Getting the Balance Right: IFJ Handbook on Gender Equality in Journalism

  on January 21, 2014
Getting the Balance Right is a new handbook on gender equality in the journalism released by the International Federation of Journalists in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Part one of the handbook is devoted to examining the role of women journalists . This section cites findings from GMMP 2005, that “57% of all television news presenters [are] women, yet only 29% of news items [are] written by female reporters.”

The handbook dissects the troubling tendency of news media houses to relegate women to certain stereotypical beats while shunning them from the coveted realms of hard news, and from the editorial process.  It reminds us that the age old problem of gender discrepancies in remuneration still persists and that work place harassment remains a pertinent concern in many newsrooms.

Valuable strategies such as pay audits, health and safety assessments, equal opportunity legislation, and ‘dignity at work clauses’ are suggested as potential ways of avoiding gender inequality in the workplace. Guidelines—courtesy of the International News Safety Institute—are provided to help female journalists avoid sexual abuse while on assignment.

The subsequent section of the handbook is devoted to the coverage of women subjects by media practitioners—both female and male. Here, the limited coverage of female subjects in the news in highlighted both in terms of the number of stories with female subject and the types of stories with female subjects.

Women are far more likely to be featured in “soft stories” which deal with celebrity gossip, the arts, or lifestyle news than they are to make an appearance in the realm of hard news. Stories about politics, crime, and the economy nearly always feature men. Similarly, sources introduced as experts are almost exclusively male.

This section of the handbook also gives tips on how to ensure more equitable coverage of female and male subjects in the new.

The full text of the handbook is available for download at the UNESCO website.

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January 21, 2014
Categories:  What's New

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Beijing +20: In my opinion...

The most important contribution that the Beijing Platform for Action has made to advancing gender equality in and through the media is:

Setting global standards to which governments and the media can be held accountable
Bringing coherence to and greater understanding of civil society initiatives on gender, women and media
Raising the profile of work on 'women and media' as important for addressing gender inequalities in women's lived experiences.

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