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Last edited: August 12, 2020

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The news media - media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public – cannot be disconnected from the subjects and events they report on. As news media actors select, articulate, and disseminate information, they are implicated in the public discourse that informs social beliefs and behaviours. News media is at once an indicator and a propagator of the state of affairs in any given society, it serves as both “a mirror and an agent” (Galva?o IDB 2015). The manner in which violence against women is treated in media discourse is crucial: if the subject is not treated carefully, media actors risk inadvertently further harming the victim and/or compounding and perpetuating the enabling environment for violence against women. Alternatively, it can play a crucial role in addressing those social norms and stereotypes that condone violence. 

Global research indicates that women’s representation, gender equality and violence against women reporting are very weak and have remained so for decades. The Global Media Monitoring Project found (GMMP 2015):

  • Since 2000, only 10 per cent of all stories have focused on women with the number declining to 7 and 5 per cent in the areas of political and economic news respectively.
  • In digital news and news tweets, the number rises to 26 per cent, but remains well below parity.
  • Gender stereotypes continue to be firmly entrenched with only 4 percent of news (television, print, radio and digital) challenging gender stereotypes.
  • Domestic violence survivors are still largely portrayed negatively though there has been improvement over a decade, with 27 per cent being portrayed as survivors in 2015 as opposed to 6 per cent in 2005.

Understanding values and practices of news media

Broadly, the key guiding professional and ethical values of news journalism are a commitment to: accuracy, fairness, balance and impartiality. The news media in most contexts, especially where it is not state controlled or heavily influenced, usually does not see itself as having a ‘proposition’ or as being aligned to any particular social or political cause. The values of neutrality, autonomy and freedom should be central to editorial decision-making. Media workers expect to be approached, less on the basis of the positive “moral” impact that the story may have on society, and rather on the basis of a potential story with a strong ‘news value’.

Regular editorial meetings usually determine which news stories should be covered under tight deadlines and news journalists may then have only very limited time to find substantiating information and to set up interviews and debates. News stories can change extremely fast under the ‘24 hour news cycle’ as events unfold and different people respond, meaning that many journalists often rely on people they know instead of seeking out for new contributors. Positively influencing this challenging context requires a multi-faceted approach.

Approaching news media

Appropriate planning is necessary to design interventions for the news media, including those that can respond to the shorter-term, ad-hoc and often hectic news cycle needs, as well as, those that can contribute to a longer-term change through capacity-building of the organizations and its personnel (staff and freelancers).

Recommendations include:

  • Establishing relationships with news media producers to share findings on content analysis that has been undertaken; identify challenges to improved reporting; and develop a plan to support longer-term changes (e.g. forging relationships with issue experts to review content before it is published; provide ongoing gender training for journalists; assisting with the production of gender-sensitive policies and content guidelines, etc.)
  • Developing contacts at the target media outlets as early as possible and meet them at their convenience. Google News, Twitter and other social media provide useful information about which journalists work where and what they are interested in.
  • Learning the schedules and timelines for news production and advocating for the inclusion of specific stories in the media outlets’ planning diaries can help. Practitioners can liaise with existing media focal points or media expert within or outside their organisation on an ongoing basis or can develop media contact in advance of specific events or days of significance, such as the International Women’s Day (8th March), Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) and Human Rights Day (10th December).

The news media - media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public – cannot be disconnected from the subjects and events they report on. As news media actors select, articulate, and disseminate information, they are implicated in the public discourse that informs social beliefs and behaviours. News media is at once an indicator and a propagator of the state of affairs in any given society, it serves as both “a mirror and an agent” (Galva?o IDB 2015). The manner in which violence against women is treated in media discourse is crucial: if the subject is not treated carefully, media actors risk inadvertently further harming the victim and/or compounding and perpetuating the enabling environment for violence against women. Alternatively, it can play a crucial role in addressing those social norms and stereotypes that condone violence. 

Global research indicates that women’s representation, gender equality and violence against women reporting are very weak and have remained so for decades. The Global Media Monitoring Project found (GMMP 2015):

  • Since 2000, only 10 per cent of all stories have focused on women with the number declining to 7 and 5 per cent in the areas of political and economic news respectively.
  • In digital news and news tweets, the number rises to 26 per cent, but remains well below parity.
  • Gender stereotypes continue to be firmly entrenched with only 4 percent of news (television, print, radio and digital) challenging gender stereotypes.
  • Domestic violence survivors are still largely portrayed negatively though there has been improvement over a decade, with 27 per cent being portrayed as survivors in 2015 as opposed to 6 per cent in 2005.

Understanding values and practices of news media

Broadly, the key guiding professional and ethical values of news journalism are a commitment to: accuracy, fairness, balance and impartiality. The news media in most contexts, especially where it is not state controlled or heavily influenced, usually does not see itself as having a ‘proposition’ or as being aligned to any particular social or political cause. The values of neutrality, autonomy and freedom should be central to editorial decision-making. Media workers expect to be approached, less on the basis of the positive “moral” impact that the story may have on society, and rather on the basis of a potential story with a strong ‘news value’.

