Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper traces the increasing prominence of women in the White House press corps over the latter half of the 20th century, and considers how this trend toward greater gender balance has impacted the questioning of presidents. Modest gender differences are documented in the topical content of questions, with women journalists slightly favoring domestic policy and private-sphere topics relative to men. More substantial differences are documented in aggressiveness, with women journalists asking more adversarial questions, and more assertive questions at least in the earlier years of the sampling period. The topical content differences are broadly aligned with traditional conceptions of gender, but the stronger differences in aggressiveness run contrary to such conceptions.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alfahad, Abdulrahman
    2015 “Aggressiveness and Deference in Arabic Broadcast News Interviews.” Journal of Pragmatics88: 58–72. 10.1016/j.pragma.2015.08.009
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2015.08.009 [Google Scholar]
  2. Armstrong, C. L.
    2004 “The Influence of Reporter Gender on Source Selection in Newspaper Stories.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly81(1): 139–154. 10.1177/107769900408100110
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900408100110 [Google Scholar]
  3. Beam, R. A., & Di Cicco, D. T.
    2010 “When Women Run the Newsroom: Management Change, Gender, and the News.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly87(2): 393–411. 10.1177/107769901008700211
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107769901008700211 [Google Scholar]
  4. Benson, Rodney
    2004 “Bringing the Sociology of Media Back In.” Political Communication21(3): 275–292. 10.1080/10584600490481299
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600490481299 [Google Scholar]
  5. Cann, David J. and Philip B. Mohr
    2001 “Journalist and Source Gender in Australian Television News.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media45(1): 162–174. 10.1207/s15506878jobem4501_10
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15506878jobem4501_10 [Google Scholar]
  6. Clayman, Steven E., Marc N. Elliott, John Heritage, and Laurie McDonald
    2006 “Historical Trends in Questioning Presidents 1953–2000.“ Presidential Studies Quarterly36: 561–583. 10.1111/j.1741‑5705.2006.02568.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5705.2006.02568.x [Google Scholar]
  7. Clayman, Steven E., John Heritage, Marc N. Elliott, and Laurie McDonald
    2007 “When Does the Watchdog Bark?: Conditions of Aggressive Questioning in Presidential News Conferences.” American Sociological Review72: 23–41. 10.1177/000312240707200102
    https://doi.org/10.1177/000312240707200102 [Google Scholar]
  8. Clayman, Steven E., Marc Elliott, John Heritage, Megan Beckett
    2010 “A Watershed in White House Journalism: Explaining the Post-1968 Rise of Aggressive Presidential News.” Political Communication27: 229–247. 10.1080/10584609.2010.496712
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2010.496712 [Google Scholar]
  9. 2012 “The President’s Questioners: Consequential Attributes of the White House Press Corps.” The International Journal of Press/Politics17(1): 100–121. 10.1177/1940161211420867
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161211420867 [Google Scholar]
  10. Clayman, Steven E.
    2017 “The Micropolitics of Legitimacy: Political Position-Taking and Journalistic Scrutiny at the Boundary of the Mainstream.” Social Psychology Quarterly80(1): 41–64. 10.1177/0190272516667705
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0190272516667705 [Google Scholar]
  11. Correa, T., & Harp, D.
    2011 “Women Matter in Newsrooms: How Power and Critical Mass Relate to the Coverage of the HPV Vaccine.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly88(2): 301–319. 10.1177/107769901108800205
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107769901108800205 [Google Scholar]
  12. Craft, S., & Wanta, W.
    2004 “Women in the Newsroom: Influences of Female Editors and Reporters on the News Agenda.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly81(1): 124–138. 10.1177/107769900408100109
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900408100109 [Google Scholar]
  13. D’Alessio, Dave and Mike Allen
    2000 “Media Bias in Presidential Elections: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Communication50: 133–156. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2000.tb02866.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02866.x [Google Scholar]
  14. Desmond, R. & A. Danilewicz
    2010 “Women Are On, But Not In, the News: Gender Roles in Local Television News.” Sex Roles62: 822–829. 10.1007/s11199‑009‑9686‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9686-5 [Google Scholar]
  15. Ekström, Mats, Göran Eriksson, Bengt Johansson, and Patrik Wikström
    2013 “Biased Interrogations? A Multi-Methodological Approach on Bias in Election Campaign Interviews.” Journalism Studies14(3): 423–439. 10.1080/1461670X.2012.689488
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2012.689488 [Google Scholar]
  16. Ekström, Mats and Marianna Patrona
    2011Talking Politics in Broadcast Media: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Political Interviewing, Journalism, and Accountability. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/dapsac.42
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.42 [Google Scholar]
  17. Gilligan, Carol
    1993In a Different Voice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Goffman, Erving
    1977 “The Arrangement Between the Sexes,” Theory and Society4(3): 301–331. 10.1007/BF00206983
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00206983 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hanitzsch, T., & Hanusch, F.
