How can journalism tell stories while it ignores women’s perspectives?

 

Female journalists face discrimination when entering traditionally male-dominated spheres such as sport

Wan IFRA’s Trends in Newsrooms 2015 report identifies gender equality as one of the top nine issues facing the journalism industry today.

In the Australian media landscape, there is a discrepancy between the disproportionate demographic representation of women in media in relation to the diversity and “status” of women in society in general as well as a lack of women’s voices in journalism (Strong & Hannis 2007, p. 2). Unfortunately, this trend tells women that their opinions are not valued as much as their male counterparts. In research conducted into the “visibility of female journalists at major Australian and New Zealand newspapers”   it was found that women occupy only 34% of bylines in major newspapers in Australia and 36% in New Zealand generating a ratio of nearly 2:1 favouring male contribution (Strong and Hannis 2007, p. 1).

It was also noted that due to glass ceilings, in which women seldom occupy executive positions, heavily male dominated newsrooms tend to produce male featured and orientated stories which some argue could hinder women from entering the journalism profession and having access to female perspectives that validate women’s contributions to society (Strong and Hannis 2007, p. 2).

gmmp-2015-badge_250

Despite relatively equal numbers of female to male journalists in Australia women are underrepresented in editorial and management positions and underpaid by an average of 23.3% in the Information, Media and Telecommunications Industry.

 

Who Makes the News highlights the prevailing gender inequality gap in the news

“In 2015, women make up only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly as they did in 2010”

Amy Mullins on the gender pay gap, ABC News 24  

Even though “women journalists were granted equal pay for equal work in 1917, under the first federal award for journalists” (Baker 2015, p. 1) there still lingers a vast disparity between wages and likelihood of promotion often coupled with the excuse that women as caregivers would not be able to handle the hours with domestic responsibilities.
There is a lack of support for women including the tendency for women who are planning to take maternity leave having their promised promotions snapped up by their male, even subordinate, co-workers.

The result gives rise to issues of social inequality in the everyday lives of women due to work place and therefore economic discrimination.

“Single women an’t afford to live in the city and men can. Is that fair?” – The Guardian

cmpiknuveaactqa

In a tragic statement about the pervasive misogyny that still invades common culture, women in journalism receive an inordinate amount of sexual harassment cyberbullying and trolling which the newly established UNESCO project, Global Alliance on Media and Gender, recognises as being due to the increased online presence of journalism highlighting entrenched cultural misogyny.

cmqsszausaiwgui

There is a call to newsrooms and editors to be held accountable for the inequalities experienced by female journalists but many women report that their bosses, which are often men, either don’t care or do not prioritise issues of sexism enough to put practical measures in place (North 2012, p. 66).

UNESCO (2015) notes a plethora of organisations such as the International Women’s Media Foundation and even some social media platforms including Twitter and Tumblr attempting to tackle the problem and take control of information technologies to support and protect women.

The opportunity for true innovative momentum in journalism, as a profession of information dissemination, can only be realised when equality is established by giving voices to all elements of society. Ignoring women ignores half of the world. Readers have the right to be treated as intelligent individuals and make up their own minds through exposure to varied perspectives. However, the consistent denial of legitimising women’s voices by the industry and some of its readers is an abysmal indication of a much larger problem.

The entire premise of journalistic objectivity in promoting a democratic society is that information must be presented and weighed and only then can be valued. If there is one thing that journalism and history can teach us, it is that exposing diverse viewpoints is crucial in such a complex undertaking as determining truth.

Leaving on a funny note.. Would you say this to a man?

Academic References:

Baker, J 2015, ‘Australian Women Journalists and the “Pretence of Equality”’, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, vol. 108 pp. 1–16. 

Strong, C & Hannis, G 2007, ‘The visibility of female journalists at Australian and New Zealand newspapers: the good news and the bad news’. Australian Journalism Review, July 2007, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 115-126

North, L 2012, ‘Blokey’ newsrooms still a battleground for female journalists’, viewed 5 November 2016, <http://www.waja.org.au/assets/Uploads/page_assets/2012c-AJR-survey.pdf>

Building Digital Safety for Journalism 2015, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, viewed 5 November 2016 <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002323/232358e.pdf>. 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s