The rules of the (leadership) game: Gender, politics and news

Karen Ross, Margie Comrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The abiding interest of researchers to explore the nature of political communication continues to provoke lively debates about who controls the moveable feast of the news agenda – politicians or journalists. This article argues that despite journalistic claims of impartiality, a careful, multilayered analysis of print and broadcast news of a general election (New Zealand, 2008) and, more specifically, reportage about the leaders of the Labour Party (Helen Clark) and National Party (John Key) demonstrates clear bias against the long-serving (older female) incumbent in favour of the (younger male) challenger. This bias is manifest in several ways, including the visibility of the two leaders measured by column inches, their uses as quoted sources and the tone and tenor of reportage. Whilst we found few examples of explicitly sexist commentary, there were numerous ways in Clark’s personal attributes, including her sex and age, were slyly used to undermine her continued suitability for the top job.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-984
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


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