Journalism
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Is news for men?: Effects of women’s participation in news-making on audience perceptions and behaviors

Publication Date Sep 8, 2022

Abstract

News avoidance, particularly among women, raises potential challenges for democracy. While research shows audiences don’t penalize women reporters or the outlets that employ them, we don’t know whether the presence of women in the newsroom affects such avoidance behaviors, particularly for women audiences. Additionally, the news may communicate gender to the audience in other ways beyond ascriptive characteristics of the reporter. We ask, do reporter gender, source gender, and gender of issues affect readers’ engagements with news, attitudes toward news avoidance, or perceptions about gender bias in journalism? Results from a survey experiment show that newsroom diversity affects “news-is-for-men” perceptions. Upon reading a masculine-issue story, respondents—both men and women—were more willing to read and seek stories from the same news outlet. News stories from male reporters also caused a stronger belief that the newsroom was dominated by men, which boosted “news-is-for-men” perceptions. As such, though reporter gender may not always impact readers directly, its influence is more pervasive than can be directly captured.

Concepts

News Avoidance Audience Perceptions News Outlet News Stories Stronger Belief Gender Bias Avoidance Behaviors Newsroom Diversity Ascriptive Characteristics Survey Experiment

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