Gendering Worcester News

Mitra, BarbaraTaylor, L.Milburn-Curtis, C. and McCarron, J. (2018) Gendering Worcester News. Journal of the Association for Journalism Education, 7 (1). pp. 29-38. ISSN 2050-3903

This research explores gender and gender stereotypes in a local newspaper, focusing on issues such as whose voice is accessed as a news source, as well as whether female and male journalists dominate soft news or hard news articles. Using the local newspaper, Worcester News, detailed content analysis was conducted for six months (Monday to Saturday for the same week each month).

The analysis highlighted that gender biases continue in Worcester News and that this has implications for training journalists. Male journalists tended to write far more articles about Politics (Political articles were written by 89% of male journalists compared with 11% of female journalists). Similarly, male journalists were more likely to write about Crime and Business (73% of these articles were written by male journalists compared with 27% of female journalists). Female journalists also wrote more about Family issues (36% male journalists compared with 64% of female journalists) and Leisure (34% male journalists compared with 66% female journalists).

These differences reinforce hard news/soft news gendered perceptions, as well as providing the readership with role models that tend to strengthen gender stereotypes, such as women being discouraged from engaging in politics and the public sphere. The sole authoritative voices used also tended to be male (49% were male compared with 14% that were solely female). Female sources were often placed alongside a male (this constituted 29% in Worcester News) – and although these figures tended to be better than the findings from Cochrane (2011), it is suggested that such gender disparities are continuing to reinforce hegemonic masculinity as the dominant norm for journalists and the news they produce.