The Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS), published by Gender Links, is a follow up study to the Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) conducted in 2003. The GMBS was designed to provide a picture of how gender was being incorporated in the media in Southern Africa, and gave quantitative, sex-disaggregated data on who speaks, who speaks on what, who creates the news, and who reports on what. The GMPS takes stock of the current situation, to see what had changed and how. According to the research report, while progress has been made in some areas, there us still high levels of gender inequality in the media.
Organisers say the study, which monitored more than 33,000 news items from across the region, goes further than the first GMBS to provide more information on what needs to be done. The research surveyed general media practice looking specifically at whether journalists gather news and information from a diversity of sources and includes an analysis of two specific topics - gender violence and HIV/AIDS. The study found that there is a marginal improvement in the proportion of women sources in the news, although there are wide variations across countries. HIV/AIDS coverage remains the same, although the proportion of people affected being quoted has increased substantially. Coverage of gender-based violence is still low, although more victims/ survivors are being quoted than perpetrators.
According to the report the proportion of single source stories is high at 67%, as are the voices of spokespersons and experts. The report found that women are more likely to be seen than heard, constituting 27% of all images in newspapers compared to 18% news sources. They are also more likely to be identified by a personal tag than men.
In terms of newsroom makeup, the study found that there are more women presenters than women reporters. Although there is still a gender division of labour in newsrooms with men predominating "hard" beats and women "soft" beats, the proportion of women reporters in all topics has increased. Authors say that having more women in top and senior management positions does not necessarily result in more women sources, but having women journalists does make a difference.
The study also includes a broad range of recommendations grouped into themes. For example, the report suggests mainstreaming gender into media education and training curricula; engaging with media regulatory bodies, as well as editors' forums or associations at country level; providing mentorship, support and capacity building for women in the media; building and monitoring specific targets on media content in gender policies; involving community media; and recognising best practices.
Gender Links website on April 21, 2011.