Representation of News Sources' Gender in Climate Change Reporting in Pakistani Press
Rashid Ali Khuhro1, Hamedi Mohd Adnan2*, Mohsin Hassan Khan2, Zaffar Iqbal Junejo3 and Haifa
1The Center for Rural Development Communication, University of Sindh, Jamshoro 76080, Pakistan
2Media and Communication Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
3Department of History, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
4Media and Communication Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Seri Kembangan, Selangor, Malaysia
- *Corresponding Author:
- Hamedi Mohd Adnan
Media and Communication Studies
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603
Received date: July 17, 2019 Accepted date: August 05, 2019 Published date: August 13, 2019
Citation: Khuhro RA, Adnan HM, Khan MH, Junejo ZI, Aljiuaid H. Representation of News Sources’ Gender in Climate Change Reporting in Pakistani
Press. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:33.
Copyright: © 2019 Khuhro RA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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The news stories’ formations and structures are based on solid reliable sources. The diverse news sources create different shades of perspectives; thus, news stories’ credibility is enhanced. The global studies have found that primary sources used in all sorts of news media are mostly official/government and elite. Journalists and media organizations compromise non-elite or marginalized sources. Furthermore, a few studies have explored gender as a source of news stories and concluded that female sources are insignificantly used in the news stories. This study aims to examine the use of female sources in climate change reporting in Pakistani Press. In this longitudinal study, the quantitative content analysis method is used. The data is collected from three highly circulated dailies issued in the different languages,’ namely Dawn (English), Jang (Urdu) and Kawish (Sindhi). The study has applied the systematic random sampling, and it is based on five significant global climate change events. These are Earth Summit (1992), Rio de Janerio, Kyoto Protocol (1997), Ratification of KyotoProtocol Globally (2005), COP15 (2009) Copenhagen and COP21 (2015) Paris. The findings show that in Pakistani Press use of female sources in climate change reporting at these five significant events was rare. This study recommends that studies of similar nature, extended to coverage of other societal issued should be conducted to know the application of female sources in the reporting.
News Sources; Climate change; Gender
sources; Dawn; Jang; Kawish
The news stories formation and structure are based on
reliable sources. One of the lead categories among an extensive list of the sources are the subjects from whom journalists get an
opinion, quote them, and build perspective about a specific
news item or event . Thus, journalists are induced to come
into contact with them as the witness or even gather facts .
The reason for doing so is the non-acceptance of the journalists’
own opinion in the reporting. However, induction of journalists
own opinion is treated against ethics . Additionally, the
inclusion of diverse sources makes stories significant in the eyes
of readers, listeners, and audience .
Further, previous studies suggest that journalists rely on
official/government/elite sources studies [5-15]. The authority,
trustworthiness, accessibility, and allied traits support elite
sources in getting attention from the media, and it is also
reciprocal for the journalists . Consequently, citizen or
marginalized sources become less priority for journalists and
their organizations . Many scholars have examined the
representation of gender in the news sources and revealed that
often reporters and media houses rely on male sources. The
female sources are neglected and underrepresented [18-20].
The purpose of this study is to examine the gender
representation of sources in climate change reporting of
Pakistani Press during five significant global climate change
events such as Earth Summit Rio de Janerio (1992), Kyoto
Protocol (1997), Global Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005),
COP15 (2009), Copenhagen and COP21 (2015), Paris, France.
Objectives and Research Questions
The primary objective of this study is to examine the gender
representation of sources in climate change reporting in
Pakistani Press. However specific objectives are a) determination
of the representation of gender in climate change reporting in
Pakistani Press; b) comparing the gender representation of
sources in newspapers of different languages i.e., Dawn, Jang
and Kawish and, c) comparing the representation of sources’ gender during significant global climate change events i.e., Earth
Summit Rio de Janerio (1992), Kyoto Protocol (1997), Global
Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005), COP15 (2009),
Copenhagen and COP21 (2015), Paris, France.
Further, this study would analyze the specific research
question such as (i) Which gender has been prioritized in the
climate change coverage of Pakistani Press? (ii) Is there any
difference of gender representation of sources in climate change
reporting among newspaper of different language, i.e., Dawn
(English), Jang (Urdu) and Kawish (Sindhi)? (iii) Does difference
of gender representation of sources in climate change reporting
during significant global climate change events, i.e., Earth
Summit Rio de Janerio (1992), Kyoto Protocol (1997), Global
Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005), COP15 (2009),
Copenhagen and COP21 (2015), Paris, France exist?