Regular editorial meetings usually determine which news stories should be covered under tight deadlines and news journalists may then have only very limited time to find substantiating information and to set up interviews and debates. News stories can change extremely fast under the ‘24 hour news cycle’ as events unfold and different people respond, meaning that many journalists often rely on people they know instead of seeking out for new contributors. Positively influencing this challenging context requires a multi-faceted approach.

Approaching news media

Appropriate planning is necessary to design interventions for the news media, including those that can respond to the shorter-term, ad-hoc and often hectic news cycle needs, as well as, those that can contribute to a longer-term change through capacity-building of the organizations and its personnel (staff and freelancers).

Recommendations include:

  • Establishing relationships with news media producers to share findings on content analysis that has been undertaken; identify challenges to improved reporting; and develop a plan to support longer-term changes (e.g. forging relationships with issue experts to review content before it is published; provide ongoing gender training for journalists; assisting with the production of gender-sensitive policies and content guidelines, etc.)
  • Developing contacts at the target media outlets as early as possible and meet them at their convenience. Google News, Twitter and other social media provide useful information about which journalists work where and what they are interested in.
  • Learning the schedules and timelines for news production and advocating for the inclusion of specific stories in the media outlets’ planning diaries can help. Practitioners can liaise with existing media focal points or media expert within or outside their organisation on an ongoing basis or can develop media contact in advance of specific events or days of significance, such as the International Women’s Day (8th March), Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) and Human Rights Day (10th December).

The news media - media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public – cannot be disconnected from the subjects and events they report on. As news media actors select, articulate, and disseminate information, they are implicated in the public discourse that informs social beliefs and behaviours. News media is at once an indicator and a propagator of the state of affairs in any given society, it serves as both “a mirror and an agent” (Galva?o IDB 2015). The manner in which violence against women is treated in media discourse is crucial: if the subject is not treated carefully, media actors risk inadvertently further harming the victim and/or compounding and perpetuating the enabling environment for violence against women. Alternatively, it can play a crucial role in addressing those social norms and stereotypes that condone violence. 

Global research indicates that women’s representation, gender equality and violence against women reporting are very weak and have remained so for decades. The Global Media Monitoring Project found (GMMP 2015):

  • Since 2000, only 10 per cent of all stories have focused on women with the number declining to 7 and 5 per cent in the areas of political and economic news respectively.
  • In digital news and news tweets, the number rises to 26 per cent, but remains well below parity.
  • Gender stereotypes continue to be firmly entrenched with only 4 percent of news (television, print, radio and digital) challenging gender stereotypes.
  • Domestic violence survivors are still largely portrayed negatively though there has been improvement over a decade, with 27 per cent being portrayed as survivors in 2015 as opposed to 6 per cent in 2005.

Understanding values and practices of news media

Broadly, the key guiding professional and ethical values of news journalism are a commitment to: accuracy, fairness, balance and impartiality. The news media in most contexts, especially where it is not state controlled or heavily influenced, usually does not see itself as having a ‘proposition’ or as being aligned to any particular social or political cause. The values of neutrality, autonomy and freedom should be central to editorial decision-making. Media workers expect to be approached, less on the basis of the positive “moral” impact that the story may have on society, and rather on the basis of a potential story with a strong ‘news value’.

Regular editorial meetings usually determine which news stories should be covered under tight deadlines and news journalists may then have only very limited time to find substantiating information and to set up interviews and debates. News stories can change extremely fast under the ‘24 hour news cycle’ as events unfold and different people respond, meaning that many journalists often rely on people they know instead of seeking out for new contributors. Positively influencing this challenging context requires a multi-faceted approach.

Approaching news media

Appropriate planning is necessary to design interventions for the news media, including those that can respond to the shorter-term, ad-hoc and often hectic news cycle needs, as well as, those that can contribute to a longer-term change through capacity-building of the organizations and its personnel (staff and freelancers).

Recommendations include:

  • Establishing relationships with news media producers to share findings on content analysis that has been undertaken; identify challenges to improved reporting; and develop a plan to support longer-term changes (e.g. forging relationships with issue experts to review content before it is published; provide ongoing gender training for journalists; assisting with the production of gender-sensitive policies and content guidelines, etc.)
  • Developing contacts at the target media outlets as early as possible and meet them at their convenience. Google News, Twitter and other social media provide useful information about which journalists work where and what they are interested in.
  • Learning the schedules and timelines for news production and advocating for the inclusion of specific stories in the media outlets’ planning diaries can help. Practitioners can liaise with existing media focal points or media expert within or outside their organisation on an ongoing basis or can develop media contact in advance of specific events or days of significance, such as the International Women’s Day (8th March), Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) and Human Rights Day (10th December).

For a full calendar of events, see: http://www.un.org/en/sections/observances/international-days/

  • Maintaining updated lists of experts, relevant reports, briefing notes and evidence to be provided to journalists when they need them.

