10 Sep PrimeTime Celebration!
WHO’S AT THE PRIMETIME TABLE?
New Study Finds Black Women Missing on Major Cable News Networks
Solution is for Black Women to Showcase PrimeTimers 55+
Black women have something to say. But if left to cable news networks, they’re likely to not be seen or heard during the primetime lineup. A new study reveals that Black women—especially older Black women—are sorely underrepresented as hosts, contributors and experts during the coveted primetime hours at the three major cable news networks – CNN, Fox and MSNBC.
Of the 1,867 appearances logged during the study review period, Black women 55 and older constituted an abysmal 28 appearances, reflecting 1.6% of the total lineup. Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that non-Black men dominated (67 percent across all programs). Older Black men totaled 75 appearances (4 percent), compared to older non-Black women’s 107 appearances (6 percent). Black women 54 and younger, also underrepresented, constituted 84 of all appearances.
“As a frequent viewer of primetime cable news, I was certain that women who looked like me were scarce, if not erased, from the nightly lineup,” says Gwen McKinney, creator of Unerased | Black Women Speak. “This seemed a perfect opportunity to backup observation with solid quantitative data.”
The study was conducted by Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) for the nonprofit public engagement initiative, Unerased Black Women Speak. The full study, to be released on September 14, examined nine programs Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. The quantitative snapshot zeroed in on age, race (Black and Non-Black) and gender from May 24 to June 30, a six-week review period including the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police and the inaugural Juneteenth federal holiday. The study findings defied the hunch that a heightened racial focus would necessarily generate commensurate expansion of Black appearances.
The cable news outlets skew toward older viewers and more women comprise MSNBC and CNN audiences, which both enjoy Black viewership larger than their percentage in the general population, 19 percent and 21 percent respectively.
This begs the question: Who’s at the primetime table?
Key findings during the review period:
MSNBC’s Joy Reid, 52, claims the distinction of being the only full-time Black host on any cable news primetime program. Her show The Reidout outdistanced all other primetime programs in showcasing Black commentators. During the six-week review of primetime cable coverage, nearly 43% of her guests were Black.
Even The Reidout fell down on showcasing older Black women. Among appearances of Black guests, approximately 60% were men and only 7% were Black women 55 +.
The Reidout’s appearances by Black commentators, won MSNBC the largest number of Black commentators (27.4%), compared to Fox (12.2%) and CNN (9.8%).
Overall, MSNBC boasted the largest number of appearances of Black women 55+ (4%), with The Rachel Maddow Show featuring the largest number of older Black women appearances (6%), compared to barely 1% by CNN and less than 1% by Fox, which featured a single Black woman 55 or older during the entire 6-week review period.
Black women and men of all ages were sorely underrepresented as hosts, contributors and guests on all three networks. A total of 8% for Black men and 6% for Black women, with Black men 55+, taking the lion’s share of appearances at 3.9%.
The study’s findings spurred a partnership between the Unerased initiative and the national advocacy organization the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) which supported a new directory, PrimeTime 55+, honoring older Black women.
“We are mature, tested and still in our prime as doers and change agents,” says Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation CEO and BWR convener. “I’m proud to showcase talent, tenacity and brilliance of celebrated and underacknowledged women included in the directory.”
For media inquiries or to receive a copy of the embargoed study before September 14, please contact Nicole Hayes at (202) 527-4106, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Unerased | Black Women Speak is a public engagement initiative committed to shaping narrative and creating content that tells the continuous and unfolding story of Black women. We embrace and share the power in our voice and vision, engaging Black women, our community, our allies and the world that affirms or challenges us.