Oscars Still Dominated by Men

Despite recent efforts to improve diversity, new research shows how skewed the Academy has been over the past quarter of a century.


When actress Jennifer Lawrence spoke out after it was discovered that she was paid less than her male American Hustle co-stars, it sparked yet another soul search among Hollywood as to the continuous discrimination that has been prevalent throughout its existence.

In recent years, the Academy has made progress in addressing this woeful imbalance, yet female actors are still far less likely to take on a solo lead role in the big Oscar winning films. Over the past 25 years and 25 Best Picture winners. There has not been a single film in which there was a solo female lead. Brand new research shown in the infographic reveals that 18 of the past 25 Best Picture winners have had a solo male lead. When women have had a leading role, it is one they have had to share with a man.

This is not to say women cannot pull off truly amazing performances. Think Julianne Moore in 2014’s Still Alice, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress but that was the only nomination and award win for the film. Cinema is littered with amazing female roles in films that were either not nominated or did not win the top prize itself. On top of this, in 88 Academy Award ceremonies, only one female director has won the Oscar for directing. Kathryn Bigelow in 2013.

When these Oscar winning films brought individual success for the actors in them, even here, it was skewed in favour of men. The infographic shows only two leading ladies walked off with the top honour whilst 5 men received the male equivalent of Best Actor. And whilst there were 5 wins Best Supporting Actress vs 4 equivalent awards for mem, that only backs up the fact that women are not seen to be able to hold their own on the same scale as men.

The graphic above shows that from the 25 leading or co-leading male actors in the last 25 years’ worth of Best Picture winners, their average age stands at 42, with age ranges from 22 to 74. For women though that age gap is much narrower, albeit the average can only be taken from the seven women who were co-leads. It also shows that their average age is a full 10 years less than for men with the gap between the youngest (22) and the oldest (41) being substantially smaller.

What conclusion can we draw from this? Well, that Hollywood continues to have a reluctance to putting women in leading roles on their own. Consider the success when this has happened. For example, Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games. A massive franchise which revolved almost entirely around her. But this is still an exception. It’s maybe not surprising. Recent figures show that the members of the Academy who vote for the winners of the famous statues are 76% male as well as 94% white. This coupled with the scandalous “Oscar’s So White” scandal led Academy president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs to pledge to double the number of women and ethnic minorities by 2020.

Rusbridger: Why Twitter matters for media organisations.

Then editor in chief for The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger laid out 15 points that he said Twitter did effectively.

  • Distribution – Good at spreading ideas, information and content, lots of the best tweets sent are links.
  • Things happen first on Twitter – Lots of news now breaks on Twitter and you’ll likely hear rumours first on Twitter.
  • Works as a search engine – Twitter harnesses the mass capabilities of human intelligence to find information that’s new, valuable, relevant or entertaining.
  • Aggregation tool – You can set you Twitter feed to search for any information and it will often give you the best available thus becoming your own personised news feed, following people removes the need to search for the information yourself.
  • Great reporting tool – Many top reporters use Twitter now. They can use it to request information or to find eye-witnesses to events.
  • Marketing – You can alert your followers to your posts, thus drive traffic and engagement. If people like it, they’ll retweet and it could “go viral”.
  • Common conversations – People interact like a normal conversation, they can respond, either agree or disagree or even denounce it and it’s an instant reaction.
  • Diversity – Traditional media often struggle to diversify the people involved, with Twitter, anyone can be involved.
  • It changes the tone of writing – Simply put, Twitter conversations are more personal than traditional media. They are also more humours helping to engage users.
  • Level playing field – Twitter energy gathers around those who speak crisply and entertainingly even if they are unknown personalities.
  • Different news values – Users often have different ideas of what is and isn’t news. Therefore, they can help sway newsrooms and editors if enough people are discussing something.
  • Long attentions span – If you set your feed to follow a keyword or issue, you can continue to receive information on it for a long time.
  • Creates communities – Communities form around particular issues, people, events etc. They are recognisable and can be long or short term, weak or strong.
  • Changes authority – Users will not wait to hear “expert opinions” on the news, people are much more likely to be drawn to people who are more like them.
  • Agents of change – Social media challenge conventional politics and the laws relating to expression and speech.

Tony Silvia, Terry Anzur: Power Performance – Multimedia Storytelling

The chapter started off referring back to the days when sales of newspapers were big business and how one of the main ways of distributing newspapers was street sales through “newsboys”. It was these “newsboys” who coined the now famous phrase “extra extra”. The phrase indicated that an extra edition of that paper had been published that day.


Silvia and Anzur then went on to state how the web is more than an extension of newspapers but actually a medium where parts of stories can be told that cannot be told in traditional print media.


The also stated a number of “essentials”. Things that the web can do a lot better than newspapers. The first was slideshows which are in essence, photo essays, because the web user can scroll through at their own pace, they become interactive.


Next was maps and graphics, these can also be interactive and the authors suggested that audiences show a predisposition towards wanting them in articles. This is often because they can be personalised towards each user’s needs.


Next was audio and visual clips. The authors suggested that people enjoy being able to control what they watch and listen to, something that cannot be done at all in newspapers which can only pick specific quotes and with TV news, you only get the soundbites of audio or visual clips, this means that often, quotes can be taken out of context. However, with online news, you can have the option to post the full interview and that in-turn allows the user to choose exactly what they see and hear.


Finally, online news can give links to other online resources. They talked about how we live in a “google culture” where we can find pretty much anything. However, it is our responsibility as journalists to make sure that we provide the reader with the most reliable information possible, thus eliminating the readers need for “second party searching”.


