Leeds Business School

New Research Study reveals the 1970s Culture of UKs Newsrooms

A new study on women in journalism that Carmen Bruegmann and I conducted based on 20 qualitative interviews with women journalists working in the press, shows a disturbing culture of UK newsrooms, which resembles a culture of the 1970s.

The Key Result of Women in Jorurnalism study

We interviewed 20 women, 10 journalists and 10 editors, and asked them a variety of questions on their feelings and perceptions of UK newsrooms, everyday realities of working in the UK press, and also questions on the office culture and leadership.

Results show that while the number of women in UK journalism has increased and some things have changed, the culture of newsrooms still resembles a feeling of the 1970s with newsrooms being seen as masculine and all women being expected to demonstrate laddish behaviour, toughness and lack of emotion.

Interviewed women, thus, reported sexism, sexual harassment, masculine expectations in regards to newsgathering processes and everyday work expectations, fear of becoming pregnant because of dismissal they would face from their male editors, fear of losing their position if they get pregnant, as well as an expectation that journalist will not have a private life. This is manifested in long work hours, no holidays and due to the rise of social media a sense of constant working.

The newsroom culture is centred around masculine banter (work and sports) except in a few newsrooms where they are more than one or two women, which then changes the nature of social interactions and banter.

Women say they prefer to work with other women, and this particularly applies to those who had a more feminine socialisation when they were growing up. Those who report being tomboys express no preference for social interactions.

Women editors also do not express preferences towards working with any gender, however, a few that did express a preference stated they prefer women because they are ‘easier to work with’.

The full report can be found at this link.

Dr Martina Topic

Reader / Leeds Business School

Dr Martina Topić is a behavioural sociologist and communications scholar studying wicked problems of social inequity historically and at present, she is a Reader at Leeds Business School.

More from the blog

All blogs