Article

“A Slightly New Shade of Lipstick”: Gendered Mediation in Internet News Stories

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Abstract

Grounded in frame theory and the gendered mediation thesis, this study examines the use of gendered descriptive language, metaphors, status and power designations as well as personal detail in Internet news stories. One hundred sixty-eight lead stories appearing on CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and NYT.com were examined. The findings reveal that Internet stories rely on gendered language and male metaphors and analogies. Moreover, they are more likely to include personal information on females while simultaneously omitting information related to females' status and power. These findings provide evidence that major Internet news outlets place more emphasis on the male sphere of influence than the female sphere, thereby reinforcing the notion that the male standard is the norm in society with females presented as outside of that norm.

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... Second, while the Internet offers the potential for more diverse content with equal coverage (Yun et al. 2007), in their study of Internet news stories appearing on CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and NYT.com, Burke and Mazzarella (2008) found that this potential has not been achieved and that there are not significant differences between mainstream Internet news and its print counterparts. Indeed, Thiel (2004), in her indepth interviews with US female online journalists, found that after an initial period where most online news outlets had a more diverse and inclusive content, as traditional journalists and newsroom managers were increasingly placed in leadership positions, longstanding organizational routines and hierarchies quickly regressed shifting the new media newsroom to a traditional model. ...
... Although the Internet might have the potential to be a more gender-free space, there is evidence (Burke and Mazzarella 2008;Thiel 2004, both in the US) that the journalist's ability to influence content is not significantly different in on-line newspapers where contributions come from professional traditional journalists. ...
... This confirms the findings of those studies that show that the Internet press has similar practices and decision-making processes as the conventional press (e.g. Burke and Mazzarella 2008;Thiel 2004, both in the US). ...
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In the present research we investigate possible predictors of the presence of women in Spanish online newspapers using an automatic content analysis over a three-month period. Results of the analysis reveal that Spanish online newspapers continue depicting women in a stereotyped manner. Women are still linked to traditionally ‘female’ sections, and they appear more frequently in news considered less important in terms of extension and publication day. The gender of the reporter also matters since female journalists tend to include more women in the news they report than their male peers.
... Researchers have consistently argued and demonstrated the ways in which news media representations help to shape public perceptions about the world [1,2] including those around gender [3]. For example, various studies have investigated how women are under-represented in the news media [4,5,6,7], looking at the percentage of the news written by women [5], how often women are mentioned in news stories and how often women are used as experts [6,7], with other studies covering the images displayed in the news [4]. These studies, amongst many others, have established how males dominate the narrative of mainstream news media. ...
... Researchers have consistently argued and demonstrated the ways in which news media representations help to shape public perceptions about the world [1,2] including those around gender [3]. For example, various studies have investigated how women are under-represented in the news media [4,5,6,7], looking at the percentage of the news written by women [5], how often women are mentioned in news stories and how often women are used as experts [6,7], with other studies covering the images displayed in the news [4]. These studies, amongst many others, have established how males dominate the narrative of mainstream news media. ...
... Our findings here are supported by manual studies [4,5,6,7], and earlier automated studies [8,9,10], including our own work [11] where we previously found that the ratio of males to females of the most mentioned entities found that Sports was contained the least balanced among the 1,000 most mentioned entities, with the topic of Fashion being the closest to parity. ...
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Feminist news media researchers have long contended that masculine news values shape journalists' quotidian decisions about what is newsworthy. As a result, it is argued, topics and issues traditionally regarded as primarily of interest and relevance to women are routinely marginalised in the news, while men's views and voices are given privileged space. When women do show up in the news, it is often as "eye candy," thus reinforcing women's value as sources of visual pleasure rather than residing in the content of their views. To date, evidence to support such claims has tended to be based on small-scale, manual analyses of news content. In this article, we report on findings from our large-scale, data-driven study of gender representation in online English language news media. We analysed both words and images so as to give a broader picture of how gender is represented in online news. The corpus of news content examined consists of 2,353,652 articles collected over a period of six months from more than 950 different news outlets. From this initial dataset, we extracted 2,171,239 references to named persons and 1,376,824 images resolving the gender of names and faces using automated computational methods. We found that males were represented more often than females in both images and text, but in proportions that changed across topics, news outlets and mode. Moreover, the proportion of females was consistently higher in images than in text, for virtually all topics and news outlets; women were more likely to be represented visually than they were mentioned as a news actor or source. Our large-scale, data-driven analysis offers important empirical evidence of macroscopic patterns in news content concerning the way men and women are represented.
... 210). Specifically, gendered mediation is a type of framing that results when journalists use language differently depending on the sex of an individual or the gender-relevance of an issue (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). ...
