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Media Coverage of Sexual Assault, #MeToo, Is Rising

The number of articles on sexual assault has increased more than 30% between May 2017 and August 2018, according to a study of the content of headlines, bylines, and articles on 15,228 pieces of news conducted by the Women’s Media Center. When articles focused solely on the#MeToo movement are added, total coverage has increased 52%, according to the report.

“We’ve come a long way since Anita Hill’s courageous testimony in 1991, and it is women who have led the way. It took the explosion of the #MeToo movement to shift and increase coverage of women, sexual assault, and harassment. There’s no going back,” said Maya Harris, co-chair, Women’s Media Center, in a statement.

The survey consisted of 14 of the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday (N.Y.), Tampa Bay Times, The Arizona Republic, The Columbus Dispatch, The Denver Post, The Houston Chronicle, The Mercury News (Calif.), The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

The report surfaces about a year after The New York Times and The New Yorker published blockbuster articles examining allegations of harassment and assault levied against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has denied charges made against him. In the months following, many other famous and well-known executives also came under scrutiny for allegations of their treatment of women.

The study found that even stories beyond those about sexual abuse, assault, and harassment—beginning with the Times story in October 2017—have been amplified by the #MeToo movement. After October 2017, media began to more commonly write about issues that particularly pertain to women, including reproductive health and the wage gap.

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