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AJP Study Highlights Critical Lack of Diversity in Belgian Media

The Association des Journalistes Professionnels (AJP) has published findings from a new study, highlighting a critical diversity and equality gap in the Belgian French-language daily press. The research, presented on March 15, points to an overrepresentation of white, able-bodied, upper socio-professional men aged 35 to 64, calling for a broader representation of society in the media.

Key Insights from the Study:

  • Women account for just over 20% of speakers in the media, a figure that rises to 30.91% when excluding sports content.
  • The representation of diverse origins has declined from 33.03% in 2013-14 to 26.99% in 2022.
  • Visibility for disabled individuals is exceedingly low, at only 0.22%.
  • Both young and senior citizens are noticeably underrepresented, together accounting for less than 20% of subjects in the news.

On the other hand, the study notes an increase in the diversity of expert roles, from 6.25% in 2018 to 12.20% in 2022. Despite this, the overall socio-professional diversity in media remains narrow, dominated by upper socio-professional categories (54.12%) and intellectual professions (31.17%).

Sports journalism remains predominantly male-dominated,
with a ratio of nine men to every woman in newspaper columns

This comprehensive analysis was conducted over three days, examining six major daily newspapers, 1,323 articles, and 14,659 speakers based on gender, origin, age, socio-professional status, and disability status. Despite observing a modest uptick in women and older people’s representation, the research underscores a stagnation or decline in the diversity of origins and the visibility of disabled people in the media.

A particularly striking finding is the limited portrayal of women, who comprise a mere 20% of speakers in the news. This representation slightly improves when excluding sports-related articles, as sports journalism remains predominantly male-dominated, with a ratio of nine men to every woman in newspaper columns.

The study emphasizes the crucial need for diverse media representations to reflect society’s complexity and diversity, fostering understanding, empathy, and balanced public debate—cornerstones of a healthy democracy.

To combat the current gap, journalists are encouraged to broaden their source pool using platforms like AJP’s Expertalia.be, which is already part of the ENWE network database of diverse experts, introducing a wider range of voices and perspectives.

TThe study was supported by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and conducted by researchers Sabri Derinöz, Loubna Chkiri, Sarra El Massaoudi, and Nicolas Wathieu, with coordination and editing by Guylaine Germain (AJP) and illustrations by Chloé Streveler.

For more details, visit https://www.ajp.be/diversite/ 

ENWE – European Network for Women Excellence is an advocacy group committed to creating a network of European databases that offer an extensive selection of prestigious female profiles for interviews, conferences, and panels. Find out more about our network of partners here.

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