... However, in order to study the gendering of news, it is important to understand that news stories are constructed or 'framed' in certain ways (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). It is not, however, one individual story that constructs meaning (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008), but rather the overall discourse -the 'interpretive packages' (Gamson and Modigliani, 1989: 2). ...
... However, in order to study the gendering of news, it is important to understand that news stories are constructed or 'framed' in certain ways (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). It is not, however, one individual story that constructs meaning (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008), but rather the overall discourse -the 'interpretive packages' (Gamson and Modigliani, 1989: 2). Therefore, analysing a body of articles enables us to understand how news outlets construct frames, in turn dictating a particular way of thinking about sex trafficking. ...
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The Former Soviet Republics and the Baltic states are a primary source destination for sex traffickers. Drawing on framing theory and the gendered mediation thesis, this study uses a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative textual analysis to analyse how four English-language newspapers in the Former Soviet Republics and the Baltic states report on the issue of sex trafficking over a period of 11 years. Findings suggest that there is little coverage of sex trafficking in English-language newspapers in the region, existing coverage lacks a clear definition regarding what sex trafficking is and the issue appears to only be deemed newsworthy when tied to policy changes. This article argues that given the severity of the issue, it is important that it is brought to the public and policy makers’ attention. News media have the ability to serve that function, but are not currently doing so.
... Official sources and explanations are usually favored over all others. Reporters, quoted sources, and subjects of news are predominantly (approximately 80%) male (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). The most significant are biases in news coverage of gendered violence, coverage of campaigns and politics (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008), and coverage of sports performance (Billings and Holt Duke, 2010). ...
... Reporters, quoted sources, and subjects of news are predominantly (approximately 80%) male (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). The most significant are biases in news coverage of gendered violence, coverage of campaigns and politics (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008), and coverage of sports performance (Billings and Holt Duke, 2010). ...
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This article defends the notion that incorporation of the gender dimension in all Communication and Media studies is highly desirable because of its contribution to the study of ideology, ethics, and balance in media. The first part of the article explores the main reasons for the need of such transversal integration of gender studies in university curricula, especially in the field of Communication and Media Studies and indicates the main concepts that should be part of undergraduate degrees that include these areas. The second part of the article provides an illustration of the pervasive presence of gender bias in mass mediated texts including mainstream news stories and television programs. The exposition of insights related to gender stereotypes and biases in these two areas are intended as illustrative examples that point to the range and significance of scholarship on gender and communication/ media more generally.
... The way a given article portrays or presents a certain politician might be different from the way in which it presents another politician, whether done deliberately or not. And for the most part, the media often portray women differently from their male Society counterparts (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008;Holtz-Bacha, 2013; Van der Pas and Aaldering, 2020). ...
... The personal frame (present in 117 of the 240 articles) includes references to a candidate's personal life, whether that be in regard to their appearance, role within the family, or character traits unrelated to their political career (Burke and Mazzarella, 2008;Devitt, 2002). The presence or absence of coverage that fell within the specific categories for personal frame which were coded separately for each candidate include physical appearance (Clinton: 3 articles; Trump: 3 articles), family references (Clinton: 50 articles; Trump: 20 articles), and personality or character traits. ...
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In 2016, the USA witnessed a presidential competition unlike anything the country had ever seen before. Not only did the election feature a female presidential candidate on a major political party’s ticket, but it also saw the candidacy of a Washington outsider, bringing with him a swelling of populist views in the USA. While this campaign period was atypical historically, there is much to learn from media coverage of the election cycle. A wealth of literature has revealed differences in both the quantity and substance of coverage of female politicians and their male competitors during mixed-gender races. This paper expands prior research by looking at the difference in media coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 2016 US. presidential election. Specifically, this study examines coverage from two well-known and widely circulated papers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, focusing on differences in the quantity and substance of coverage between the two candidates. The study looked at substance through the lens of three dominant frames outlined in prior research: personal, issue, and strategic game frame. Results revealed Trump received more coverage than Clinton, but findings were mixed in terms of framed coverage of the candidates, with no differences in personal coverage of the two, in contrast to prior research.
... By analysing masculine control over news production and politics, she demonstrated that men have long dominated news and print media, and thereby confirmed the existence of what Sreberny-Mohammadi and Ross (1996, p. 114) termed the 'masculinist norms of the news industry' that govern the production of news (van Zoonen, 1994, p. 43). It is therefore unsurprising that the media actively perpetuate traditional masculinist views of politics and politicians rather than merely reflecting them (Sreberny and van Zoonen, 2000;Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). Everitt (1999, 2010) and Burke and Mazzarella (2008) take up the same line of argument by observing that masculine coverage reaffirms male politician's 'traditional dominance of political life' and implies that women are 'atypical' and trivial (Gidengil and Everitt, 1999, p. 49;Burke and Mazzarella, 2008, p. 3). ...
