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Reclassifying “Soft” and “Hard” News – Culture Specific Findings or a Reflection of Gender?
Unformatted Document Text:  “news – the newsman’s reality” (Tuchman, 1995:316). Only after completing her research Tuchman did understand that her choice to focus on the news did not stem from reasons relating to current events or the relevance of the issue to the Vietnam War: she also was attracted to the news due to its gossip-like format. Âł I had grown up surrounded by talk about people in my town and by family gossip although, unlike news workers, we were not supposed to repeat those stories. As I had done my research, I had realized that participant observation of the newsroom reminded me of family rules: Don’t repeat tales from one person to the next. Be careful as you negotiate your path within the extended family. What I had thought was a politically motivated dissertation was intensely personal” (Tuchman, 1995:316). Gender Effect Ëś Ëś The Feminization of the media (Weaver, 1997; Limor & Lavie, 2002) evoked consternation of experienced professionals and raised hope for women. One of the fascinating issues which have engaged media scholars for at least two decades touches upon the question of whether gender has, or should have, an affect on the contents of the media in general and on the news, in particular. This question has become even more salient in light of global indications of the feminization of mass media. Recent theoretical and research developments, have however, replaced the “or-or” treatment of the gender effect with an understanding of the complex, situational and relational nature of the phenomenon. The formerly dichotomous debate over the existence or non-existence of the gender effect was thus diverted to the examination of additional factors which potentially hold the answer to this question. Gender is no longer exclusively viewed as a static attribute – the appreciation of its dynamic nature has been incorporated in researchers’ treatment of this issue. Nonetheless, two schools of thought, posed against each other, may be identified. The common denominator of both perspectives is unmistakable: both are highly theoretical. Both approaches have attracted few attempts at empirical validation and those studies which have been conducted are partial or limited in scope, unable to provide an unambiguous answer to the question of the relationship between gender and media contents . The absence of comprehensive empirical studies on the issue of

Authors: Lavie, Aliza.
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“news – the newsman’s reality” (Tuchman, 1995:316). Only after completing her
research Tuchman did understand that her choice to focus on the news did not stem
from reasons relating to current events or the relevance of the issue to the Vietnam
War: she also was attracted to the news due to its gossip-like format.
Âł I had grown up surrounded by talk about people in my town and by family gossip
although, unlike news workers, we were not supposed to repeat those stories. As I had
done my research, I had realized that participant observation of the newsroom
reminded me of family rules: Don’t repeat tales from one person to the next. Be
careful as you negotiate your path within the extended family. What I had thought
was a politically motivated dissertation was intensely personal” (Tuchman,
1995:316).
Gender Effect
Ëś
Ëś
The Feminization of the media (Weaver, 1997; Limor & Lavie, 2002) evoked
consternation of experienced professionals and raised hope for women. One of the
fascinating issues which have engaged media scholars for at least two decades touches
upon the question of whether gender has, or should have, an affect on the contents of
the media in general and on the news, in particular. This question has become even
more salient in light of global indications of the feminization of mass media.
Recent theoretical and research developments, have however, replaced the “or-or”
treatment of the gender effect with an understanding of the complex, situational and
relational nature of the phenomenon. The formerly dichotomous debate over the
existence or non-existence of the gender effect was thus diverted to the examination
of additional factors which potentially hold the answer to this question. Gender is no
longer exclusively viewed as a static attribute – the appreciation of its dynamic nature
has been incorporated in researchers’ treatment of this issue.
Nonetheless, two schools of thought, posed against each other, may be identified. The
common denominator of both perspectives is unmistakable: both are highly
theoretical. Both approaches have attracted few attempts at empirical validation and
those studies which have been conducted are partial or limited in scope, unable to
provide an unambiguous answer to the question of the relationship between gender
and media contents
.
The absence of comprehensive empirical studies on the issue of


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