Today is International Women’s Day and, for once, women are in focus. We at Fojo Media Institute are proud to support the Global Media Monitoring Project in Sweden and local partners around the world, for the advancement of a gender balanced news coverage all year round.
By the end of the year we will know: has the imbalance between women and men in news media coverage changed for the better? In 2015, when the Global Media Monitoring Project last monitored the news simultaneously across 114 countries, less than one out of four voices in the media was a woman.
So, is it possible that we will see real change?
Are there any signs of growing awareness within the media industry that gender equality is an important aspect of quality journalism?
That gender-balanced journalism supports journalistic ethics and principles of fairness and balance?
Yes, luckily so.
More media outlets than ever seem to do their own monitoring, counting heads of women and men in their coverage and using the results to work for change. Also, the struggle to bring in more diverse voices, in different capacities, has resulted in efforts to diversify expert voices and quote more female experts. Let us trust that this aim to better mirror society is sincere. And if the ethical reasons should not be enough, the challenge of attracting new audiences in a competitive media landscape should be good motivation for media to reflect the issues and concerns of both men and women.
Another positive sign is that gender and inclusion are more often referred to in steering documents and guidelines (stylebooks etc.) adopted by media houses. Some media organisations take it even further and link gender equality and diversity to appraisal and performance of their staff. If your work as a journalist doesn’t represent all of society, you can’t expect to get a pay raise or get promoted. Helsingborgs Dagblad, one of Sweden’s largest regional newspapers, is at the forefront of this work and Jonas Kanje, Editor in Chief, argues that such measures are necessary to achieve sustainable change.
Fojo is devoted to working for gender equality in and through the media. In 2020 we will be part of the Global Media Monitoring Project and monitor Swedish media (together with the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg) and support local partners in Cambodia, Myanmar, Russia and Zimbabwe to monitor their media reality. We will report the events on our platforms, so stay tuned!
While data is key to driving change, we believe real change must be driven from within the newsrooms. Therefore, to mark this International Women’s Day, together with over 30 other organisations, we sign this declaration (initiated by International Media Support), and to call upon all media leaders and journalists around the globe to take action against the skewed balance and representation of gender in the news.