Journalism For Women
Some research finds that women and men broadcast correspondents continue to use men sources more often than women sources, and that women draw upon a greater variety of female and ethnic sources, especially in positive stories; but otherwise they source and frame stories much like their male counterparts Meeks, Nor is the gender gap greater in societies where gender roles tend to be more differentiated, compared to countries where women enjoy less empowerment. Men and women conceive the role of news and evaluated the ethics of reporting methods in similar ways.
Contradicting the predictions about the impact of attaining critical mass, this also remains true at newsrooms dominated by women. That is, the notion of critical mass has not been borne out. War and conflict are the domains in which the strongest claims about gender differences in reporting are made: when covering war, women are said to feature collateral damage, sexual violence as a tactic, and the wider consequences and human impact of conflict, while men emphasize military strategy Elwood-Akers, But others, especially war reporters themselves, insist that women do not write differently, although editors may make assignments on the basis of gender.
In direct contrast to the usual Western stereotypes, one study found that Arab women prefer a detached unemotional style when reporting on pain and suffering, while Arab men engage emotionally with this kind of news Mellor, Women activists and scholars are the most likely to find that gender matters, or that it should matter more. But because many journalists agree that women managers and editors are even more macho than men, scholars have accused the respondents of being blind to gender issues, having normalized male-identified concerns of a male profession Ross, Ironically, in the s, to please advertisers, some U.
This largely failed experiment likewise reveals how marketing concerns drive the sex-binary packaging of news and the construction of women readers and reporters as interested in lifestyle issues and domesticity. In , the sociologist Gaye Tuchman described the trivialization and even erasure of women as both subjects and sources of news stories. Again, news has changed over the decades, and women in positions of power are quoted. On the other hand, evidence is available showing that journalists, regardless of gender, tend to marginalize or trivialize women, especially as athletes and political candidates.
These patterns are said to have important consequences: they discourage citizens from voting for women or contributing to their campaigns, and they discourage women from running for public office. And gender segregation is uneven across domains: for no apparent reason, only 15 of the members of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists are women Sorensen, But all journalists remain subject to the daily routines and structures of news organizations, as well as extra-organizational factors time constraints, the convention of getting information from the most authoritative sources, sources lined up by bookers, the impact of stereotypes on story assignments.
One can reasonably argue that the macro structures and micro routines of newsrooms retain the residue of their male-ordered history. Commercial imperatives have simultaneously driven changes in news values and practices. Meanwhile, masculinity and femininity have changed. Women form no unitary or universal bloc.
Gender and Journalism
Many women in journalism are unsympathetic to feminism as a movement, are indifferent to historical changes accomplished by feminists, and uninterested in contesting traditional masculine constraints. What this underscores is how gender is not a static role or dichotomous set of differences. Rather, gender is dynamically performed in conjunction with intersecting aspects of social identity and complex cultural and social histories. The willingness of many news organizations to hire women reporters, however, is not accompanied by an equal willingness to promote women as editors and publishers.
The number of women in all types of U. The suggestion that women and men execute leadership differently parallels dichotomized notions of gender applied to reporters: feminine management style is said to be more interpersonal, democratic, constructive, and collaborative; masculine management is more autocratic, competitive, and defensive.
But women editors do not make significantly different decisions. Women and men television news directors and newspaper editors manage in similar ways, and make similar decisions about topics, although one study found that women-led newspapers tended to focus on positive stories and to treat reporters with gender equity more often than newspapers headed by men. Women executives are not more likely to hire or promote other women to management positions, Notably, during the years —, the Sarasota [Florida] Herald Tribune had women as its publisher, executive editor, managing editor, and two assistant managing editors, it carried the same content as other papers, with the same percentage of women sources Everbach, Possibly, feeling compelled to prove their abilities within a traditionally male-dominated business, women editors and news directors encourage their reporters to gather information from traditional sources, while men may want to prove that they are not sexist and therefore attempt to use more women as sources.
