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What Australia's Front Pages Would Look Like Without Men

Women make up just 24 percent of what is heard, read, or seen in the news.

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May 10 2018, 1:04am

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As the media landscape continues to change, one thing seems to remain stale and stagnant: the amount of space dominated by men as the actual subjects of news stories. This is especially apparent when it comes Australia’s mainstream papers, where stories featuring women appear to be few and far between.

Cue Front Pages Without Males, the Instagram page showing what the front (digital) pages of Australia’s media look like after erasing stories about men. The account, created by Melbourne-based cultural researcher Amanda Thompson, includes major media outlets such as The Guardian, The Age, and the ABC.

In each post, Thompson presents three versions of the front page in question. First, the page as it would appear if only stories specifically about women were left; secondly, the page as it would appear if only stories not exclusively about men were left (these tended to be stories that weren't about people at all—for instance, articles about the Hawaii volcano, or Safe Schools); and finally, the front page unedited.

“I started the account as a way to vent the lack of news stories about women, and in a broader sense a lack of consistent diversity in mainstream media,” Thompson tells VICE. “I don't work in the media, but it's a frustration coming from a consumer.”

The account was inspired by @lineupswithoutmales, which provided confronting images of near-bare festival posters after non-male acts were removed, and whose owners more than happy for Thompson to adopt their template.

According to the most recent data collected by The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), women make up 24 percent of what is heard, read, or seen in the news. The GMMP also points out that when women do appear in news stories, they fall into stereotypical categories and are often portrayed as a victim, survivor, or identified by their family status.

Who's in the news is also worth looking at in light of who writes the news. In the 2016 Women in Media Report, which surveyed 6,000 articles across six major Australian newspapers, found that women account for just 21 percent of sources quoted in news articles. The report also showed that women writers only accounted for 17 percent of comment pieces in the general news, business, and finance sections. Similarly, in the “opinion” sections, only 29 percent of the bylines were women.

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Before she created her new Instagram page, Thompson had written to news organisations asking how they select their stock images, being that they are predominantly images of white men or heterosexual couples. She received no response. “Representation matters," she says, "and as a consumer of these news sites in 2018, I kind of expect more."

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