Gender asymmetries in news reports

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Women have traditionally been defined in journalistic studies as the ‘unaccessed voice group’ due to their underrepresentation in most media coverage, a fact commonly described in linguistics as ‘symbolic annihilation’ (Caldas-Coulthard 2002; Armstrong 2004). Although many scholars state that linguistic stereotypes have been weakening over time, there is a prevailing view that women are still experiencing linguistic discrimination in the age of digital storytelling. This paper discusses gender inequality by means of an in-depth study of females as sources of information in newspaper discourse, based on a corpus of 68 online news items published in four broadsheet British and Spanish newspapers: The Times, The Guardian, El Mundo and El País. The research mainly focuses on the possible relation between the gender of the source and that of the news reporter, as well as the tendencies in the depiction of female sources in reporting segments. The analysis reveals a continuing underrepresentation of women, though less noticeable in the Spanish news group. Contrary to possible expectations, both corpora coincide in defining female sources on a professional basis. The results also suggest that the predominance of male sources of information, rather than being tied to the ‘familiarity’ criterion, is institutionally biased.
Tradicionalmente las mujeres han sido definidas en estudios periodísticos como ‘la voz inaccesible del grupo’ debido a su infrarrepresentación en la mayor parte de la cobertura mediática, un hecho que se ha descrito comúnmente en lingüística como ‘aniquilación simbólica’ (Caldas-Coulthard 2002; Armstrong 2004). Aunque muchos expertos afirman que los estereotipos lingüísticos se han ido reduciendo con el tiempo, hay una postura predominante que establece que las mujeres todavía están experimentando discriminación lingüística en la era de la narración digital. Este artículo aborda la desigualdad de género por medio de un estudio exhaustivo de las mujeres como fuentes de información en el discurso periodístico, basado en un corpus de 68 noticias online publicadas en cuatro periódicos británicos y españoles en línea de gran tirada: The Times, The Guardian, El Mundo y El País. La investigación se centra principalmente en la posible relación entre el género de la fuente y el del periodista, así como en las tendencias en la representación de las fuentes femeninas en los segmentos citativos. El análisis revela la continua infrarrepresentación de la mujer, aunque este hecho es menos evidente en el grupo de noticias españolas. En contra de posibles expectativas, ambos corpus coinciden en definir las fuentes femeninas según su profesión. Los resultados también sugieren que el predominio de las fuentes masculinas de información, en lugar de estar ligado al criterio de la ‘familiaridad’, se debe al sesgo institucional.
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