All the Resistance That's Fit to Print: Canadian Women Print Journalists Narrate Their Careers




Smith, Vivian

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Canadian women print journalists both protest against and acquiesce to the patriarchal culture of newspapering in their daily work. Utilizing narrative analysis and the feminist theory of intersectionality, this dissertation argues that other social characteristics interact with gender as practitioners negotiate the multiple hegemonies of their workplace, and that the impacts of these characteristics change over time. The purpose of the qualitative study was to do fieldwork needed to respond to scholarly uncertainty about journalists’ individual motivations on the job and their perceived impact on the socio-political agenda. Individual interviews and focus groups were conducted over 2010-2011. Participants included 26 Canadian women print journalists in five newspapers across Canada, as well as one former journalist, now an academic. Key generational differences appeared when participants’ stories were examined with age and gender intersecting as an organizing theme. Senior participants tended to see themselves as lucky survivors in frustratingly gendered newsrooms; those in mid-career were self-sacrificing, hard workers who needed, but were not getting, workplace flexibility; and the most junior ones presented themselves as individual strategists, capable of handling whatever routine injustices were thrown at them. They wanted to stay in the business long enough to “choose” between careers and parenthood, with technological proficiency as a lifeline. Participants’ narratives revealed how the most senior tended to combine their multiple identities and externalities into a coherent whole, while younger participants experimented with and exploited aspects of their complex identities and larger societal influences to survive in a high-stress, gendered environment. This study produces evidence that the participants’ career paths are influenced in fluid and often hidden ways by other characteristics as they intersect with gender. Assumptions about these characteristics, such as age, race, parenthood status and class, further complicate the shaping of participants’ experiences in their workplaces, offering them other possible positions from which to either reinforce or resist the newsroom culture. The participants take up navigating these confused seas in ways that often leave them frustrated and angry, but ultimately most say they feel they make a difference in the socio-political agenda because of their complex identities and as voices for those deemed “voiceless.”



journalism, communications, media, narrative analysis, Canadian newspapers, intersectionality, women journalists, feminist media analysis, qualitative analysis, newsroom as workplace, gender studies, women's studies