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Spotlight on Scottish Media: who makes the news?

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance

In March 2018, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Jenny Lester blogged about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland. Read blogs one, two and three.

In 57 articles about rape, domestic abuse, violence, and murder, only 7 were written by a named woman. This was one of the more disappointing findings from the media monitoring project I have undertaken for Zero Tolerance.

It is difficult to be exact when reporting the amount of stories that were written by women, as many newspapers run stories with no name attributed to them. However, even when those are taken in to consideration, the results are concerning. Only 12.7% of the stories were written by women, with 54.4% being written by men (the further 12.3% having no specified author). 6 of the 9 papers had absolutely no stories about violence against women written by named women - the Scottish Sun, the Times, The Scotsman, the Herald, and the Daily Express. Only 2 papers - The Daily Mail and the Guardian - achieved gender equity with a 50/50 split of gender of authors of stories of violence against women. (See below for full statistics).

It is difficult to achieve gender parity of story authorship without gender parity of staff. Last year Engender reported that, in Scotland, 0% editors of major newspapers are women, and only 8.3% of political editors at major newspapers are women. (Read more: Sex & Power in Scotland 2017) Women’s representation in newsrooms inevitably affects women’s representation in the news. The lack of women authors in these stories could go some way to explaining the poor reporting covered in these blogs. Women are stereotyped, demonised, blamed, and not trusted by the narratives presented. Their experiences are being explained and framed from a male perspective, and the representation we currently see is disempowering and problematic. We need women journalists and editors covering stories of violence against women to properly counteract this.


  1. Support women
  2. Hire women
  3. Promote women
Paper Number of stories By men By women Not specified Total
The Scottish Sun 8 5 0 3 0.0%
Scottish Daily Mirror 14 7 2 5 14.3%
The Scottish Times 9 8 0 1 0.0%
Scottish Daily Mail 6 1 3 2 50.0%
The Scotsman 4 3 0 1 0.0%
The Scottish Herald 4 1 0 3 0.0%
The Scottish Daily Express 3 2 0 1 0.0%
The Scottish Telegraph 5 2 0 3 0.0%
Guardian 4 2 2 0 50.0%
Total 57 31 7 19 12.7%

For full recommendations on how to write about Violence Against Women see our guidelines.


If you have been affected by any of these issues please get in touch:

Rape Crisis Scotland – 08088 01 03 02

Rape Crisis Scotland provides a national rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened.

Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline – 0800 027 1234

Scottish Women’s Aid runs a helpline, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which supports anyone with experience of domestic abuse or forced marriage, as well as their family members, friends, colleagues and professionals who support them.
This post first appeared on Zero Tolerance's blog.

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