Gans calls sources as the ‘actors whom journalists observe or
interview, including... those who are quoted... and those who
only supply background information or story suggestions . For
gathering facts for the stories, the reporters contact with
witnesses of the events and experts . It is done to gain
impartiality in the news  because the inclusion of the
reporter's version in the story makes it partial .
The diverse sources provide various perspectives to the news
stories and make them credible and reliable in the eyes of
readers and audience. In the context of usage of diverse sources
in the news stories, Napoli calls it ‘marketplace of ideas’ means
to give readers and audience information about happening from
different perspectives . Though, the practice of diverse
sources increases the importance of the stories. The selection of
sources affects the perception of readers about the story .
News sources become helpful to define the form of a news story
. The sources influence the framing of social problems and
impacts on public and policy agenda about the same . The
variation in news sources about environment and health issues
plays a crucial role to communicate with the public about risk.
The studies around the globe have found that primary sources
used in all sorts of news media are official/government and elite
. The scholars have examined and concluded that the
majority of news sources in the news content in the global
media are official/government/elite sources. The researchers
examine that news stories are dominated by institutional
sources [24,25]. It is the outcome of journalists and government
officials ’ engagement . In many studies [5-15], it is elite
source that dominates the news content. The traits like
authority, trustworthiness, accessibility make it easier for elite
sources to get attention from the media .
The journalists and media organization compromise the nonelite
or marginalized sources. The non-elite sources category is
the second potential type of news sources. It is also called the
marginalized sources by the scholars. In a study, Gandy criticized
that journalists are dependent on elite sources and pay undue
attention towards the non-elite sources . The scholars say
that there is significant variation between the use of the elite
and non-elite sources in the news content .
Regarding the scope of sources, there are specific patterns
structured by the journalists that who should be a news source,
it unpacks, who has power and who is marginal, who has power
and who is under dominance, who is to be reliable and who is
dubious, and who is suitable and who is nonstandard .
However, the female sources are considered as marginalized and
powerless. Ross and Carter call it an impact of premeditated
conditions created by the media structure, editorial privileges
. On the other hand, practicing female journalists do not
have access to what their male counterparts have, thus
involuntarily females fall into “secondary status.” Shor et al. also
discusses that the news room’s gender preferences factors also
pay to gender discrimination in the news . In another study,
Johnstonbaugh revealed that ‘ structural gender inequality ’
remains to be augmented through equal underrepresentation in
the media, and the structural inequality between male and
female . The media houses formed structures such as the
standing committees, lists of seniority, and committee members
about the media reporting also exclude the females. Resultantly,
female sources get less attention from journalists and media
Further, a few studies have explored the gender of sources
and revealed that female sources are underrepresented in the
news stories [18-20,31-37]. In a study about the Television’s
political news stories regarding five democratic elections
1994-2014 in South Africa, Jones showed that male and female
sources are 60 and 40 percent, respectively . In another
study about structural features of the depiction of female in the
Norwegian media, Sjøvaag, Pedersen state that local and less
circulated newspapers give better coverage to females’ opinions
. Nevertheless, Dan, Iorgoveanu revealed that women are
featured less in broadsheets and more in tabloid newspapers
. The feminine appearance comes more in soft and light
stories than in hard news . According to Mudrick, Burton,
Lin, no doubt women have better positions in sports and sports
journalism, but still, females continue to be underrepresented in
sports media Additional, females who have detained spots in
sports media are frequently supposed as being less reliable than
males in the same field .
According to the observation Aalberg, Van Aelst, Curran,
women politicians look less for coverage in comparison to men
. The quotation of women is rephrased, while media
presents direct quotes of men . Further, Devitt 
elaborates that media presents personalized images of women
except for their politics and presents more scandals in compare
of the men. Most often, their stereotypical images are depicted
. Tuchman called this underrepresentation of women in the
media as “symbolic annihilation” .
