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Feminine Writing: The Effect of Gender on the Work of Women Sports Journalists in the Swiss Daily Press

This study investigates the specificity of women sports journalists’ writing in the context of the French-speaking Swiss daily press. By analysing their working practices (observations and interviews) and their output (content analysis), it shows that women sports journalists do not adopt the customary professional norms of this journalistic speciality. Their ‘feminine’ writing is characterized by an interest in soft news and ‘human’ perspective which is different from the usual treatment of sports news, focused on facts and technical analysis, developed by the large majority of their male colleagues. It takes place within structural mechanisms – particularly modes of recruitment, gender division of labour, the acknowledgement of skills and the organizational mechanisms within sports newsrooms – as well as daily interactions in the workplace and the taste of women journalists. Women journalists employ a subversive strategy and play with the stereotypical images of their professional competences. However, the way they exercise their profession contributes to the definition of masculine and feminine journalistic values and practices and to the maintenance of the existing gender order in sports journalism.