... It is therefore unsurprising that the media actively perpetuate traditional masculinist views of politics and politicians rather than merely reflecting them (Sreberny and van Zoonen, 2000;Burke and Mazzarella, 2008). Everitt (1999, 2010) and Burke and Mazzarella (2008) take up the same line of argument by observing that masculine coverage reaffirms male politician's 'traditional dominance of political life' and implies that women are 'atypical' and trivial (Gidengil and Everitt, 1999, p. 49;Burke and Mazzarella, 2008, p. 3). ...
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This article compares how the print media portrayed Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May in the first three weeks of their respective prime ministerial terms. Examining the similarities and differences between the media coverage of the two leaders, who ascended to the prime ministerial role almost 40 years apart, helps us understand how mainstream media coverage concentrates on the gendered differences of women political leaders from the masculine leadership norm. Seven major daily newspapers were examined, using feminist content analysis and feminist critical discourse analysis. The study revealed that, contrary to expectations, not only was there more attention to May’s gender than to Thatcher’s, but it was also more detailed and elaborate, particularly in the conservative press.
... Even if the amount of coverage about women in politics is similar to men, the content itself may be an important source of gendered mediation. Nearly 100% of men, but only 75% of women are identified in online news through their positions of power, including their occupation or their formal titles (Burke & Mazzarella, 2010). This is replicated in print and television news coverage, as women candidates in Canadian politics are significantly less likely than men to be featured with images or symbols of power, such as the flag or Parliament (Goodyear-Grant, 2013). ...
... During Elizabeth Dole's presidential nomination campaign, about 17% of media coverage explicitly referenced her appearance, and a majority discussed her marital status and personality (Heldman et al. 2005). Comparable patterns are found in media coverage about Hillary Clinton in 2008 (Miller et al., 2010), as well as for Helen Clark while serving as New Zealand's Prime Minister (Burke & Mazzarella, 2010). ...
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Women politicians have long faced a gendered media environment, where their novelty, potential (in)competence, family, and appearance have been over-emphasized in comparison to men. Much of this literature has focused on politicians running for office and women who hold legislative office. Little research investigates gendered news media presentations of women as heads of government. While the literature predicts that women heads of government should experience gendered differences in news coverage, there is also good reason to expect that news about government operations should not vary based on the gender of the government leader. Using their first year of online news coverage (N = 11,675), we build a series of dictionaries and use automated content analysis to assess how frequently heads of government’s uniqueness, gender, family, appearance, sexual orientation, character, and competence are presented. We also assess the tone of news about each head of government. Results show that gendered coverage exists for women heads of government in potentially surprising ways. Fewer new stories are written about them, on average, than men. Women’s coverage features more feminine and masculine gendered identifies, as well as more coverage about their clothing. We find little evidence for increased personalization, and women’s character and competence are presented more positively than men’s. Though blunt, this analysis shows that news about heads of government remains gendered.
... Their unexpected nominations provoked media frenzies, which many political practitioners suggested contributed to their campaigns' eventual demise. To be sure, inequalities in the amount, tone, and type of media coverage between male and female political candidates have been well documented in the past two decades (Banwart, Bystrom, and Robertson 2003;Burke and Mazzarella 2008;Bystrom et al. 2004;Dunaway et al. 2013;Kahn 1992Kahn , 1994aKahn , 1994bKahn , 1996Kahn and Goldenberg 1991), and are especially pronounced for women running for the highest executive office, the presidency (Carlin and Winfrey 2009;Carroll 2009;Duerst-Lahti 2007;Han and Heldman 2007;Heldman, Carroll, and Olson 2005;Lawrence and Rose 2010). The implication of media coverage that neglects female candidates, or covers them in stereotypically feminine terms, is presumed to be that voter perception is affected in ways that disadvantage female candidates (Bystrom, Robertson, and Banwart 2001;Huddy and Terkildsen 1993;Kahn 1992;1994a). ...
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Print media coverage of vice presidential candidates is examined from 1984 through 2008 to determine whether gender differences exist in the amount, type, tone, and content of coverage. We find persistent gender differences in mention of dress/appearance, mention of candidate family, gendered policy coverage, and negative tone that disadvantage female candidates. Additionally, female candidates are four times more likely to receive sexist media coverage, and the intensity and volume of sexist coverage increased dramatically from Ferraro’s run in 1984 to Palin’s run in 2008. We also compared Palin’s coverage in Old Media (print) and New Media (blogs) and found that sexist coverage and negative coverage are more pronounced in this new medium. This does not bode well for female candidates considering that New Media is eclipsing Old Media in readership.