Following the GMMP 20 years mapping study about women’s
prominence in the news, Ross, Boyle, Carter, and Ging concluded
that the relationship of women to media continues to be
complicated, occasionally presentation advances over time and
occasionally a cutback, identifying differences in females ’
practices of news media between genre and geography,
between medium and mode . While the data largely echo
the European and global GMMP trends in demonstrating that
the presence of women in news media in total has increased since the first GMMP in 1995, the study also pinpoints that
women are now less present in specific categories of news (for
example, politics) and certain media (for example, radio) than in
2010. Further, Shor, van de Rijt, Ward, Blank-Gomel, and Skiena
has given a historical perspective of gender representation in
news media since 1880 in thirteen daily newspapers . The
study elaborates that female sources ’ representation in the
news remained comparatively low. It raised a little bit during
1930 and modestly updated during current decades. In a largescale
data-driven study about gender representation in words
and images in English language Jia, Lansdall-Welfare, Sudhahar,
Carter, and Cristianini concluded that males get better
representation than women both in words and images .
Though, previous studies suggested that females probably
less appear in comparison to males in the news media .
Women are significantly underrepresented in the media in overall
and in the print media in specifically [33-37]. Thus, the
purpose of this study is to examine the gender representation of
sources in climate change reporting of Pakistani Press during five
significant global climate change events such as Earth Summit
Rio de Janerio (1992), Kyoto Protocol (1997), Global Ratification
of Kyoto Protocol (2005), COP15 (2009), Copenhagen and COP21
(2015), Paris, France.
In this longitudinal study, quantitative content analysis
technique is used to collect data from highly circulated diverse
languages newspapers such as Dawn (English), Jang (Urdu) and
Kawish (Sindhi). The study has inquired and confirmed
circulation figures from their offices. The Dawn was initiated by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was the founder of Pakistan. It is
one of the oldest and popular English newspaper having a
circulation of more than eighty thousand.
Further, Jang, it is an Urdu language newspaper, it is one the
oldest and highly circulated Urdu newspaper with a circulation
of more than 0.8 million copies. The Dawn and Jang are
mainstream national newspapers. However, Kawish is one of the
highest circulated regional newspapers published in the Sindhi
language; it has more than one hundred thousand circulations
The systematic random sampling was adopted by the
researchers to select each alternate day of newspapers – modus
operandi was to pick up the newspapers one month before and
one month later - after the happening of the climate change
events such as Earth Summit Rio de Janerio (1992), Kyoto
Protocol (1997), Global Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005),
COP15 (2009), Copenhagen and COP21 (2015), Paris, France.
The researchers developed a coding sheet and engaged
coders for manual processing. The coders were trained, and
inter-coder reliability measured with Cohen Kappa. The interreliability
for all items present in the coding sheet amid both
coders remained between 80 to 100.
The present study has examined the representation of
sources’ gender in climate change reporting in Pakistani Press
during five significant global climate change events. Table 1 shows the diversity of sources; it reveals that 324 climate change
stories in Pakistani Press reported during these five events. (2.60%) and Skeptics 29 (1.93%). Thus, the portrayed result
reveals that officials/government/elite sources - the Federal,
Provincial and Local Government Officials, Environmental
Interest Groups, NGOs, Politician/Political Party, Educational or
Research Institution, Business Interest Groups, Skeptics -
represented the higher proportion in the climate change news
stories in Pakistani Press. The entire amount of all official/
government/elite sources showed that total 960 (64.08%)
mentions are found in the three newspapers i.e., Dawn, Jang
and Kawish during the five-significant climate change-related
events such as Earth Summit (1992), Rio de Janrio,
KyotoProtocol (1997), Kyoto, Japan, Global Kyoto Protocol Ratification (2005), COP15 (2009) Copenhagen and COP21
(2015), Paris, France. Although, this study found another
important finding that individually the higher number of sources
mentions are about the Climate Change-Related Event/Incident,
which is 288 (19.24%) of total 1498 sources mentions. However,
the number of Citizens sources, which is also called the
marginalized sources found is 133 (8.87%) only. It is a meager
number in comparison to official/government/elite sources.
Thus, findings revealed that official/government/elite sources
are primary sources in the climate change reporting in Pakistani
Table 1: Diversity of Sources Found in Climate Change Reporting in Pakistani Press.
|Climate Change Related Event/Incident
|Federal, Provincial and Local Government Officials
|Environmental Interest Groups
|Educational or Research Institution
|Business Interest Groups
Table 2 reveals findings of the RO (i) RQ (i) that which gender
dominates in the climate change reporting in Pakistani Press.
Though, results given in Table 3, show the frequency of different
gender sources appeared in the climate change reporting in
Pakistani Press. The results show that out of 1498 sources, 324
climate change stories are reported in Pakistani Press during the five significant events. The male genders’ sources frequency is
889 (59.3%). However, female sources appear with a frequency
of 46 (3.1%). Further, findings exhibited that male proportion is
higher with the frequency of 346 (23.1%). Furthermore, the
unspecified or undetermined sources found are 217 (14.5%).
