News of Wednesday 20th September: Hema introduces gender neutral clothing for children. Soon, they will eliminate all labels for girls and boys clothing and replace it with a ‘kids’ label. A good thing for some, negative remarks by others, but why is this news in the first place?
Recently there have been multiple articles about gender neutrality and even a hype concerning the gender neutral messages from NS. The move from Hema seems to be in line with this. More important, the news around it is in line with previous articles about gender neutrality and thus follows the continuity factor of Galtung and Ruge (1965), as well as the follow-up value of Harcup and O’Neill (2001) in some sense. Because of the same previous articles and the trend concerning gender, the relevance (factor 8 of Harcup and O’Neill (2001)) is in effect as well.
Those are not the only factors in play. Hema is a big player on the market, making it a power elite (Harcup & O’Neill, 2001), following a move of another power elite, John Lewis, a warehouse in Great-Britain, which could also be ranked as an elite nation. Would this have been news if it would have been the shop around the corner announcing gender neutral clothes?
Next we have the factor of being good news, or bad depending on the viewpoint, and that of composition. In Volkskrant, where it was originally published, the article comes directly after some serious and ‘heavy’ pieces about government. The Hema article seems to be a perfect article to alter the serious and lighter news here.
Plenty of news values are in present, making it seem like the hypothesis of Galtung and Ruge (1965) is in place here: the more news values present, the news worthier the item.
Galtung, Johan and Mari Holmboe Ruge. “The Structure of Foreign News” Journal of Peace Research 2.1 (1965): 64-91
Harcup, Tony and Deirdre O’Neill. “What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited.” Journalism Studies 2:2 (2001): 261-280