Linguistic sexism and the use of non-standard alternatives to it have been attentively studied by critical feminist linguists across different languages, countries, and institutions. Among the latter, media institutions have been considered to play an influential role in people’s use of language during processes of sociolinguistic change. In the current Argentinian context, particularly, news media have considerably discussed and used nonstandard alternatives to the sexist features of Spanish language in the past year. Despite the non-standard uses of Spanish language that journalists make, prior studies on news language have often overlooked journalists’ views of their linguistic practices and explained these by giving privileged attention to the influence of pressures from news organizations and audiences’ expectations. This study moved beyond previous analysis of news texts and style guides to understand the factors influencing journalists’ linguistic practices by combining the analysis of news articles with an ethnographic approach to conducting interviews with their authors and fieldwork. The results of this study challenge ideas of journalists as, per default, preservers of standard language and reveal how interviewees alternately employ three types of linguistic varieties when mentioning human referents. Moreover, they actively engage in their linguistic practices through self-conscious considerations, individual beliefs and group discussions. This research also questions the ideas of mediacentric perspectives which have focused on official socialization practices, journalistic values and audiences’ requirements as factors influencing journalists’ linguistic practices. Instead, it indicates that news practitioners’ linguistic practices regarding the use of non-sexist language are influenced by several other factors as well. Among these, journalists’ intentions and their views of what non-standard language is useful for partly determine the predominant use of one variety or another. Furthermore, the relations that news practitioners establish among them and with other groups motivate certain linguistic choices and journalists' questioning of their own language practices. Journalists, as social actors, engage in conversations with activists and in unofficial socialization dynamics which influence their linguistic practices. By observing the interplay of factors influencing journalists’ deliberate linguistic practices, this study supports the perception of news practitioners as active agents who engage in their linguistic practices with meaningful reasons for using different linguistic varieties. Moreover, it encourages the further study of journalists' linguistic practices in relation to non-sexist language across broader scopes of journalists in terms of the type of topics they write about, the type of newspaper at which they work, and their broader socioeconomic context.

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Awad, I.
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Fried, Mariana. (2019, June 26). Journalism and sociolinguistic change The use of non-sexist language in Argentinian news media. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from