An example of sexism in print media
- the Toronto Star

by Anna

At first, it looks like the typical kind of CBC poking story that is already way too prevalent in Canada. But this story has an additional twist - it goes out of its way to identify a woman as part of what should be axed at the national broadcaster.

The headline in the print version of the Toronto Star, 27 May 2014: How to Fix the CBC: fire the Dragons, tells its own story, and the accompanying picture supports it - an image of Arlene Dickinson, with the caption "More than 12 per cent of voters in an online poll said they would get rid of CBC's Dragon's Den, which features Arlene Dickinson."

What first drew my attention was the 12% - why is the Star making a big deal out of a measly 12% of anything?

But then, in reading on, I learned that in fact, that was only the 3rd most popular recommendation - yet it made the headlines.

All the percentages of "recommendations" are low, and don't really qualify as news, in my opinion.

But, here's what is really revealing...

The highest score, 23% (almost double the Dragon's Den vote) chose to get rid of Steven and Chris - a design show hosted by two men.

The 2nd highest score, 20%, (still considerably more than Dragon's Den) chose to get rid of Mr D - another show headlined by a male star.

Dragon's Den, with only 182 people voting was 3rd - yet that is what drove the print headline, an image, and billing on the front page of the Life section.

But, as anyone who watches Dragon's Den knows, the shows highlights 5 "dragons" - rich entrepreneurs - and only 1 of the 5 is female.

And yet, despite all of that, the headline and the image only focus on the 3rd place show, and the only female in the lot.

All this for what is questionably a non-story to begin with, and yet manages to make the front page of the Life Section, and a colour image to boot.

Given that most people only take in the headlines and the images, it says a lot about the bias of The Toronto Star.

And it is a perfect example of what sexism in media looks like.

But here is what is also interesting...

The online version of the same story is different. (and I only checked it after I'd sent off a letter to the editor)...

In the online version, the title is non sexist, but still focuses on the 3rd choice Dragon's Den. And while the image does show all 5 dragons, Arlene Dickinson does stand out in the middle.

And The Star repeats its bizarre poll, where the CBC's most popular shows are listed, with the invitation,
"If you had to eliminate two CBC shows from the schedule, which would you choose?"


Can you imagine this setup for any other broadcaster?

This type of setup seems to fall right into the current mantra of cutting popular programs as the only possible answer to any and all financial problems.

But that's another story...

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