Explaining the Gender Gap in News Avoidance: “News-Is-for-Men” Perceptions and the Burdens of Caretaking

Benjamin Toff, Ruth A. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Even in wealthy post-industrial countries where equity between men and women has improved in recent years, women are still significantly more likely than men to say they avoid the news, a gender gap that has important implications for political participation. This article employs a qualitative, inductive approach to examine the how and why behind the gender gap in news consumption. Using in-depth interviews with 43 working- and middle-class individuals in the United Kingdom who say they rarely or never access conventional news sources, we find that decisions around when and whether to engage with news are (1) often viewed through a gendered lens, which we call “news-is-for-men” perceptions, and (2) subject to structural inequalities that shape people's everyday media consumption habits. These include both gender-based divisions of labor in the consumption of news within households and the physical and emotional burdens of caretaking responsibilities, which fall predominantly on women and can interfere with staying up-to-date with news. We argue that efforts to close the gender gap that fail to address both of these entrenched underlying causes are unlikely to succeed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1579
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume20
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from Google UK as part of the Digital News Initiative (CTR00220). We thank the staff of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, especially the Institute's Director of the Reuters Institute, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, for their support with this project.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from Google UK as part of the Digital News Initiative (CTR00220).

Keywords

  • Gender
  • caretaking
  • gender socialization
  • in-depth interviews
  • news avoidance
  • news consumption
  • political participation
  • qualitative audience research

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