Gendering and selling the female news audience in a digital age

Authored by: Dustin Harp

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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In those parts of the world with a free press—that is, free from government control—the news industry business model necessitates earning money to survive. Understanding this, we’ve grown accustomed to advertisements alongside news even though many of us realize certain conflicts between press freedom and the potential power advertisers have in subtly (and sometimes overtly) shaping news content. For example, a local newspaper might not run a negative exposé on a local business that buys weekly full-page advertisements. Less often discussed and understood is how historically and currently the placement of advertising and its relationship to news content and production reinforce patriarchal and stereotypical notions of gender, and position women (more so than men) as consumers to be sold to advertisers. Advertising has long driven journalistic choices in the packaging of news. In the United States newspaper publishers started in the 1890s segregating content related to women by creating special pages (Jordan 1938; Kitch 2002; Marzolf 1977). Women’s pages were introduced in order to package and sell women readers as a group of consumers to advertisers. This practice of promoting news content to a gendered audience is not solely a US phenomenon, as evidenced by the number of women’s sections in newspapers around the globe.

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