The Female Role in the Media

  Sarah Wills         

In the chapter, News, Gender, and Journalism, the author, Gill, discusses the nature of how the media is rapidly changing. Nowadays, people are more interested in “gossip” stories that promote superficial, irrelevant ideas rather than worldly news. Gill also discusses the role of women in the media. Whether they are newscasters or journalists, being a woman in this industry seems almost impossible.

            One major concern with the current media trend is that people are uninterested in watching or reading important news stories. People would rather look through an article adorned with pictures, colors, and provocative headlines rather than an article on current events. Articles that discuss celebrity post-baby bodies are more intriguing to the population than political or international news. Gill points out a growing fear that news segments are being “dumbed down” in order to increase popularity among the nation. Broadcasters and writers seem to be conforming to what the people demand. In addition to shift of news coverage, the role of women is also an issue for this industry. Women news anchor are constantly in a double bind. They are either too fat or too thin; wear too much makeup or not enough, dress to provocatively or too manly. As Gill states it, women must be “one of the lads, but they are also required to deploy feminine wiles” (124). Women serve a certain purpose in the newsroom. They are not there to deliver top breaking stories, but rather they offer subtle commentaries or just eye candy for male viewers.

            Pozner’s article discusses similar topics to what Gill discussed. However, Pozner examines the effects of how women are portrayed on reality TV rather than the news. One important idea that Pozner highlights is that reality TV female personas transcend into the lives of real women. All of the cat fights, back stabbing, and irrational emotional outbursts that we watch on TV are changing how society views women in the real world. Reality TV targets women as a source of entertainment. Whether it is poking fun at the intelligence, rationality, or competency, women are the source of entertainment for millions of viewers. For example, shows such as the Bachelor or ANTM put women in situations where they are competitors against one another. Therefore, this is where the bitchiness and backstabbing comes out. Just in the very nature of these shows, it asserts that women must be enemies with one another. Then, there are different types of reality shows that portray women as being just plain dumb. One example in this chapter is the reality show, The Newly Weds. This TV series documents different scenes of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s marriage. However, the main source of entertainment was how incompetent Jessica Simpson was at being a housewife. The show will live on in infamy due to her chicken of the sea comment. These roles that women have are not empowering nor do they set good examples for positive female roles. The power of reality TV is stronger than what we think it is. The portrayal of women on these shows affects how we view women in everyday life. Boys can watch their favorite professional athlete on TV as a positive role model and emulate their behavior. However, girls should not aspire to be like Snooki from Jersey Shore or teenagers on 16 and Pregnant.

            Both of these authors highlighted the realities of the female role in the media and on TV. It is obvious that women serve a much more inferior and unimportant role than men do on TV. The female voice is not heard through news broadcasting; yet it is extremely prominent on reality TV. Rather than having an important voice on social media, women seem to mostly serve as entertainment for the general public.

3 thoughts on “The Female Role in the Media

  1. Carly Ozarowski

    After reading Gil’s article and reading your post it just makes me think about the kind of “specials” news stations often cover. For example the Olympics is more of a headline than many other current events or how the the Royal Wedding and birth were huge American news stories and specials. What I find confusing is how Barbara Walters can be a very serious and educated journalist but yet she also used to run on The View and interview celebrities and “Hot Topics” which often included sex or celebrities lives. In terms of reality competition shows, I found it interesting how women and men are portrayed so differently. As you and Pozner both touched upon women are seemingly pinned against each other. In terms of the Bachelor it is so interesting to me that so many contestants stay on the show until they get eliminated and do not eliminate themselves. Just realistically and statistically there is no way 25 women all love the same man. So the show becomes more of a competition then a story of love, especially how Pozner explains how editing and bartering are done among the producers and contestants.

  2. I really agree with you both about reality television. Carly, that’s so true: what’s the actual likelihood 25 women would all have feelings for the same man? My best friend at Conn and I always joke how when one of us talks about an attractive guy on campus, 99% of the time the other will shake her head going, “Really?” We rarely have the same taste in men.

    Also, Sophie, I was really interested in your comment about the female voice. You say that it is nowhere on the news yet extremely prominent on reality television. I would argue that the dialogue we’re hearing on reality tv doesn’t really represent these women’s voices. I remember watching “The Sing Off” with my family friends, and someone was telling us about how scripted it really is. How the camera people will keep asking the singing groups to admit “dirt” or anxiety until it really becomes a falsified perspective. It would be so interesting to see the casts of the Bachelor or the Sing Off in real life to examine how these people act without a camera pointed at them.

    Emma Weisberg

  3. I’m glad you brought up the “women are stupid” trope that is all over reality TV. I think that this particular trope also is relevant when talking about women in journalism. The first thing that came to mind when I was reading Gill’s article was Kathie Lee and Hoda. Kathie Lee and Hoda host an hour long show every morning as part of the Today show are are portrayed (I think) as being very stupid. They drink wine at 10am, dance around to pop music, and interview informants on what the best new beauty products are. The Today Show, which claims to be news and journalism, has also fallen into the entertainment trap that Gill mentions. However, I think it is Kathie Lee and Hoda especially who can be seen embodying some of the harmful tropes Pozner mentions.

    For reference:

    Gracie Hall

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