Voices unheard, stories untold : a qualitative content analysis of gender bias in war reporting and human rights journalism as a viable alternative

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Dierynck, Jozefien
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In a world marked by numerous conflicts and violence, war reporting plays a significant role in shaping public understanding and perceptions of, as well as reactions to, war. However, concerns have been raised about the presence of gender bias and the perpetuation of patriarchal norms within war reporting, as it perpetuates gender bias in society as a whole and has negative consequences on peacebuilding processes and approaches to human rights violations. This master’s thesis aims to uncover the presence of gender bias and the patriarchal paradigm in war reporting. By utilizing a qualitative content analysis to examine war reporting characteristics in three prominent news outlets - The Guardian, De Standaard, and Al Jazeera - this research explores the representation of women’s voices, experiences, and contributions, as well as the reinforcement or challenge of traditional gender roles and power dynamics. Additionally, the study acknowledges the significance of alternative approaches such as peace journalism and human rights journalism to get to more balanced, inclusive, ethically responsible and humane journalism that prioritises the protection of human rights in conflict situations. The analysis reveals recurring themes in war reporting. Conclusions indicate that gender bias and the patriarchal paradigm persist in war reporting, with the portrayal of women reinforcing traditional gender roles. Female agency, experiences and contributions are often overlooked and marginalised or serve to bolster patriarchal, patriotic, strategic or elitist discourse. However, some positive developments towards Peace Journalism and, to a lesser extent, Human Rights Journalism, are noted, highlighting a more people-oriented and solution-oriented approach with a focus on exposing human rights violations. Keywords: journalism, war reporting, gender bias, patriarchy, human rights, peace journalism, human rights journalism, patriarchy
Second semester University: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Awarded thesis 2022/2023
gender, journalism, armed conflict, war, patriarchy, women