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The gendered newsroom: embodied subjectivity in the changing world of media

North, LC (2006) The gendered newsroom: embodied subjectivity in the changing world of media. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis is an exploration of the gendered production of news in the Australian print
media. It engages with the question of how gender shapes newsroom culture and is
underpinned by a focus on the dilemmas, constraints, negotiations and compromises
which shape journalists' day-to-day routines. It is particularly concerned with the
experiences of women. The four main questions with which I engage are: How is
newsroom culture embodied? What are the discourses of sexually harassing behaviour in
the newsroom? How has global industry change impacted on the workplace and what
does this mean for journalists? How does feminism get played out in the newsroom?
The thesis responds to a call from feminist media scholars for a return to the study
of cultural production as a key area of media research (for example Byerly, 1999, 2004a;
McRobbie, 2000). Emphasis on media texts and their various meanings, and audience
responses, has been at the expense of any detailed considerations of those who actually
make the texts. This focus has either downplayed or dismissed both journalists'
subjectivities and the power relations of production processes in newsmaking.
In Australia, media studies research has not attended to the gendered dimensions
of news production. My research addresses this gap in the literature and expands on the
work of a group of feminist media scholars in the United States, the United Kingdom, the
West Indies, India, The Netherlands and Sweden whose central concern is the gendered
production of news.
Seventeen in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight male
and nine female journalists working in the Australian print news media. The majority of
the interviews were conducted in early 2004. The participants worked for regional and
metropolitan newspapers in four states - variously owned by a broad cross-section of
media companies. The participants ranged in age and experience in the industry and
included editors, cadets, political reporters, sub-editors, a freelance reporter and a
reporter who had recently left the industry.
The research project was not set up to be a representative sample but rather a
small, yet diverse, sample through which a close reading of the transcripts could allow for
the exploration of key themes. The merit of this research consists in revealing how the
subjectivities of Australian journalists take effect in the newsroom.
The repercussions of men's dominance in positions of power in print media
newsrooms in Australia is that men's superiority is asserted and women are viewed as,
and the majority of female interviewees experience the workplace as, outsiders. It is more
than just numerical gender inequity, however, which creates an uncomfortable newsroom
environment for the female interviewees. Other considerations include shifts in media
concentration and technology and the prevalence of sexually harassing behaviour.
Women take up various subject positions to survive the newsroom and its male culture.
Rarely, however, do they attain the exclusive status of 'a journalist', which I argue is
male and heterosexual.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Date Deposited: 29 May 2013 01:19
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:54
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