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The gendered newsroom: embodied subjectivity in the changing world of media
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 03:09 authored by North, LC
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.
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