Is Gender a Driver of Topic Choice? A Comparative Keyword Analysis of Political Cable News Interviews


  •  Mariasophia Falcone    
  •  Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli    

Abstract

Cable news networks have become an increasingly important source of political news in the United States. They wield considerable influence on public opinion, particularly in relation to current issues involving social roles and gender dynamics. This study offers insights into how the choice of topic in political cable news interviews may be influenced by the gender of participants. A corpus of 40 political cable news interviews was compiled and analyzed on the basis of various combinations of male and female interviewers and interviewees. Corpus software was implemented to extract keywords that were then grouped to identify prominent topics according to gender. Topics discussed exclusively among male participants were more issue oriented (i.e., immigration, healthcare, the economy, and gun control) as compared to those discussed exclusively among female participants that were more in social nature (i.e., personal matters, the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination, and tech giants in the context of social justice). Results showed that topics emerging from the female participants’ discourse were aligned with some widely held perceptions of women’s speech. At the same time, other features of the female participants’ speech appeared to be driven largely by their professional and institutional roles, and thus, not aligned with stereotypical perceptions. The findings have implications for the role of media and cable news in contemporary American society in avoiding the perpetration of gender-related topic bias.



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