Media FT Gender Equality

FT editorial bot flags articles devoid of female input in gender equality drive


By John Glenday | Reporter

November 15, 2018 | 3 min read

The Financial Times has unleashed an editorial bot designed to ensure journalists reduce their reliance on male experts for comments, amid fears the newspaper is unconsciously reinforcing a gender divide.

Financial Times

FT editorial bot flags male-dominated articles in gender equality drive

Bosses were spurred into action following revelations that just 21% of people quoted in the paper were women, spurring the development of an automated tool to scan text for tell-tale pronouns and first names which might give away the gender balance.

Editors will subsequently be alerted to any journalists who are failing to promote an equivalent number of female voices in their articles although in future the system could be expanded to provide real-time feedback as stories are being written.

The FT is embarking on a charm offensive to lure more women to the title by using more photographs of women to illustrate content, following research which found female readers were more likely to click through on articles depicting women than men.

Explaining the new policy in a staff email deputy editor Roula Khalaf said: “Desks that use quotes from a high proportion of women also feature more women in their pictures, and their articles are well read by women.

“The opinion desk is tracking not only the gender of contributors, but also their ethnicity and geographical location, as part of an effort to commission more female voices, more minority voices in western countries and more local voices elsewhere.”

A two-pronged approach to improving diversity has already seen the FT increase its proportion of female opinion writers from 20 to 30%.

Women are well represented in sectors such as the NHS, immigration and EU tech regulation but are less prominent in male-dominated industries such as the oil industry and banking.

The FT has produced its own audience tool map to help clients better understand their readers.

Media FT Gender Equality

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The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community.

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