The authors finished by talking about how our viewing habits of news differs in each medium. For example, newspaper readers tend to read one story at a time but have the option of flicking from story to story on different pages. TV news is forced to be linear, you must watch a certain segment or number of segments before you get to the one you want to see. However, with online news, you can read any story and be multi-tasking at the same time.

Vin Ray: News Storytelling in a Digital Landscape

Vin Ray began by referring to a Times article that questioned whether the internet is killing storytelling. He balanced whether it indeed is killing storytelling or alternatively, whether the internet is liberating us from the formulaic structure of established media. 


He quoted Ben Macintyre who said that while the internet is extremely effective and communicating large quantities of information, it cannot and is not giving what it communicates an effective narrative. He then moved to an article by Ben Carr that seemed to give an explanation for this. Carr said that people’s attention spans are diminishing and the more we use the web the more we have to fight to stay reading longer pieces of writing. He described this as “narrative storytelling being washed aside by a tsunami of byte sized information.” 


Ray then gave reason to be optimistic about the future of long-form journalism. He talked of new start-up companies. One was Mediastorm who when posting their articles, do not restrain themselves in how long their articles are or how long their broadcasts are unlike traditional newspapers or TV news. Rather, they created their content to be as long as they believed necessary in order to create a good story.


Mark Armstrong, the founder of another start-up, Longread stated other key factors driving resurgence in long-form journalism, in addition to new technology like Ipads he described ‘social recommendation’, where people after reading something they like will share it with others leading to its own personal cheering squad. He also spoke of ‘timeshifting’. These can be apps that allow you to continue reading articles even when you are offline.


Ultimately Ray concluded, nothing can compare to good storytelling and the same fundamental concepts journalism has always used remain the key staples of effective journalistic storytelling.

King Summary: The Internet’s Transformation of Journalism

King started out by saying that the definition of what a journalist is and what journalism is has dramatically changed since new technology like the internet. Despite this it does not define the limits of journalism, merely plays a role in shaping it.


King pointed out how quickly the internet has changed how we view news, by 2009 it wasn’t considered unusual to view breaking news online. The Pew Trust reported that by 2008 more people were accessing news online than by newspapers. 


King said that there were 3 major long term trends appearing as a result of increased internet news. First, that online journalism has placed local daily newspapers under severe pressure despite the need for local news being as pressing as ever. Second, Established media are no longer the gatekeepers of news, rather they magnify news that often begins online. Finally, change is so quick, now blogs are considered established with new mediums like wikis and twitter emerging. 


King talked extensively about citizen journalists and pointed to the advantages and disadvantages and how they are now being utilised by established outlets. He said that nowadays, virtually anyone can post news which does mean news-gathering has proliferated, however, the distinction between professional news-gathering and amateur news-gathering is increasingly blurred. One of the main disadvantages is that of accuracy and credibility, the safeguards that often (but not always) protect professional news organisations does not exist with citizen journalists.

WordPress: In and Out

Since its introduction in 2003, WordPress has become the most easily accessible and wisely used Content Management System (CMS) in the world. An estimated 60 million websites have been created because of it.


This is primarily down to how easy it is to operate, you don’t need to have any knowledge of HTML coding in order to make any changes to your site. If you want to add or remove posts, pages, images or change the theme, you simply click on the button. From a business’s point of view as well as being quick and easy it a=is also cheap to build your very own website. Finally, large numbers of volunteers create their own themes and plugins which can then be used by other WordPress users.


Posts and Pages: What’s the difference?


One of the key differences between posts and pages is that pages are static one off type content. A classic example is the “about” page. Posts are content entries published in reverse chronological order therefore making them ideal for blogs. They also feature their own unique URL’s.


For example, if you had a news blog and wanted to divide it up into different types of news, you may have a page dedicated to politics and another to sport. In these pages you would have your posts, for example a series of posts about an upcoming election, or a number of football match reports. These posts would appear on the page with the one posted most recently appearing at the top of the page.


Categories and Tags: What’s the difference?


Categories are meant as a broad grouping of your posts. They help identify what your blog is really about. Because they are hierarchical, you can also create sub-categories. Tags on the other hand are far more specific to the details of your posts. They could be referred to as the “index” of your blog. It is necessary to categorise your posts, however adding tags is entirely optional.


For example, if your blog was about food, you may have categories, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert. When posting a recipe for chocolate brownie, that post would fall under the desert category but the tag you may want to create would be “chocolate”.

Brock summary

Brock – Out of print


In his book, Brock talked of 4 tasks journalism and journalists should perform.

  • Verification – Making sure doubt is eliminated
  • Sense making – Understanding the facts, to do so involves judgement which in turn involves risk. This could also be known as reporting, analysis, comment and opinion.
  • Witness – New technology may have eliminated vast quantities of blanket routine reporting. However, no matter what new technology is available there will always be times when you need experienced eye witnesses
  • Investigation – Some facts are not always available straight away, some may be hidden or difficult to access. In order to find out these hidden facts you need skill, experience and patience. This is a specialist skill that requires training.


When talking about Twitter, Brock mentioned how it becomes a “digital me”. You can filter so specifically the kind of content you want to follow that no one else in the world will have the same exact information flow. He also said that Twitter and similar micro-blogging site expand quickest where media access is concentrated or restricted, he gave an example of Saudi Arabia where people took to Twitter to mock when a dinosaur exhibition was suddenly shut down.


Finally, he made clear how important local or “hyperlocal” news is. The word from the street is vital as it contains that local knowledge and authenticity that large media providers can’t deliver at a local level