Going on the Record: Gendered Experiences of Media Engagement

Going on the record cover page
Author/editor: Shine, K, Fisher, A, Mikołajczak, G, Ryan, M, Monteith, E
Publisher: Curtin University & Global Institute for Women's Leadership, ANU
Year published: 2023


In the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we will likely see and hear plenty of women’s perspectives in the news. But that will be an exception, rather than the norm.

Research from around the world, including Australia, has consistently shown that news coverage is dominated by the voices of men. About 70% of people quoted, heard, and seen in the news are men.

Some argue this is because women are less willing to do media interviews than men, but we don’t really know. There is very little research about the attitudes of ‘sources’ or ‘talents’ who are approached by journalists to provide news interviews.

This project is a first step to fill this gap and give us a better understanding of the motivations and barriers that influence women’s and men’s media engagement.

We surveyed more than 200 Australian adults. Some were subject experts. Others were spokespeople for organisations or communities. We asked them about their willingness to speak to the news media and what may influence that decision. We also asked open-ended questions about what makes for a positive or negative interview.

At a time when journalists are facing backlash for what is perceived as aggressive interviewing techniques and so-called ‘gotcha questions’, this kind of rare feedback about the interview experience is particularly valuable.

The findings we outline here are generally encouraging, both for journalists and those who go ‘on the record’ with the news media, or who have the potential to do so.

Significantly, and in line with other research, our findings suggest that the interview experience, overall, is positive. But there are certain common factors that can put people off or act as barriers to engagement.

From this feedback, we outline approaches and strategies which are likely to encourage prospective sources – women and men – to agree to an interview request and provide guidance about best practice in interviewing.

This research refutes the argument that women are less likely than men to agree to an interview request, but it does highlight some notable gender differences in experiences and attitudes.

Updated:  1 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications