How to gather evidence to support advocacy

  on January 21, 2014

This module identifies different media research methods to gather facts intended to engage the media during advocacy. Approaches to gathering evidence include media monitoring, audience research and conducting a gender audit of the media.

Media monitoring

Monitoring the media is an effective tool for gender and media advocacy. It is a systematic surveillance of media performance for the purpose of its description and critical evaluation. Mostly it generates knowledge about the media by focusing on content. The findings of monitoring can be documented in short reports and/or fact sheets. These can be used to raise awareness among journalists, editors and media managers, as well as advertisers, for the development of gender and media advocacy campaigns and for identifying areas where policy, codes and guidelines need to be developed.

The objectives of monitoring may differ. Analysis may be interpretative or quantitative; it may be a special ‘case study’; it may focus on the language or narrative of news stories; the duration of analysis may be short or long; it can include one medium and single country or it may be comparative. Trends and changes, as well as media employment patterns can be monitored.

Monitoring how often women are quoted as primary sources is an example of quantitative monitoring. Qualitative monitoring would analyze gender biases, stereotypes, the change of value judgment, perceptions and attitudes.

Quantitative Monitoring Tool

The GMMP tool is perhaps the most widely known for media monitoring from a gender perspective.  Monitors use the day’s newspapers or a video or audio tape recording of the day’s major radio or television newscast. Referring to specific questions in the tool about the story, monitors count, listen, observe, analyze and record their responses in the grid provided. Codes for all possible responses are provided to enable summary counts, averages and other statistical operations. The entire tool may be downloaded from the website

Qualitative monitoring helps to analyze the gender biases and prejudices that appear in the media. Biases are identifiable in the  value judgments, perceptions and attitudes that are communicated through the language, placement of stories, sources chosen, focus of the story, and other journalistic and editorial choices.

Qualitative monitoring also helps to reveal how the media portrays the power relations between women and men, i.e., the position of women and men in the division of resources and responsibilities, benefits and rights, power and privilege. The use of gender relations as an analytical category shifts the focus from viewing women in isolation from men.(Women’s Media Watch Jamaica, 1998.

The key areas in which women are often misrepresented in news media and therefore needing special attention in qualitative monitoring are:

  1. Beauty Ideals
  2. The Commodity/The Decoration
  3. Sexuality/The Sex Symbol
  4. Gender Roles, Power and Relationships
  5. Treatment of Violence

Quantitative and qualitative monitoring combined can provide a rich resource to support gender and media advocacy work and to build effective campaigns.

The toolkit is available online.

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January 21, 2014
Categories:  Advocacy

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