This morning, NPR broadcast a story in which Juan Williams went to Crawford, Texas, to ask voters what they think of President Bush. This is such a creaky, cliched story format, and Williams's choice of venue was particularly absurd -- asking people in Crawford what they think of Bush is about as informative as asking people in the Bronx which team they're rooting for in a World Series involving the Yankees (although Williams did find a few people willing to utter one or two negative words about Bush).
But I bring this up because of the gender skew in Williams's interviews. I made a mental note as I listened, and now I can't remember (and NPR audio doesn't work on the computer I'm using), but Williams interviewed one woman and either five or six men. (Go here and scroll down if you want to listen for yourself.)
I hate stories like this. Invariably they begin with a trip to a coffee shop, where men -- always men -- sit around over endless coffee refills and free-associate about whatever issue is on the mind of the reporter from the big city. Reporters who do stories like this inevitably find a group of men who are willing to chew the fat -- but how representative are such groups of the general population? How many people do you know who can linger endlessly in an old-fashioned coffee shop on a typical morning? How many people do you know who want to?
You hear stories like this on NPR; you read them in The New York Times; they probably appear in your local paper as well. Next time you run across one, count the women and count the men. I guarantee the male-female ratio will be at least two-to-one. And I guarantee a lot of those men will have been found hanging out at the coffee shop.