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Reclassifying “Soft” and “Hard” News – Culture Specific Findings or a Reflection of Gender?
Unformatted Document Text:  news = women’ will dissolve. Consequently, women will be able to operate equally to men with regards to areas of coverage (in practice, by adopting values and traits currently classified as “masculine”), while no loss of status will be ascribed to men who report on “soft” issues. The second group in this stream attributes the absence of a gender effect on media practices and content to the mediation of a complex host of social and cultural factors. Even if the feminization process continues, they claim, even if journalism becomes a clearly feminine profession, no reflection of this fact will be evident in media contents (Lafky, 1991; Van Zoonen, 1988; 1994). For example, Weaver and Wilhoit (1996) claim that the newsroom and its atmosphere are the most influential facts on the assimilation of journalists’ professional values, exceeding the impact of the feminization process or variables of race or gender. Claims of this group are also based on empirical data collected in recent decades which point to the gender otherness of media products, at least some of which can be explained by difference in cultural and social background. 4 Cultural Dynamics Grounded in the critical school and the economic-political approach which vertically transects and affects all levels of analyses noted above, is the constant conflict between an organization’s commercial needs and its stance with regard to social issues and the news. Grounded in the marketing-commercial approach which has dominated the print media in the Western world, commercial journalism is characterized by its constant need to correctly assess the taste of its readers/audience/listeners in order to expand its target audience. This marketing need requires the formulation of a hierarchy of newsworthiness, based on issues’ appeal to the largest possible audience of both male and females readers. Thus, the hierarchy of newsworthiness was an a priori construction, consistent with the requirements of profit maximization. As early as the late 1970s, Elliott (1977) claimed that media 4 A study conducted among British and German journalists found differences between men and women. In addition, the otherness reported in England (women expressed a greater desire to help and advise others) differed from those reported in German (women expressed greater openness to new ideas) (Van Zoonen, 1994).

Authors: Lavie, Aliza.
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news = women’ will dissolve. Consequently, women will be able to operate equally to
men with regards to areas of coverage (in practice, by adopting values and traits
currently classified as “masculine”), while no loss of status will be ascribed to men
who report on “soft” issues.
The second group in this stream attributes the absence of a gender effect on media
practices and content to the mediation of a complex host of social and cultural factors.
Even if the feminization process continues, they claim, even if journalism becomes a
clearly feminine profession, no reflection of this fact will be evident in media contents
(Lafky, 1991; Van Zoonen, 1988; 1994). For example, Weaver and Wilhoit (1996)
claim that the newsroom and its atmosphere are the most influential facts on the
assimilation of journalists’ professional values, exceeding the impact of the
feminization process or variables of race or gender. Claims of this group are also
based on empirical data collected in recent decades which point to the gender
otherness of media products, at least some of which can be explained by difference in
cultural and social background.
4
Cultural Dynamics
Grounded in the critical school and the economic-political approach which vertically
transects and affects all levels of analyses noted above, is the constant conflict
between an organization’s commercial needs and its stance with regard to social
issues and the news. Grounded in the marketing-commercial approach which has
dominated the print media in the Western world, commercial journalism is
characterized by its constant need to correctly assess the taste of its
readers/audience/listeners in order to expand its target audience. This marketing need
requires the formulation of a hierarchy of newsworthiness, based on issues’ appeal to
the largest possible audience of both male and females readers. Thus, the hierarchy of
newsworthiness was an a priori construction, consistent with the requirements of
profit maximization. As early as the late 1970s, Elliott (1977) claimed that media
4
A study conducted among British and German journalists found differences between men and
women. In addition, the otherness reported in England (women expressed a greater desire to help and
advise others) differed from those reported in German (women expressed greater openness to new
ideas) (Van Zoonen, 1994).


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