Negative image of women in media coverage of political scandals
In a room packed to the rafters, Linnaeus University political science researcher Tobias Bromander gave the first seminar of the day at the Almedalen Week, held every year on the Swedish island of Gotland. The title of the seminar was Political scandal- does it matter whether you are a man or a woman?’
There are often claims made that the news media reports on political scandals differently, depending on whether the person in focus is a man or a woman. Up until now however, there have not been any academic studies examining this quesion on a scholarly basis.
In examining this question, Tobias Bromander undertook a study of more than 4,300 articles in four newspapers covering the years 1997-2010.
His research project has been guided by three overarching questions: What are the main differences between how the news media reports on women and men in Swedish political scandals? How can we best understand these differences in media reporting? What consequences can these differences have for democracy?
One of the main conclusions in Tobias Bromander’s research is that an unfavourable picture of women is painted in political scandals. The tendency is that even small differences in news reporting are to the disadvantage of women. In individual cases however, the situation can be different.
Measured in terms of the number of newspaper articles, the research study shows that women’s scandals receive a greater attention over a longer period than controversies involving men. Men are more frequently involved in scandals but fewer articles are written about them over a shorter period of time. Furthermore it is more frequently the case that demands are made on women to resign.
Tobias Bromander rounded off the seminar by concluding that the media has a unique position in today’s society with immense power to influence our perspectives on politics and politicians. It is therefore important that the media coverage of women and men does not differ significantly.