Irish men more likely to comment on news stories than Irish women, research shows

New BAI survey also finds that Irish women have higher general level of trust in the news

Irish women are more likely than Irish men to share news stories, but Irish men are more likely to comment on stories, according to new research by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Research examining the role of gender and diversity in media consumption in Ireland was published by the BAI on Thursday.

It found that Irish men continue to be more likely to comment on news stories. The research showed a 4 per cent difference between the proportion of Irish men and the proportion of Irish women who commented in this regard in 2021.

The research also found that, generally, both Irish men (66 per cent of Irish men) and Irish women (62 per cent of Irish women) think there is “about the right amount” of news coverage of their gender.

However, more Irish men (13 per cent of Irish men) believe there is “too much” coverage of their gender in news coverage. Only 6 per cent of Irish women believe there is “too much” coverage of their gender.

More Irish women (18 per cent) felt there was “not enough” news coverage of their gender, compared with the proportion of Irish men who felt this way (12 per cent).

Attitudes abroad

The research also compared attitudes towards news and social media in the Republic and abroad. It showed that slightly more women (55 per cent) than men (52 per cent) in the State strongly agreed or tended to agree that they can trust most of the news most of the time.

Compared with women in Austria, the UK and Greece, Irish women have higher levels of trust in the news most of the time, while Danish women had the highest such trust in the news among women in the five regions, at 59 per cent.

Education level also played a role in trust in news material on social media. Those who had low education levels (ie did not finish secondary school) were more likely to trust news material they see on social media, compared with those with high or medium education, who appeared to be more sceptical.

While high-income earners continued to be “extremely” or “very interested” in news in 2021, the gap with the proportion of low-income earners registering such interest levels is closing. In 2020, there was a 25 per cent difference between the two income groups in this regard, compared with 14 per cent in 2021.

The Republic and the UK had the highest levels of concern for what is real and what is fake on the internet when it comes to online news when compared with Austria, Greece and Denmark. More than two-thirds of women (and almost as many men) in the Republic had concerns in relation to the accuracy of the content they're seeing online.

‘Create awareness’

DCU assistant professor and former Irish Times journalist Dr Dawn Wheatley, who led the research, said she hoped the project would help to create awareness among news providers about how news and current affairs are consumed differently by men and women, and by people from different backgrounds, and that the research will help those providers to tailor their news offerings to widen interest.

“This in turn will facilitate democratic debate and active citizenship,” Dr Wheatley said.

BAI chief executive Celene Craig said the analysis was commissioned “not just to provide additional insights to the BAI, but also to stimulate further debate around news consumption and different aspects of diversity, such as gender and socioeconomic class”.