“Nepal Television has a very good example of workforce composition of content producers from the gender perspective. It has 56 percent women producers within its programme division whereas women share less than 51 percent in the wider population of the country. This composition of creative producers reflects direct and positive results on television screen.”
What Matters, Who Speaks and How?
Understanding the decisions that guide broadcast production can help enrich and diversifyprogramme content, and ensure the delivery of a balanced and fairer representation. Getting smart on gender is about understanding diversity, equity and how we make decisions as media professionals. This, in turn, helps to better apply media ethics and enhances industry standards and technical and professional excellence.
Whether in radio or television, and across the range of work areas and levels, making sense of gender means reflecting back to audiences the many different voices that are out there. It can mean rethinking the structure and delivery of programme content – and being better at ways to do what we do best.
Improving gender equity in content starts with choosing which events or issues are covered and which are not. Journalists and other programme makers act as gatekeepers for their audiences so the decisions must be made responsibly and with respect for viewers and listeners while at the same time understanding the context in which events happen.
These can include:
• Does the story perpetuate gender inequity, stereotyping or degradation? If it does, should it be covered or can the issue be covered in a different way?
• How will coverage progress human rights or fight injustice or inequity? Not all broadcasting has to do this, but the question should still be asked.
• Can the story be told from a perspective of gender equity? This may not need to be overt or obvious and may simply consist of stripping the story of gender bias and asserting balance.
• Can the larger picture of inequality be contextualised with personal stories and gender dimensions of inequality? A broader range of perspectives (particularly in developing stories), as well as the identification of the ‘missing’ sources in programmes and reaching the right balance can make the coverage stronger.
• Does coverage comply with the requirements of your media organisation? If it does not, can the organisation’s agenda be influenced so that an issue with gender equity concerns or perspectives can be covered?
• How can coverage be made interesting and engaging and news be made new, significant and about people?
Beyond the coverage of individual events and issues, broadcasters and managers should question how the media organisation as a whole operates in the context of gender equity. Ethics and content guidelines are examples of context, as are policies and management directives which can help to ensure fair, balanced and quality representation in all aspects of broadcasting work.
“At the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC), programme executives generate a report on the number of appearances by male and female on both news and programmes separately each month. This report gives a clear indication of female and male guests invited to the studio, number of females interviewed, comments generated, female hosts, etc; the report is presented and discussed at the monthly forum of production staff.”