Tagged: Elon University

Breaking News: Deconstructing Entertainment Journalism

It’s truly remarkable how much focus the media places on women’s bodies. Glance quickly through the tabloids in the grocery checkout aisle and you’ll glimpse a quick overview of which women in Hollywood gained weight, lost weight, made a fashion misstep or looked fantastic. At first, it may seem like harmless media fluff. But if you’re not paying attention, you may not be aware of the impact these headlines make on your consciousness.


Image courtesy of Erin Valentine + Ashley McGetrick

Unsatisfied with this lack of awareness, Elon University students Erin Valentine and Ashley McGetrick set out to highlight the problem and demand change. Their project, Breaking News: Deconstructing Entertainment Journalism, started as a class assignment but evolved into something much bigger. The pair took several headlines from popular media outlets and modified them with a feminist bent. They then asked study participants to take a pretest, compare the headlines, and take a subsequent post-test to gauge how the headlines impacted their opinions.


Image courtesy of Erin Valentine + Ashley McGetrick

The pretest collects information about subjects’ age and gender demographics, how frequently they consume entertainment journalism, and what concerns they have about this type of media. Once the test is over, it’s time to view the images. The “before” selections focus exclusively on post-baby bodies, outfits, weight loss, and overall “hotness.” (I’ll let you guess which one led me to laugh aloud.) Each “before” headline comes paired with an “after” designed by Valentine and McGetrick. Finally, the post-test asks subjects to reflect on how annoyed their were with the headlines and if it will reflect how they consume media in the future.



Image courtesy of Erin Valentine + Ashley McGetrick

A key tenant of the project center’s around media consumers’ ability to vote with their wallets. If a market shows no interest in sexist headlines, there’s no reason to perpetuate them. By supporting media sources that produce well-rounded, complex reporting, consumers send a message that sexism in media will not be tolerated. One person’s choice may feel like a negligible ripple in a large pond, but as more people become aware, the ability to make waves increases.

Want to participate? Take the test and let Erin and Ashley know that you support their research.