Notably, for all the excitement when, for the first time, The New York Times chose a white woman as executive editor in , considerable debate ensued in , when she was replaced by an African American man.
Some said Jill Abramson was fired because she complained that her pay and pension benefits were less than the man she replaced. But insiders and outsiders criticized her decisions and especially her management style, calling her divisive and pushy, In any case, all these explanations arguably had a gendered aspect. Nonetheless, a few women have always angled for such assignments, and increasingly, they are getting them. No longer can the U. Vietnam was the first war that women the large majority from the United States covered in significant numbers, albeit often as freelancers.
Different explanations are available for the recent increases in the number of women war reporters.
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It is at least partly economic. Savvy television executives came to understand that pretty faces leaven the sight of body bags and that audiences may even enjoy seeing women doing what was the epitome of maleness Cohen, Meanwhile, editors may be increasingly willing to let women exploit their sexuality, although this may provoke resentment among rivals. Historically, many women covering wars have described exploiting their feminine advantages: their visibility meant they were noticed at press conferences, and their questions were answered first; soldiers eager for female contact helped them in a variety of important ways.
The issue, according to public critics and even reporters themselves, now turns on violence, including sexual violence, to women in war zones. Women war reporters face a high risk of sexual harassment and rape. A survey of 29 women reporters found that more than half reported sexual harassment while on assignment Matloff, Many have been raped. But correspondents who have been sexually attacked—often in combat zones—rarely tell anyone, whether as a matter of embarrassment, compulsion to remain part of the macho club, or most likely, fear of being pulled off an assignment.
Not unlike the advice columns of the early 20th century, this involves trying to attract women audiences through daytime talk shows, as well as confessional and therapy news, features on sex, consumerism, fashion, and gossip about the rich and famous. Some feminists decry the highly personal playful style of journalism aimed at women as demeaning.
Networks are known for promoting, literally and metaphorically, attractive women not ready for prime time. Appearance is becoming increasingly important for men; nonetheless, men can remain on-air even when they grow old, fat, and bald. Several have been fired or demoted as anchors when focus groups deemed a woman unattractive. Notably, sexism and look-ism intersect with ageism and racism; these issues present particular problems for women of color.
Around the world, women journalists often describe sexual harassment from colleagues; harassment and disdain for women in newsrooms represents a globally acknowledged dimension of the occupational culture of journalism North, Women journalists in India seem to be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexism, including in terms of work assignments, promotion, and salaries; they connect this to sexism and a tolerance of sexual harassment in Indian society, despite laws forbidding sexual harassment, such that they generally do not bother to complain about it Bhagat, ; International Federation of Journalists, Notably, Australian women likewise rarely describe themselves as victims or even define behaviors as sexual harassment; they ignore it, in the name of professionalism and in part because of the stigma against complaining North, The Internet applied to journalism brings significant and also gendered challenges and opportunities.
The result is precarity: work life is marked by unpredictability, uncertainty, low income, limited benefits, and general lack of security. Gendered vectors explain why such precarity predicts a feminization of online journalism. Relevant here is that in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other countries, women have long outnumbered men in university journalism programs, and the people most vulnerable to precarity are students, interns, and temporary and contract workers—all of whom tend to be women.
In India, a disproportionate number of women journalists work on contract, often with unfavorable terms; women are the ones to be axed when jobs need to be cut Bhagat, , p. As it turns out, women use social media and certain information platforms at greater rates than men.
The largest and most important online news companies are largely white and male. But the gender differences in reporting practices may be greater online than in legacy media.
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So while the freedom of online sites to depart from conventional objective reporting opens up opportunities for women, the sites of both legacy organizations and online sites retain a commercial orientation rather than a justice orientation. That said, the Internet opens up significant possibilities for women to participate in a more democratized public sphere, to disseminate information, and to expose social inequalities.