    2012 “Does gender determine journalists’ professional views? A reassessment based on cross-national evidence.” European Journal of Communication27(3): 257–277. 10.1177/0267323112454804
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323112454804 [Google Scholar]
  20. Heritage, John
    2002 “The Limits of Questioning: Negative Interrogatives and Hostile Question Content.” Journal of Pragmatics34: 1427–1446. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00072‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00072-3 [Google Scholar]
  21. Heritage, John and Steven E. Clayman
    2013 “The Changing Tenor of Questioning Over Time: Tracking a Question Form Across U.S. Presidential News Conferences 1953–2000.” InMarcel Broersma, Bas den Herder, and Birte Schohaus (eds.) The Changing Dynamics Between Journalists and Sources, special issue of Journalism Practice7(4): 481–501.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Higgins, Michael
    2010 “The “Public Inquisitor” As Media Celebrity.” Cultural Politics6(1): 93–110. 10.2752/175174310X12549254318863
    https://doi.org/10.2752/175174310X12549254318863 [Google Scholar]
  23. Hochschild, Arlie
    1973 “A Review of Sex Role Research.” American Journal of Sociology78: 1011–1029. 10.1086/225418
    https://doi.org/10.1086/225418 [Google Scholar]
  24. Huls, Erica and Jasper Varwijk
    2011 “Political Bias in TV Interviews,” Discourse and Society22(1): 48–65. 10.1177/0957926510382836
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926510382836 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss
    1976 “The Impact of Hierarchical Structures on the Work Behavior of Women and Men.” Social Problems23(4): 415–430. 10.2307/799852
    https://doi.org/10.2307/799852 [Google Scholar]
  26. Komarovsky, Mirra
    1950 “Functional Analysis of Sex Roles.” American Sociological Review15(4): 508–516. 10.2307/2087310
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2087310 [Google Scholar]
  27. Meeks, Lindsey
    2013 “He Wrote, She Wrote: Journalist Gender, Political Office, and Campaign News.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly90(1): 58–74. 10.1177/1077699012468695
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699012468695 [Google Scholar]
  28. 2017 “Thank You, Mr. President: Journalist Gender in Presidential News Conferences.” International Journal of Communication11: 2411–2430.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. 2018 “Questioning the President: Examining Gender in the White House Press Corps.” Journalism19(4): 519–535. 10.1177/1464884916669737
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916669737 [Google Scholar]
  30. Schudson, Michael
    1994 “Question Authority: A History of the News Interview in American Journalism, 1860s–1930s.” Media, Culture, and Society16(4): 565–587. 10.1177/016344379401600403
    https://doi.org/10.1177/016344379401600403 [Google Scholar]
  31. 2000 “The Sociology of News Production Revisited (Again).” Mass Media and Society3: 175–200.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Sherman, Susan R. and Aaron Rosenblatt
    1984 “Women Physicians as Teachers, Administrators, and Researchers in Medical and Surgical Specialities: Kanter Versus “Avis” As Competing Hypotheses.” Sex Roles11(3–4): 203–209. 10.1007/BF00287514
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287514 [Google Scholar]
  33. Stahl, Leslie
    1999Reporting Live. New York: Simon and Schuster.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Tolson, Andrew
    2012 ““You’ll need a miracle to win this election” (J. Paxman 2005): Interviewer Assertiveness in U.K. General Elections 1983–2010.” Discourse, Context, and Media1: 45–53. 10.1016/j.dcm.2012.05.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2012.05.003 [Google Scholar]
  35. Weaver, David H., Lars Willnat, and G. Cleveland Wilhoit
    2019 “The American Journalist in the Digital Age: Another Look at U.S. News People.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly96(1): 101–130. 10.1177/1077699018778242
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699018778242 [Google Scholar]
  36. West, Candace and Don H. Zimmerman
    1987 “Doing Gender.” Gender & Society1(2): 125–151. 10.1177/0891243287001002002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243287001002002 [Google Scholar]
  37. Williams, Bruce A. and Michael X. Delli Carpini
    2011After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511846366
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511846366 [Google Scholar]
  38. Zeldes, Geri Alumit and Frederick Fico
    2005 “Race and Gender: An Analysis of Sources and Reporters in the Networks’ Coverage of the 2000 Presidential Campaign.” Mass Communication and Society8(4): 373–385. 10.1207/s15327825mcs0804_5
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327825mcs0804_5 [Google Scholar]
  39. Zeldes, Geri Alumit, Frederick Fico, and Arvind Diddi
    2007 “Race and Gender: An Analysis of the Sources and Reporters in Local Television Coverage of the 2002 Michigan Gubernatorial Campaign.” Mass Communication and Society10(3): 345–363. 10.1080/15205430701407405
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15205430701407405 [Google Scholar]
  40. Zhang, Di and Pamela J. Shoemaker
    2014 “Foreign Reporters’ Aggressiveness and Chinese Officials’ Openness at News Conferences: Influences on Foreign Media Coverage of the Chinese Government.” Chinese Journal of Communication7(1): 106–125. 10.1080/17544750.2013.844191
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17544750.2013.844191 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error