Wan-Ifra Women in News launches gender balance guide

Women in News, a part of the World Association of News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), has developed a practical guide for media organisations and professionals with the aim of equipping them with the necessary tools and insights to improve gender balance in content.

13 May 2020 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

The guide showcases practical advice, organisational strategies, and case studies.

The media industry has played a direct role in perpetuating inequality by excluding women’s voices, stories and opinions in content and using language which stereotypes women. Readers are increasingly calling out news organisations for this practice, which, in failing to change, risk alienating their audiences, harming their corporate reputations and brands, and negatively impacting their bottom lines.

“Ensuring gender balance in content is not just a moral responsibility but a financial one,” said Melanie Walker, executive director, Women in News. “Women are more likely to read content in which they see themselves reflected, and yet they are only seen, heard or read on average 25% of the time. Especially now, when we are relying on the media to tell us the facts about our health and safety — perhaps more than ever — it is important that every voice is represented.”

Improving gender balance takes conscious, thoughtful measures to recognise and dismantle unconscious bias. It takes a concerted effort to begin identifying and including new voices and opinions in content on a consistent basis. Maintaining that focus can be a strain given the multiple competing priorities and the frequent fire fighting that the media are engaged in today.

“We produced this guide so that journalists, newsroom leaders, HR managers and anyone else invested in bringing about positive change has a ready reference,” Walker said. “The challenge in promoting gender equity is huge, so it’s vital every person in the news team knows how they can make a difference.”

The practical guide will help newsrooms and media professionals throughout the world to address the issue head on.

This guide should help to:

  • Understand the importance of gender balance in content
  • Identify the different ways in which the media gender stereotypes
  • Understand how to avoid gender stereotyping
  • Develop organisational strategies to improve gender balance in content
  • Identify suitable metrics and tools to track their progress
  • Learn from successful initiatives that have been implemented by other news organisations

The guide can be downloaded from Women in News.

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