NYT Gender Bias–in Book Reviews and Beyond

A recent FAIR study (Extra!, 8/10) looked at politically themed books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review and the C-SPAN show After Words and concluded that both outlets heavily favored white male authors and reviewers. The Times came off particularly badly in the study, which revealed 95 percent of the U.S. authors reviewed, and 96 percent of the reviewers, were white.

As far as gender was concerned, women–who obviously make up roughly 50 percent of the population–accounted for just 13 percent of the authors and 12 percent of the critics.

Today, Slate weighed in on the New York Times Book Review‘s biases. Picking up on a controversy sparked by author Jodi Picoult‘s charges of gender bias at the review, Slate published a study showing that 62 percent of the the fiction book’s reviewed by the section were written by men, and the subset that were also reviewed in the daily paper were 71 percent male-authored.

Are New York Times book reviews a white male ghetto in an otherwise more diverse newspaper? Well, no. On gender, numerous byline studies have shown the paper heavily favoring male reporters, particularly on the front page. One such study conducted for FAIR (Extra!, 8/04) found that 88 percent of the Times front-page articles were written by men.

Now a new study has emerged showing that the Times runs more than six times as many obituaries on men as they do on women. According to the website NYTPicker (8/29/10),so far in 2010, 85 percent of the paper’s obituaries have been about men, with men’s obits out pacing women’s 606 to 92.

So the Times male bias prevails, even in death.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.