... The third phase focuses on 'gendered mediation' -a process that is understood as 'the more subtle, but arguably more insidious, form of bias that arises when conventional political frames are applied to female politicians' (Gidengil and Everitt, 1999: 49). Burke and Mazzarella (2008) further define gendered mediation as 'a type of framing that results when journalists use language differently depending on the sex of an individual' (p. 398). ...
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... Also, women are most often represented to share personal experiences, as vox pops and as eyewitnesses, and least represented as experts and spokespersons. Burke and Mazzarella's (2008) research on lead stories in online news outlets such as CNN and The New York Times was particularly pessimistic. Men were nearly six times more represented and quoted in leads as compared to women. ...
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Research has repeatedly found an unequal representation of women compared to men in the news. Yet most research until now has focused on traditional news media including newspapers, radio, and television even though the arrival of the Internet has often been linked with democratization of news production and news distribution. This study intends to fill this gap by investigating the representation of men and women in the global online news platform Vice by means of quantitative content analysis (N = 450). We focus on and compare three channels that each have their focus: Vice Broadly (channel for women), Vice News (channel for hard news), and Vice Belgium (country channel). The findings reveal that Vice provides a more equal representation of women compared to previous studies of traditional media, although some stereotypical patterns remain intact, with some important differences between the three channels.
... The issue-specific frames were ideology, military consequences and a game frame that depicted the elections in terms of competition, contests, criticism and victory or loss (Han, 2007). Burke & Mazzarella (2008) found gender-oriented frames on lead stories on CNN.com, FoxNews.com and NYTimes. com. ...
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... However, it is important to look at studies that have considered the role of the internet in creating a space in which voices that struggle to access mainstream media, such as feminist and other activists, can be expressed and heard, as well as those studies that have identified the way in which various forms of harassment and violence against women are practised within new media. Scholarly work on the internet ranges from that which identifies and celebrates its transformative and even transgressive potential to that which considers its conservative tendencies in the sense of replicating and reinforcing dominant power relations as they exist in the off-line world (Burke & Mazzarella, 2008;Morahan-Martin, 2000;Ritchie, 2013). ...
... Their unexpected nominations provoked media frenzies, which many political practitioners suggested contributed to their campaigns' eventual demise. To be sure, inequalities in the amount, tone, and type of media coverage between male and female political candidates have been well documented in the past two decades (Banwart, Bystrom, and Robertson 2003;Burke and Mazzarella 2008;Bystrom et al. 2004;Dunaway et al. 2013;Kahn 1992Kahn , 1994aKahn , 1994bKahn , 1996Kahn and Goldenberg 1991), and are especially pronounced for women running for the highest executive office, the presidency (Carlin and Winfrey 2009;Carroll 2009;Duerst-Lahti 2007;Han and Heldman 2007;Heldman, Carroll, and Olson 2005;Lawrence and Rose 2010). The implication of media coverage that neglects female candidates, or covers them in stereotypically feminine terms, is presumed to be that voter perception is affected in ways that disadvantage female candidates (Bystrom, Robertson, and Banwart 2001;Huddy and Terkildsen 1993;Kahn 1992;1994a). ...
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An analysis of news coverage of vice presidential candidates finds the previously observed media biases for women who run for other political positions to be present for women vice presidential nominees, and especially in the arena of new media, where editorial filters are mostly absent. Using content analysis of major print news and online blogs, we find sex inequalities in coverage tone, type, and hard sexism (overtly gendered insults). Coverage of female vice presidential candidates is more negative, more focused on her appearance and familial role, and more sexist, than coverage of male vice presidential candidates. Furthermore, we find that negative tone and hard sexism are more pronounced in the online blogosphere. The implication for women, especially for those with presidential ambitions, is that known media hostility may be a deterrent, and further stimulates the chronic underrepresentation of women in our governing institutions.
... These gendered media narratives can diminish the appeal of female politicians as they shift focus from the content of a message to how it is delivered (Gidengil and Everitt 2003;Haraldsson and Lena 2019). When issue-based coverage is lacking and instead replaced by reporting that focuses on personality or personal circumstances, voters have no foundation for assessing whether a female candidate is suitable for office (Burke and Mazzarella 2008). By focusing on their "sexed bodies", women in politics continue to lose legitimacy and become further entrenched in the norm that men should be in public and women should remain at home (Linda Trimble, et al. 2013, 665). ...
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