Directory of media for women by women: http://www.wifp.org/publications/directory-of-womens-media/ 

She Source Expert Database: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/shesource/

 

Women’s Media Center: She Source (USA)

SheSource is an online database of female experts working across diverse topics related to gender equality, including VAWG, available to speak to the media. It was created by the Women’s Media Center (WMC) in response to the lack of female experts in media, and is designed to serve journalists, producers and bookers who need female guests and sources. Women can register themselves as experts and journalists, producers, and bookers can search the database for the expertise they need. The WMC also supports women who do not feel they have enough media experience to be comfortable being interviewed through their ‘Progressive Women’s Voices’ programme, a media leadership training programme that gives women advanced training and tools to position themselves as media spokespeople in their fields, helping to change the conversation on issues that fill headlines.

Read more about the Progressive Women’s Voices programme: https://www.womensmediacenter.com/about/training/progressive-womens-voices

Women Make the News Thailand Online Database (Thailand)

The Bangkok Office of UNESCO launched a database containing the names of Thai female reporters and expert journalists to contribute to the promotion of gender equality in Thai media.

Access the database: www.WMNThailand.org

For more information, see: http://bangkok.unesco.org/content/gender-equality-media-and-better-stories-nbtc-bolsters-support-women-make-news-thailand

In addition to planning engagement ahead of time, there are often opportunities to piggyback on current events. This entails using ongoing stories and news coverage to relay specific communication objectives or to draw attention to relevant campaigns and interventions.

Piggybacking Examples  

  • A news story arises involving trafficking, a high-profile prosecution, or a well-known person’s comments on sexual violence. This can present an opportunity to call news desks and offer existing research/knowledge and campaign/advocacy messages. This also provides opportunities to offer guest commentating or support for direct news production by recommending individuals from an expert database.

  • A storyline relating to VAWG is prominently being featured in an ongoing TV drama/telenovela.  This presents an opportunity to frame the issues through radio news programmes and phone-in shows or through editorials in newspapers.   

  • Blogs, YouTube videos or podcasts that portray violence against women, sexist, discriminatory or stereotypical representations of men and women can present the opportunity to comment within the discussion thread or can be used together with a discussion guide through social networks and/or in training.

Radio can also provide an important platform for engaging news and current events. Approaches specific to radio can include:

  • Building the capacity of mainstream radio announcers, DJs, MCs and hosts to incorporate gender-sensitive topics, messages and discussions in their existing programmes.
  • Developing and pitch a long-term engagement series that can be aired on a regular (e.g. weekly) basis to cover a range of topics related to gender equality, ending discrimination, harmful practices and violence against girls and women.
  • Identifying stations which broadcast interviews on social issues and propose to be their guest, e.g. for an interview, a call-in program or a talk show.
  • Mobilizing like-minded network partners and constituencies to call and support your point. Where possible, ask the radio or TV station to provide you with a recording of the interview – this can be a helpful reference and can be used in other media formats, campaigning or community mobilization efforts.

Tips for radio

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Conduct mock interviews and get feedback from friends or colleagues
  • Draft the essential points or key messages and practice them
  • Avoid long sentences, using sharp short bites that get the point across quickly and effectively
  • Pre-empt challenging questions that can be answered by general, but accurate responses.

Feminist radio is women-centred radio programming that promotes non-sexist and non-stereotyping communications focusing on issues affecting women and girls. Many feminist radio organisations are community-based, broadcasting increasingly over the internet to reach a wider audience.  Other audio formats that have gained in popularity and provide greater reach include podcasts and streamed video talks.

Examples of Feminist Radio and Talks 

For examples of radio stations, see:

Women’s Liberation Radio News - https://wlrnmedia.wordpress.com/

Women’s International News Gathering Service - http://www.wings.org/

Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press - http://www.wifp.org/

For Feminist Podcasts, see - https://player.fm/featured/feminist

For examples of how video talks have been used to disseminate powerful messages around important topics, see the following Ted Talks categories:

Feminism - https://www.ted.com/topics/feminism

Violence against Women – https://www.ted.com/search?q=violence+against+women

Gender Equality - https://www.ted.com/search?q=gender+equality

Masculinities - https://www.ted.com/search?q=masculinities

Resources:

The International Federation of Journalists Guidelines for Reporting on Violence against Women - http://ethicaljournalisminitiative.org/en/contents/ifj-guidelines-for-reporting-on-violence-against-women

Media Guidelines for Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Contexts- http://gbvaor.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/GBV-Media-Guidelines-Final-Provisional-25July2013.pdf  

GLAAD's Media Reference Guide- https://www.glaad.org/reference

The Diversity Style Guide - https://www.diversitystyleguide.com/

Handle with Care: A Guide to Responsible Media Reporting of Violence against Women- http://www.endvawnow.org/uploads/browser/files/handle_withcare_zerotolerance_2011.pdf 

Responsible Reporting Guidelines for Journalists -  http://www.evas.org.au/images/docs/Responsible-Reporting-guidelines-2013.pdf

Gender-Sensitive Language Guidelines - http://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/gender-inclusive%20language/guidelines-on-gender-inclusive-language-en.pdf?la=en&vs=2129 

Gender Terminology Database- http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/gender-inclusive-language

Gender glossary - https://trainingcentre.unwomen.org/mod/glossary/view.php?id=36  

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