All quiet on the male front. Twenty years of portrait stories in Estonian daily papers

Kristi Malmberg

The article is based on Kristi Malmberg’s 2018 MA thesis “Changes in Media Representations of Men 1996-2017“. This continued her BA thesis that compared media representations of men in 1996 and 2004. The MA thesis is based on a sample of 64 portrait stories of men published in the weekend supplements of the Eesti Päevaleht and the Postimees in 2017. The analysis employed content and discourse analysis. The results for 2017 were compared to the conclusions of Malberg’s BA thesis to discuss changes in media representations of men in the past twenty years.

In 2004 media representations of men had become softer than in 1996 when men portrayed were still represented proceeding from very conservative gender roles. There was no major change in 2017, however. On the basis of the present study, it cannot be said that there has been an important positive change in the gender stereotypes represented and recreated by the media. It is possible to trace the continuation of some processes, for ample greater emotionality in men and more talk about the family. However, the comparison of 2004 and 2017 does not show as significant a change as the comparison of 1996 and 2004. This can probably be explained by the fact that Estonia has moved from the stage of rapid developments in the 1990s into a more stable stage and this can also be seen in the slower change in social attitudes. Thus, the present MA thesis and the author’s previous research does not allow us to assume that we should expect a significant change in gender stereotypes in Estonia and, through that, also media representations of men.