Spotlight on Scottish Media: who makes the news?

This March, our intern Jenny is blogging 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 her first, second and third blog in the series.

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. From week beginning the 29th of January I bought nine major newspapers (the Scottish Sun, Scottish Daily Mirror, the Scottish Times, Scottish Daily Mail, the Scotsman, the Scottish Herald, the Scottish Daily Express, the Scottish Telegraph, the Guardian) to analyse the coverage of violence against women in the Scottish press. I’ve split the findings into four blogs; the first one discusses the what the stories were about - a quantitative analysis of the content of the 59 stories. The second is about the language used in the stories. The third covers whose side the stories were on. And this fourth and final blog is about the breakdown of the gender of the author of the stories.

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.

Have you written or read a story that is an example of good practice in reporting Violence Against Women? Enter the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

More useful resources for journalists
  • National Union of Journalists Scotland: The National Union of Journalists is the voice for journalism and for journalists across the UK and Ireland working at home and abroad in all sectors of the media as freelances, casuals and staff in newspapers, news agencies, broadcasting, magazines, online, book publishing, in public relations, communications, and as photographers.
  • Women in Journalism Scotland: Women in Journalism Scotland represents women in Scotland at every stage of their careers, across print, broadcast, online and digital media and communications and PR work. WIJ Scotland is a non-party-affiliated campaigning, networking and training organisation.
  • The Second Source: The Second Source was created by a group of women journalists to tackle harassment in the media. It seeks to promote awareness of the problem, inform people of their rights, and work with organisations to create change. With the knowledge that much harassment relates to insecure work in an industry that remains male-dominated, it also acts as an alternative professional network for young women.

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.
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Related downloads

What journalists need to know about the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) BillWhat journalists need to know about the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill This briefing is for journalists who are reporting on what is now the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act.

Zero Tolerance's Media Guidelines on Violence Against Women and Girls for PrintZero Tolerance's Media Guidelines on Violence Against Women and Girls for Print Zero Tolerance's media guidelines on violence against women and girls are for journalists, editors, and other media professionals.