Future visual coverage of U.S. women in combat : gatekeeping, hierarchy of influences, and ethic of care




Scoggin McEntee, Rebecca Ann

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Two grounded theory studies found that photo editors and producers were intent on publishing graphic photographs of women in combat at first opportunity after women are fully incorporated into U.S. Armed Forces combat units in January of 2016. However, the studies showed their hesitation upon seeing the images for the first time, and that they re-viewed their prior intentions with latent patriarchal influences. Both studies showed that concern for the audience holds such a powerful influence over editors that it deserves its own category in the extra-media level of the hierarchy of influences, rivaling other extra-media forces. The theories of gatekeeping and hierarchy of influences helped explain journalists' editing processes, with the feminist and moral theory ethic of care adding strength to the individual level of the hierarchy of influences. Interviews in the first grounded theory study included 17 visual editors and producers of various newspaper, broadcast, and online U.S. media companies. The second study included a different set of 20 editors/producers who participated in a think-aloud procedure involving photographs with graphic depictions of women in combat. While the interviewees in the first study said their intent was to treat women the same as men in their editing of graphic war photography, there was some hesitation when participants in the second study responded to the images of women in combat.



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