Table 2: Gender Difference of Sources in Climate Change Reporting in Pakistani Press.
The findings given in Table 3 reveal the data about RO (ii) and
RQ (ii) to compare the representation of sources ’ gender,
according to Dawn, Jang, and Kawish. The results show that a
total of 858 sources out of 1498 are found in the 181 climate
change stories in Dawn. Though out of these 585 sources are the
male 498 (58%). Likewise, female sources are 18 (2.2%).
However, both male and female appeared together number is
202 (23.8%), and the unspecified or undetermined number is
140 (16%). The same table shows that out of total 1498 sources
are 283 are found in 68 climate change related stories in Jang.
However, out of a total of 283 sources, the main proportion is
the male sources with the representation of 176 (61.8%).
Although, the female sources are meager; it is merely 9 (2.9%) only. Nevertheless, both male-female sources came together are
44 (16.2%) and unspecified sources are also found in higher
proportion with 54 (19.1%). It shows that the majority of
sources represented in the climate change reporting in Jang are
males in comparison to female sources.
Table 3: Comparison of Gender of News Sources’ According to Newspapers.
||Gender of Source
|| 1498 (100%)
Similarly, in the above-referred table out of 1498 sources, 24
appear in climate change stories are found in Pakistani Press, out
of it 357 sources are found in 75 stories in Kawish. Likewise, out
of 357 sources, males ’ representation is 215 (60%), females
share is 19 (5.3%), and both male and female make it 100 (28%).
On the other hand, unspecified sources number is 23 (6.7%).
Table 4 shows findings of the RO (iii) and RQ (iii) that to
compare sources’ gender in Pakistani Press during the significant
climate change events. The results reveal that out of total 1498
sources found in the 324 climate change stories during five
significant events, 400 sources are found in 79 climate stories
during Earth Summit (1992), Rio de Janeiro. Though, out of total
400 sources male 218 (54.4%), female 5 (1.3%), both male and
female 66 (16.5%) and 111 (27.8%) are found during Earth
Summit (1992). The finding shows that the main proportion of
sources found represent male gender in comparison to female.
However, unspecified gender sources are also found in a
Table 4: Comparison of Gender Representation of News According to Significant Events.
|Climate Change Event
||Gender of Source
|Earth Summit (1992) (79)
|Kyoto Protocol (1997) (26)
|Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005) (65)
|COP15 (2009) (43)
|COP21 (2015) (111)
Further, out of total 127 sources found in 26 stories found
during Kyoto Protocol (1997), male 88 (69.2%), both male and
female 29 (23.1%) and unspecified 10 (7.7%) sources are
represented. However, no female source has been found during
the Kyoto Protocol (1997) in Pakistani Press.
Furthermore, Table 4 reveals that a total of 270 sources are
found in 65 climate change stories during the Ratification of the
Kyoto Protocol (2005). Though out of total 270 sources found in
Pakistani Press during Ratification of Kyoto Protocol (2005), male
sources number is 133 (49.6%), female sources representation is
12 (4.7%), both male and female make up 91 (33.8%) and
unspecified number 34 (12.3%). The female sources during this
event are also represented less in comparison to male. However,
the number of both male and female sources represented
together is significant.
Moreover, a total of 202 sources mentions is found in 43
climate change stories during COP15 (2009). Thus, out of 202
sources, male representation is 135 (67%), the females’ number
is 15 (7.4%). However, both male and female make it 38 (18.6%),
and the unspecified number is 14 (7%). The finding reveals that
the majority of the sources found during COP15 (2009) are male
gender origin in comparison to less representation of females.
Additionally, Table 4 further reveals a total of 499 sources in
111 climate change stories are found in Pakistani Press during
COP21 (2015). Though out of total 499 sources, male 315
(63.1%), female 14 (2.7%), both male and female make it 117
(23.4%), and the unspecified number is 53 (10.8%). These
findings reveal that female representation is meager again in
comparison of the male.
