What Am I Worth as A Woman in Colorado News? – News Salience Analysis

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Colorado Women News Equity Advocacy
Colorado Women News Equity Advocacy

INTRODUCTION

Naturally, society has the cognitive tendency of tilting attention towards news, issues, information, and events based on how the media attaches salience to them. The media’s editorial process of sieving news content through a hierarchy of importance and less importance subsequently leads to certain news and attributes becoming more prominent than the other based on the media’s agenda. It must however be fairly said that the media’s editorial decisions of news selections and saliency is not necessarily with a journalistic premeditated intent but by the determinants of complex editorial, organizational, economic, cultural and political influences. Notwithstanding, the media has the power to organise and structure society’s mental state towards issues and categories it considers more salience than the other.

What then is news salience? Simply, news salience is how media construct news reality by assigning a degree of external and internal visibility to a news object (news object such as – issues, personality, event, information, place or space). A media’s salience mechanism is therefore meant to attach a sense of attention, action, awareness to a news object by either emphasizing or deemphasizing its saliency in a news agenda. Furthermore, news salience is also about how the media constructs salience related attributes by infusing positive and negative tones to a news object in order to achieve an intended call on society and policy action or reaction. It is against these backdrops of news salience that this study is develop as a way of measuring Colorado women’s news salience in the following contexts: 1. What type of news object constitute Colorado women’s news in terms of attention and prominence.  2. What type of news salience attributes is associated with Colorado women’s news objects in terms of positive and negative tones. It is believed that this study results will attempt to find answers to the rhetoric; What Am I Worth as A Woman in Colorado News? – News Salience Analysis

Women In Colorado

 Colorado State women deserve a commendable attention! These women led women suffrage rights in the USA. For instance, efforts made by women in Colorado towards women suffrage rights dates as far back as 1848, a cause championed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott contributed to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

In spite of this tremendous achievement by Colorado women, shades of women inequality   in political representation, unequal distribution of household labor, gender pay gap, gender inequality in graduate schools, gender inequality at elite institutions, gender inequality in faculty still exists within the USA. 

Specifically in Colorado state, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF), women in Colorado “receive 84 cents for every dollar paid to a man” making Colorado the sixth smallest wage in the USA which subsequently poses a challenge to women in meeting up with food, child care, college tuition, birth control and other related health care needs.

In addition, according to Quote Wizard study on Denver (KDVR/9/2/2021), “female drivers in Colorado pay on average $77 more to insure their vehicles each year than male drivers”.

Positively, the U.S. government is committed to improve women equitable rights as revealed in the U.S. Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017 congressional report affirms that “The world is more peaceful, safe, and prosperous when the human rights of women are respected and can fully participate in economic, social, and political life”.  The WPS report further stated that the success of WPS initiatives depends on an “implementation through monitoring, evaluation, and learning exercises and strengthened engagement with key partners, such as civil society leaders”.  This study is further spurred as an evaluation and monitoring of how Colorado media as a civil society agent helps in the promotion of Colorado women’s inequality campaign as the study results below revealed in: Colorado Women News Salient Topics: 2017 – 2022 News Salience Analysis. 

Colorado Women News Equity Advocacy

In an analysis of 98 news headlines from 31 US online news portals from January 2017 to December 2021, it may be said that the media hasn’t been equitable towards issues affecting women in Colorado. Existing data from the GMMP-2020 report revealed alarmingly it will take about 67 years for the world to close in on the average gender equality gap in traditional media coverage on women related news topics. According to the report, United States of America has gone beyond the critical 30% threshold in the coverage of women across all forms of media.  

Although the US media coverage may be encouraging from the GMMP-30% perspective, more needs to be done as this study results suggest. For instance, critical Colorado women issues such as pay gap inequality and vehicle insurance payment inequalities were not covered by the media.  Women salient news topics or news objects associated with Colorado women were in the category of: murder, rape, sexual harassment, deaths, missing persons, accidents, crimes, homelessness   with sports as the most salient news topic. Besides the sports, politics and corporate leadership news topics connoting positive tone attributes, over 50% of the news objects about Colorado women were associated with negative attributes translating to negative salience tones.  Hence the question what am I worth as Woman in Colorado news?

Perhaps, this explains why Colorado women seeks to find out their worth as women in Colorado news coverage.  Certainly, Colorado women are worth more than the seemingly negative tones. Data for this study was extracted using google custom-date sorting with the specific time scope and news category units. The study used content analysis methodology with intercoder reliability at 85%. This study was hindered by subscription access hence it was only limited to an available online news headline, other studies may extend it to cover media platforms.  

From an advocacy perspective, this article is not a critique on the media but an attempt to bring the issue of Colorado women to the attention. Certainly, this study acknowledge that editorial decisions are influenced by economic, market and content hierarchy issues. All the same, US media is encouraged to be more sensitive to the plight of Colorado women and issues affecting Colorado women in its news headlines. On the other hand, advocacy groups could enter into strategic media relations with the US media to promote women needs. 

Also, advocacy initiatives should be linked to consistent scientific media monitoring in order to generate standard measurement for media’s advocacy role as a force for social change in women inequality challenges. 

In all, the US media should use its headlines to build and promote women-issues knowledge, create sense of urgency towards women needs and generate conversation around Colorado women related issues. 

This form of reportage on the part of US media will help embrace the United States government’s Women, Peace, And Security congressional position that “The world is more peaceful, safe, and prosperous when the human rights of women are respected and they fully participate in economic, social, and political life

About the Author:   Messan Mawugbe (PhD) is a strategic corporate communication consultant and a lecturer.  From: The Meadows Castle Rock: Colorado.   Email: nekzy@yahoo.com

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