Meet the Old Boys' Club of Canadian political punditry.
A new survey by the Canadian Journalism Project has found that 73% of Canadian newspaper columnists are men and their median age is 58.
Here’s another way of putting it: only 27% of news columnists are women.
And another: half of news columnists are 58 or older.
And one more: we’re getting the majority of our opinions from a demographic group that comes from a different cohort than over 90% of Canada’s population.
The National Post's ratio of 83% male/17% female is bad, but at least the daily paper is below the median age (at 53!). The Toronto Star does the best on the gender side with 60% male/40% female), but the paper brings up the average age (with a median age of 61).
What does this all mean?
For one thing, this is discouraging if you’re an aspiring young female journalist.
But it also begs the question: do Canadian newsrooms have an entrenched old boys' club culture that spills over and frames the news we read? Could this help explain why some studies have found young people and women to be less interested in news and politics?
What we do know is Canada is not alone. Gawker looked at the pool of opinion columnists at newspapers in the United States and found the same trend.
"Why are newspaper opinion columnists so consistently baffled by the politics, technologies, and social mores of the 21st century? We've crunched some data, and we think we've figured out the answer: They're old as hell," it wrote.
To illustrate how this plays out in Canada, check out this highlight reel of some of our fave old white guys.
Toronto Sun's Michael Coren on motherhood:
We’re not supposed to say it anymore but motherhood is pretty important. There are, of course, many women who are forced by economic circumstances to work outside of the home. But there are others who seem to believe that raising a child is less significant than alleged self-fulfillment or even political ambition. [MPP Lisa] MacLeod, do you seriously believe you can be both an exemplary mother and a full-time politician?
Lawrence Martin in the Globe and Mail on the laziness of young people:
The young reject the political status quo, as they should, but they are too lazy to do anything about it. Most of the under-25s don’t even bother to vote. Instead of fighting for change, they wallow in their vanities and entitlements. Not much turns them on except the Idol shows, movies with smut humour and the latest hand-held instruments. Their disillusionment with the political class is understood. Their complacency isn’t.
Rex Murphy on "self-indulgent" student protesters in the National Post:
It began on so picayune a point—a tuition hike of $325 a year. That’s about the cost of one bottle of needless water a day, or half the price of the cheapest cup of coffee. Is this the kind of cause North American students take to the street for? ‘Oh, our university fees, already the lowest probably in the Western world, are going to go up a loonie a day. A loonie a day!: To the Barricades Everyone. And bring me a latté. […] What’s going on in Quebec is not a protest. It’s a parody of one: the future elite of Quebec having a self-indulgent fit.
The National Post's Terence Corcoran on the feminine expressions of sexuality in teen pop music:
…50 years later in the midst of the 2013-14 pop music girl singer battle royale, it’s pretty clear girls don’t cry at parties anymore. They do other things. The opening chorus of the first single from the Miley Cyrus blockbuster Bangerz album lays down the gestalt of the modern female pop star: 'It’s our party and we’ll screw who we want.'
What do you think? Could it be time we started hearing from a more diverse range of voices for a change?