Women vs. Journalism

“It is about equal treatment of men and women, and encompasses issues such as equal pay for equal work, equal access to decision making bodies, employment, pensions, health care, promotions, maternity and paternity leave. In journalism it also means fair gender portrayal in the news, the use of neutral and non-gender specific language, and women not being pigeonholed as ‘lifestyle’ or ‘soft’ news reporters.” – Getting the balance right: Gender equality in journalism

In the journalistic community, discrimination due to gender is still evident, and many women are often found reporting on lifestyle and social issues, rather than “hard” news (International Federation of Journalists, 2009, pp.3). Despite the fact that statistics prove that more and more women are continuing to enter the field, the amount of women in senior jobs (International Federation of Journalists, 2009, pp.4) within journalism are surprisingly low compared to that of men.

The pay gap between male and female journalistic voices is also alarmingly wide, and research in the UK found that political news, opinion writing and sports journalism are areas which hold very few female voices. Sport is perceived to be a male dominated industry, and a 2011 survey in Germany concluded that only 8% of the sports related articles were written by women. In the UK the number is even smaller, and less than 5% of sports journalism was written by females.

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Jodi Enda of Nieman Reports claims, “We no longer sit in the balcony, but neither do we have the best seats in the house.” Enda suggests that women have changed the face of news, as there is now more focus on education, welfare, and children. She claims that without females in positions of authority in the field, female journalistic voices have a much more difficult time being heard and respected, and there is much less chance of them having the ability to report on “hard” news.

Although we can see a increase in the presence of women in the journalism field, it is evident that it is difficult for women to achieve senior jobs or higher positions, proving that gender inequality is still very evident in the field.

References:

International Federation of Journalists. 2009. Getting the balance right: Gender equality in journalism | UNESCO. Belgium. Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001807/180707E.pdf [Accessed 30th May 2014)

There is no escape from bias.

In our world of journalism, it is practically impossible to find an article completely and utterly free of bias or bias intentions. Although it is not always necessarily the writer’s fault, it is important to remember the impact of bias’s influence when reading an article or news story. The term ‘media bias‘ refers to the way in which news reporters and various other journalistic voices report and cover their story. Since it is not possible to report absolutely everything, selectivity is practically inevitable in journalism, and therefore bias is born. The Rhetorica Network claims, “There is no such thing as an objective point of view.” However, The Rhetorica Network also states that although objectivity is not always reached in journalism, journalists generally try to do the right thing.

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Journalism) suggests that in attempting to detect bias in journalism, it is important to decipher the sources that the journalists are utilizing, as many claim to receive their information from “official” sources, such as government and corporate sources. FAIR also suggests that in order give a fair and accurate report or story, journalists must ensure that they are receiving their information from a variety of sources, including progressive, female and minority voices.

The Conversation discussion the apparent gender bias within the journalism field, claiming, “The pay gap between male and female journalists remains stubbornly wide, and older women – especially if they have taken a career break – find it difficult to retain a place in the industry,” and also states that it is not as common for women to rise to senior positions. Gender bias is also evident within opinion writing, as research conducted by The Guardian found that women count for a mere 26% of opinion pieces.

Therefore, it is clear that although journalists may have the right intentions, circumstances and life experiences of journalistic voices will inevitably contribute to the bias of the media.