely Germany, Finland and the UK.

According to the report, “female respondents are slightly more likely to say that they come across news on social media in most markets.” Twitter and YouTube are more likely to be used for news consumption by men, while Facebook is an extremely important source of news for both genders.

Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, CC BY license

Misinformation and trust in news: no noteworthy difference 

Although there are differences in how men and women consume news, the level of trust in news is broadly similar. Out of the countries surveyed, only Finland showed a statistically significant difference, with women expressing more trust in news than men (60% vs. 52%).

Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, CC BY license

When it comes to concern over fakes and misleading information, there are no gender differences in the US, UK, and Germany. In Finland and a few non-European countries, women are noticeably more concerned with the issue, while Hong Kong is the only surveyed market where men express more concern than women.

More from The Fix: Can we trust (the news) again? 

Discussing news: publicly vs. face-to-face

It’s a general trend that relatively many people discuss news with friends, colleagues and relatives, while a smaller core of engaged readers take the time to comment on news stories online. However, there are some differences within this trajectory.

More men than women tend to comment on a news story on news sites. While the difference is not statistically significant in some countries (including all three European countries surveyed), it’s pronounced in some others, namely in the United States, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa.

Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, CC BY license

Conversely, women are more likely to discuss news face-to-face with friends and colleagues. It’s the case in Finland and multiple non-European countries, although there’s no considerable difference in the UK and Germany.

Download the report (pdf)

More from The Fix: Prune Antoine: “We have chosen to re-empower the audience, focusing on women” / Ida Herskind: Denmark’s media #MeToo conversation focused on women 

Photo from Pexels

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