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Editorial and publishing policies

Dernière modification: July 28, 2020

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Policies related to content gathering, development and dissemination can provide journalists, broadcasters and other media personnel with specific principles, professional guidelines and rules or codes of conduct that are expected and must be complied with in their everyday work. These may include blocking and reporting mechanisms to content controls. For social media, such frameworks are beginning to emerge as Internet intermediaries and other ICT-related firms have been engaging with gender and human rights organizations to advance their policies and responses to online violence. 

BBC Editorial Guidelines

The BBC has produced extensive guidelines for its media practitioners.  The guidelines clearly state the media organization’s principles and how the guidelines should be used.  They cover a number of broad areas, including:

  • Accuracy
  • Impartiality
  • Harm and Offence (includes specific sections on violence, sex, intimidation and humiliation and portrayals)
  • Fairness, Contributors and Consent
  • Privacy
  • Reporting Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Children and Young People as Contributors
  • Politics, Public Policy and Polls
  • War, Terror and Emergencies
  • Religion
  • Re-Use and Revisioning
  • Editorial Integrity and Independence from External Interests
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • External Relationships and Funding
  • Interacting with our Audiences
  • The Law (includes specific sections on victims, offenders, privacy, safety)
  • Accountability

The guidelines further provide extensive detail related to engaging with victims and offenders and reporting on violence against women and children throughout the sections presented above.

See the full guidelines:

Practitioners may consider working with media houses to support enhancement of these principles and rules to ensure a more gender sensitive and rights-based approach to their communications. Where rights already exist (for example, to be treated fairly and to not be discriminated against), they can be used to advocate for compliance or better adherence when they have been contravened.  This could involve lodging formal complaints through available media accountability mechanisms and/or publicising them more broadly to raise awareness among the public.

Elements for Media organizations to promote ethical codes/editorial policies in favour of gender equality in media content, include (UNESCO, 2012):

  • Media organizations promote ethical codes/editorial policies in favour of gender equality in media content
  • Existence of (written) gender policy with specific reference to media practices (such as sourcing).
  • Existence of (written) code (of ethics) that includes reference to gender representation.
  • Existence of resources for gender-sensitive reporting such as stylebook/manual, directory of women experts in different subject areas, roster of individuals or agencies that can provide a gender angle or perspective on different subjects, etc., to help journalists and other creative/technical staff avoid sexism and adopt gender-sensitivity as essential ingredients of professional practice.
  • Professional staff, including editors, made aware of and accept gender/diversity policy, gender and diversity sensitive code of ethics and stylebook/manual.
  • Managerial personnel, including board members and senior managers, made aware of and accept gender/diversity policy, gender and diversity sensitive code of ethics
  • Organization/facilitation of training programmes/workshops to familiarise professional staff with relevant resources such as gender policy, gender-sensitive code of ethics and stylebook/manual and help them integrate awareness of gender into media practice.
  • Existence of periodic/ongoing internal monitoring of media content to gauge effectiveness and assess outcomes of measures such as gender policy, gender-sensitive code of ethics, stylebook/manual, and training programmes/workshops.
  • Internal mechanisms to provide the public with a forum for complaints and criticism about gender equality issues in content such as in the form of an ombudsman, readers’ editor and/or press council, and to ensure that public is made aware of this mechanism.
  • Publicity of gender policy and regular reporting to public regarding institutional responsiveness to complaints or perceptions of performance on gender issues.
  • Adherence to gender/policy relating to media content taken into account for performance appraisal and promotion rules.
  • Recognition of independent organization (or equivalent) as an external mechanism to provide the public with a forum for complaints and criticism about media content, and to make the public aware of such a mechanism.
  • Sex disaggregated participation lists for workshops.
  • Promotion of use of sex disaggregated data in journalistic content.
  • Review of monitoring data and action on significant problems

Common Sense Media has produced Gender Equity Guidelines for Content Creators: Recommendations for developing positive gender representations in movies and on TV for ages 2-17.


Media and ICTs are not gender-neutral – they are shaped by the contexts in which they are developed. Gender divides are a significant and pressing challenge facing the media and Internet ecosystem, ranging from women’s ability to access and benefit from the Internet and other digital technologies to their ability to participate meaningfully in multistakeholder processes. Women in many countries face a number of barriers in gaining access to or using the Internet, including ‘concrete’ barriers such as affordability and network rollout, quality and availability; ‘analogue’ barriers such as the availability of relevant content; structural barriers concerned with educational access and attainment, lack of relevant skills and income, occupational status, the effect of online abuse and gender-based violence and threats; and several intersectional challenges, including the impact of stereotypes and cultural norms on their ability to access and to use the Internet.

Without involving more women in Internet policymaking, which will foster a better understanding of capacity and needs, digital gender inequalities are likely to persist. To bridge the digital gap, it is necessary to build and update media and information literacy skills into education systems, to strengthen users’ ability to define, access, manage, integrate, communicate, evaluate and create information safely and appropriately through digital technologies and networked devices for participation in economic and social life. Platforms, regulators, civil society and the media have major roles to play in combatting gender-abuse online.

The UNESCO ROAM Principles and Indicators

The ROAM principles which are based on international standards serve as the benchmark for actors to come together for improved alignment to Rights, Openness, Access for all and Multistakeholder practice. The ROAM principles together with its supplementary indicators are filling a standard-setting void at the global and national levels. This instrument entails an evidence-based policy making approach for the Internet. It also reflects the value of multi-stakeholder participation in overseeing any research that uses the indicators in order to assess national Internet spaces and to propose recommendations for improvement to the range of actors (governments, companies, academia, civil society, technical community, etc). 

For more information, see:


UNESCO Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media Guide. Available in English.

Gender-Ethical Journalism and Media House Policy. Available in English.

International Press Institute OnTheLine Project. Available in English.

Preventing Online Harassment and Promoting Freedom of Expression Draft IFJ Online Harassment Social Media Policy (for media houses). Available in English.

Gender in Media: A Southern Africa Toolkit. Available in English.