Europe, Gender, Global, Global Geopolitics, Headlines, Human Rights

MEDIA: By the Women, On the Women

Sanjay Suri

LONDON, Jan 25 2006 (IPS) - A new survey report next month will show some of what is already known, that there is a disproportionately high profile of males both by way of the subject of news, and by way of newsroom staff. But this time action will follow the survey.

The survey will indicate also the extent of the imbalance, across regions and countries, and within different kinds of media.

The results will be made available through the Global Media Monitoring Project launched by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC). The last survey conducted in 2005, when the involvement of women in media was studied in many countries on a single day.

”The survey was conducted on Feb. 15, 2005,” Anna Turley, coordinator of the women’s programme at WACC told IPS. ”This was the third, after the first in 1995 and the second in 2000. This was the biggest survey, carried out in 76 countries.”

The five-yearly survey uses an extensive international network of hundreds of volunteers – from journalism students and professors to journalists’ associations and grassroots communications groups and alternative media networks.

In earlier years the data was held up for reportage and analysis, Turley said. But this time it would be made a springboard for action. ”For the first time there will be a concerted effort to use these results as a tool for change.”

The survey studies the imbalance in global news coverage, and inequality in the newsroom, and ”charts the representation of men and women in the news and newsrooms of the world.”

The global research into news media focuses on newspapers, television and radio news coverage for one day in countries around the world. The qualitative and quantitative data gathered from the volunteers is tabulated and analysed, and is the basis of each five-yearly report.

The 2005 report to be released next month is the result of the analysis of almost 13,000 news items on Feb. 15, 2005.

WACC has ambitious plans to spread the message from the latest survey. ”For three weeks from Feb. 16 this year we will be carrying out a very wide-ranging campaign in more than 50 countries,” Turley said. ”There will be a number of events to create a dialogue with the media and with others based on the 2005 results.”

The campaign will end on world women’s day March 8. On that day the campaign will ask all media producing daily news to give editorial responsibility to women editors and journalists to direct the news ”as a first step towards promoting gender equality in the media.”

But the campaigning will continue after the three-week campaign is over, Turley said. ”The three weeks of campaigning will be the beginning of ongoing partnerships.”

While details of the 2005 survey will be announced at the start of the three-week action programme, the broad indications show very little change from the surveys in 1995 and in 2000, she said. Women continue to be under-represented, both by way of the subject of news stories and those reporting them.

”The only exception we found was among TV presenters,” Turley said. But female television presenters are likely to survive in their jobs only until age 35 or so. ”We are seeing a link between age and careers as TV presenters.”

The global picture is dismal ”though we do see certain variations across regions and countries,” Turley said. But there is also a remarkable consistency in patterns. ”In the UK the picture is not very different from that in Azerbaijan or Zimbabwe.”

The project has been endorsed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and a coalition of partner organisations.

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