The Gender Gap in News Interest

Feb 06, 2008

A look at the public's news interests over the past year shows continuing differences between women and men in the types of news stories that they follow very closely. Women consistently express more interest than men in stories about weather, health and safety, natural disasters and tabloid news. Men are more interested than women in stories about international affairs, Washington news and sports.

At the same time, men and women often express comparable levels of interest in the top news stories of the day. For example, the presidential campaign has attracted only modestly greater interest among men than among women. In five weekly news interest surveys in 2008, 37% of men and 32% of women say they have followed campaign news very closely.

Yet there are substantial gender differences in news about several subjects. Weather news was of particular interest to women: in 2007, 37% of women, on average, followed weather-related stories very closely compared with 29% of men. The largest gender difference in interest in any news story last year was for the tornadoes and violent storms that hit the South and Midwest in March. Four-in-ten women followed this story very closely compared with only 25% of men. Floods in the Midwest in August also attracted a much larger female audience -- 32% of women compared with 20% of men followed this story very closely.

Women also expressed a particular interest in health and safety issues this past year. One of the biggest gaps was on news about a drug-resistant staph infection. Driven largely by interest among women, news of the staph infection was the public's most closely followed story the week of Oct. 14. More than three-in-ten women (31%) followed this story very closely compared with 21% of men.

Read the full report Where Men and Women Differ in Following the News on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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