open access

Abstract

Women have traditionally been defined in journalistic studies as the ‘unaccessed voice group’ due to their underrepresentation in most media coverage, a fact commonly described in linguistics as ‘symbolic annihilation’ (Caldas-Coulthard 2002; Armstrong 2004). Although many scholars state that linguistic stereotypes have been weakening over time, there is a prevailing view that women are still experiencing linguistic discrimination in the age of digital storytelling. This paper discusses gender inequality by means of an in-depth study of females as sources of information in newspaper discourse, based on a corpus of 68 online news items published in four broadsheet British and Spanish newspapers: The Times, The Guardian, El Mundo and El País. The research mainly focuses on the possible relation between the gender of the source and that of the news reporter, as well as the tendencies in the depiction of female sources in reporting segments. The analysis reveals a continuing underrepresentation of women, though less noticeable in the Spanish news group. Contrary to possible expectations, both corpora coincide in defining female sources on a professional basis. The results also suggest that the predominance of male sources of information, rather than being tied to the ‘familiarity’ criterion, is institutionally biased.