Sexualization of the Journalism Profession: TV Representation of Female Journalists’ Intellect, Labor, and Bodies

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Author: Ivana Cvetkovic and Kimberly R. Oostman, University of New Mexico, USA
Email: icvetkovic@unm.edu
Published: August 17, 2018
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijmcf.5.1.06

Citation: Cvetkovic, I,, & Oostman, K. R. (2018). Sexualization of the Journalism Profession: TV Representation of Female Journalists’ Intellect, Labor, and Bodies. IAFOR Journal of Media, Communication & Film, 5(6). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijmcf.5.1.06


Abstract

The representations of journalists in popular culture contribute to the public perception of journalism, journalistic routines and conventions, the processes of newsgathering, and overall reality of news media. In a historically male-dominated profession in which the routinization of journalistic conventions seems to perpetuate the male perspective of journalism, the increasing presence of women journalists both reinforce and challenge the masculine culture of the newsroom. By employing a feminist perspective, combined with the discussion about journalistic norms and routines, this paper analyses representations of female journalists in two American television shows – House of Cards and The Following. The critical analysis of the representation of two women journalists’ characters contributes to the understanding of the mediated construction of newsroom reality in which women’s labor is gendered and sexualized for public consumption.

Three thematic categories emerged in the content analysis – challenging the existing journalistic norms, negotiating femininity and sexuality, and victimization. All three categories are the most common discourses that negotiate two characters’ femininity, sexuality, and their bodies intertwined with their intellectual labor in the newsroom. The themes are not exhaustive of or limited to femininity and sexuality, but include discourses of access to information, new technologies, and business model changes in the media industry. The study considers how the representation of women journalists for public consumption portrays the use of their bodies to gather the news and how viewers might downplay the abilities of not only women in journalism but mistrust the process of news production and the journalistic profession overall.

Keywords

women journalists, journalistic routines and norms, femininity, sexuality