Women have launched countless online sites, including ones that are expressly feminist. Among other things, alternative news media create and sustain networks among women literally across the globe. Whether gender is irrelevant in contemporary newsrooms is a matter of debate among journalists; but certainly many women see themselves as professionals first, as journalists. Women working in the most highly gendered arenas—sports and war reporting—must prove themselves by becoming one of the boys.
Even women who individually or in groups face substantial sexism do not necessarily develop gender-consciousness, much less female-specific approaches to work. Women have changed journalism, in part, by inventing forms that were never credited to women, but instead were eventually redefined as conventional. She also undertook dramatic but important investigations through subterfuge; for example, she feigned insanity in order to investigate horrible conditions at a New York City mental asylum Bly, ; Kroeger, Such practices became normalized and hardened into enterprise and investigative journalism.
Thus, the issue is not static organizational constraints that force female reporters to reproduce male interests, but the intersection of sexism and myths about gender with structural problems, such as newsroom profit agendas that compound the likelihood that women will be exploited. For example, the increase in women may reflect a profit-driven shift to cheaper workers, in that they are especially likely to be stringers or freelancers.
Certainly sexism continues in society and in newsrooms, where female reporters are assumed to add spice and sex appeal to attract male audiences. Indeed, precisely because men can now only rarely get away with crude sexism, women journalists who dress provocatively and who make snide comments about prudish women are providing intellectual cover for news organizations that wish to mock women subjects and feminism. More productive would be imagining feminist approaches to journalism more contextual and situated journalistic practices and forms and to newsroom organization collaborative, non-competitive, horizontal work structures that allow for deeper and more serious work, and are more equitable, allowing working parents to take care of family responsibilities.
In journalism, this first meant research to show that women were equal to men but neglected by sexist historians. Marzolf wanted to bring long-forgotten women journalists, as her title put it, Up from the Footnote. The next step was biographies of individual journalists or groups, including black women Streitmatter, , war reporters Elwood-Akers, , and sob sisters Abramson, , as well as studies of the feminist press. The debate over whether or how sexual identity trumps journalistic values and practices continues to drive considerable research. Applying the theory of critical mass, researchers set out to figure out what conditions were necessary, or how many women, first as reporters and then as editors or owners, would be necessary to effect change in newsrooms.
Such claims construct female journalists as ever and always sharing a fixed standpoint dichotomously opposed to a white male prism. This ignores history, including how gender may come in and out of focus and how journalism norms and conventions change. It also ignores contemporary differences in experience and standpoint by virtue of race, sexual orientation, age, and religion, as well as differences by geography, culture, and comparative national ideology.
Journalism and Women Symposium: Democracy Fund
At a minimum, this suggests the value of comparative research and of intersectionality, which emphasizes the intersection of complex historical, material, cultural, and social conditions. How women of ethnic, religious, racial, and sexual minorities, for example, negotiate the particular challenges they face in newsrooms, understand competing loyalties, address professional and ethical dilemmas, and resist or challenge sexist and racist stereotypes and newsroom conditions is highly understudied.
Interviews and surveys are relatively straightforward, cheap, and popular, but over-used and decreasingly productive. Regarding thorny issues that warrant continued attention, such as sexual harassment, focus groups do not systematically prod respondents to confront issues; but online surveys where people can chose to participate can produce misleading accounts if certain kinds of people are disproportionately inclined or disinclined to participate.
Content analyses of published or broadcast stories produce at best inconclusive, shallow data, given that journalism is complicated, institutional, and thoroughly mediated. Meanwhile, media content was long assumed to influence i. Ethnographies will be relevant to exploration of the potential for playful, counter-hegemonic, or oppositional readings that recent scholarship emphasizes. Feminist methods suggest, inter alia, expanding the scope of research materials. Autobiographies and oral histories allow reporters to be self-reflective and self-critical, including with reference to why practitioners entered or quit the newsroom, and how their work was affected by editors Steiner, The GMMP website has links to numerous projects, resource packs, training materials, conferences and seminars that use data from ongoing monitoring events.