Computationally Tracking Gender Balance in News Content with Open Web Technologies

Last fall, the Knight Foundation granted us from the Prototype Fund to build OpenGenderTracker, a suite of open source tools for analyzing and visualizing gender representation in journalism through the examination of pronouns in bylines and news content. Bocoupers Irene Ros and Adam Hyland worked with Nathan Matias from the The MIT Center for Civic Media to create the tools.

With this grant, we’ve created an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-integrate service that also provides objective and meaningful metrics. With OpenGenderTracker, publications will be able to efficiently evaluate the voice and gender of content and use this data to inform strategic decision making. Real-time data allow newsrooms to set benchmarks specific to their desks and beats rather than relying on an external organization. Being able to discuss these issues accurately rather than anecdotally will empower modern news organizations to create more compelling stories for their readers.

The Knight Foundation’s support allowed us to invest in the critical data discovery phase, which is often overlooked in the data visualization process. Dedicating time to thoughtful data discovery builds a strong foundation for more meaningful data visualizations, and the tools the team has built in this phase can now be used by newsrooms to build compelling data visualizations.

At Bocoup, it is our mission to move the Open Web forward. OpenGenderTracker is an exciting project because it brings more Open Web technology to newsrooms. OpenGenderTracker pushes the diversity issue forward, and diversity on the Open Web makes it more viable. In adopting OpenGenderTracker, newsrooms are further committing to Open Web technologies.

The newsrooms we are working with praise OpenGenderTracker for providing diversity metrics with actionable tools. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be writing more here about our data discovery phase, our case studies with the Boston Globe and Global Voices, and our future plans and vision for this project.