This study focuses on the representation of news sources’
gender in climate change reporting in Pakistani Press. The initial
result regarding the diversity of sources shows that officials/
government/elite sources such as - Federal, Provincial and Local
Government Officials, Environmental Interest Groups, NGOs,
Politician/Political Party, Educational or Research Institution,
Business Interest Groups and Skeptics - dominated the climate
change news stories in Pakistani Press, and their presence as a
group is 68.08 percent. Although, another significant finding
that Climate Change Related Event/Incident reporting as an
individual category has considerable representation, it is 19.24
percent. Hence, it is proved that official/government/elite
sources dominate in climate change reporting in Pakistani Press.
It is also an endorsement of the previous studies.
Further, in the response of RO(i) and RQ(i), findings showed
that majority of the sources mentioned in the climate change
stories in Pakistani Press are male with 59.3 percent in
comparison to female mentions with the lowest 3.1 percent.
However, the stories mentioning both male and female sources
are 23.1 percent.
In previous studies, most of the scholars have mentioned the
male and female sources ’ gender representations separately.
This study takes this credit to reveal the representation of both -
male and female - as the sources in a single study. Moreover, the
number of sources unspecified or undetermined gender stands
at 14.5 percent. This study also endorsed the findings of
previous studies that male sources dominated and female
sources are underrepresented.
Furthermore, findings of RO(ii) and RQ(ii) revealed that
majority of the sources found in the three newspapers, i.e.
Dawn (English) (58%), Jang (Urdu) (61.8%) and Kawish (60%) are
males. In comparison to male sources, the ratio of female
sources in three newspapers stands as, Dawn (English) (2.2%),
Jang (Urdu) (2.9%) and Kawish (5.3%). The proportion of male
sources found in three newspapers is more than fifty percent.
The similarity in the finding of three newspapers proved that
male sources dominated in the climate change coverage of these
newspapers. Though, the finding of the mentions of both male
and female sources together showed the sources ’ gender
representation these papers namely Dawn (23.8%), Jang (16.2%)
and Kawish (28%). There is a little bit variation in this result, but
it also shows that the ratio is less than thirty. Kawish, a Sindhi language newspaper, has taken the lead in compare to Dawn
and Jang. However, result about the unspecified gender of
sources found in Dawn, Jang and Kawish are (16%), (19.1%) and
(6.7%) respectively. There is a variation in unspecified or
undetermined sources in the three newspapers. The Jang takes
the lead in it. Resultantly, the comparison of climate change
reporting in the three-different languages’ newspapers showed
male sources’ dominance over the female sources.
In the response of RO(iii) and RQ(iii), findings showed that
sources are having male gender dominated during all five
events. On the one side, the frequency of results revealed that
during the significant events male sources’ representation was
the following Earth Summit, 1992 (54.4%), Kyoto Protocol 1997,
(69.2%), Ratification of Kyoto Protocol 2005, (49.6%), COP15
2009, (67%), COP21 2015 (63.1%). However, the female sources
are underrepresented about the Earth Summit 1992, (1.3%),
Kyoto Protocol 1997, (0%), Ratification of Kyoto Protocol 2005,
(4.7%), COP15 2009, (7.4%), COP21 2015, (2.7%) in climate
change reporting in Pakistani Press. Though, the sources
mentioning both genders male and female together during Earth
Summit, 1992 (16.6%), Kyoto Protocol 1997 (23.1%), Ratification
of Kyoto Protocol (2005 (33.8 %), COP15 2009 (18.6%), COP21
and 2015 (23.4%). However, the unspecified gender is found in
between 7 to 27.8 percent. Thus, the finding showed that male
dominated and female underrepresented in climate reporting in
Pakistani Press happened in all five significant climate change
This longitudinal quantitative content analysis study endorsed
the findings of previous international studies that official/
government/elite sources also dominate in climate change
reporting in Pakistani Press. Further, this study analyzed the
sources ’ gender difference in the sources presented in the
climate change stories published during five significant events. It
also supports the findings of former studies that male sources
dominate and female sources are underrepresented. However,
its novelty is a combination of male and female sources
representation becomes 23.1 percent.
Furthermore, in comparison of the gender representation in
three newspapers - Dawn, Jang, and Kawish - which have high
circulation also underrepresented females. Moreover, the
comparison of representation of sources’ gender during the five
significant global climate events such as Earth Summit Rio de
Janeiro 1992, Kyoto Protocol 1997, Global Ratification of Kyoto
Protocol 2005, COP15 2009, Copenhagen and COP21 2015,
Paris, France showed similar trend that male sources dominated,
and females are underrepresented. This study recommends that
studies of similar nature, extended to coverage of other societal
issues should be conducted to know the application of female
sources in the reporting.
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