Posts Tagged ‘women’


Breaking the Silence, Empowering Female Journalists Worldwide

“There are two groups of people that are more vulnerable during riots and marches: female police officers and female journalists.”

Last month I was in Washington D.C. getting various forms of training. During a seminar those words were directed to me from the in-house expert. The goal was to train us, the journalists, to be safe during civil unrest, marches and riots, but what left me shocked was that the expert gave me the “it is what it is” attitude. It happens. Women are more susceptible to attacks than others in these circumstances. But what are we doing to shift that attitude and ensure the safety of not just female journalists, but all journalists?

If you are a journalist going abroad on an assignment, it is so important to be prepared and proactive in any situation that may present itself. As a woman, the rules of engagement change and the reality is you can be left completely vulnerable.

There are dangers we face that most likely our male counterparts may not experience. Last year, the Committee to Protect Journalists held a panel discussion with journalists on their experiences reporting on the front lines, dealing with sexualized violence, and countering gender-related threats and restrictions.

Returning from my time in the Middle East in 2014 and earlier this year interviewing refugees, there were some unfortunate obstacles I faced that left me to reassess my safety in my work.

But I’m not alone.

Just last week, I read about award-winning Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima and her struggle to gain justice after 17 years where she was abducted, tortured and raped following her report on violence at a maximum-security prison involving state officials and paramilitary groups. The painful and prolonged court system in Colombia hasn’t stopped Bedoya to fight tirelessly against and she even started a campaign in 2009, “now is not the time to remain silent”. She stands up for women and has gained strength in her fight against injustice in her case and for women in similar circumstances.

There is also Shakeela Ibrahimkhel of Afghanistan, who had to end her 10 year career at one of the country’s leading news channels to seek asylum in Germany. The continued violence, threats and harassment from the Taliban has led some 100 Afghan women to seek refuge outside of the country.

The threats don’t stop there. Just days ago the Nepal Press Freedom reported an incident of a death threat towards Sushma Paudel after  a status on Facebook. The threat against Poudel from a Canadian resident was over a story the journalist had filed.

These acts of violence, the lack of safety and the overall status of female journalists globally is alarming. Doing a simple Google search for “threats against female journalists” right now and in .51 seconds, there are about 2,820,000 results!

Although my experiences abroad do not compare to the harrowing female correspondents, freelancers and even fixers abroad, I do believe what is happening to women in our line of work should raise a red flag.

In order to understand, empower and give a voice the women around the world doing amazing work, the Society of Professional Journalists’ International Community will feature female journalists starting this month as part of a #PressFreedomMatters movement giving these women a platform to express their narrative.

Come back every Wednesday and read the stories these women have to share, the obstacles they’ve faced and how they are overcoming them.

 

If you know someone that should be featured in the weekly series, please fill out this form

Can female students change Britain’s media industry?

Kettle_logo-1.01

The author wrote on the trends from the view of Kettle Magazine editors. (Photo: Red Chilli Publishing Ltd.)

One trend that has been present as of late in the US is the rise of women studying journalism. However, this trend does not apply just here, but also in the UK, where recent research from the university application charity UCAS showed more women were studying journalism compared to men. This trend also comes in Britain as more women are taking places at university courses.

Despite that, there is a similarity between the two countries – more men are getting jobs, an issue cited in research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. What does this research mean when it comes to the transition from degree to employment?

Recently, Kettle Magazine, the publication to which I work for, did a Women’s season, devoting 4 weeks to women’s issues and portrayals. I wrote a piece on how the issue plays out among Kettle’s 28 editors, 23 of whom are women, indicative of current educational trends and against the culture of the industry.

Indeed, research cited by the Epigram student newspaper of the University of Bristol in England showed that 64 percent of student publications in the UK have a female editor or co-editors where one is female.

In addition, the chairs of the Student Publication Association in this and the previous academic year are women – Jem Collins for 2015-16, and Sophie Davis for 2014-15. For the record, Kettle is a member publication of the SPA, and I hold a personal membership. Collins did not respond to requests for an interview for this blog post.

Yet, What I found among my colleagues was while the concern of sexism was present, the main focus was on the journalism. However, women can play a role in changing the norm, as my colleague Kealie Mardell said in the piece.

However, my colleague Rebecca Parker says it’s quite the opposite when it comes to women entering the industry in the UK. Parker was able to find a job almost immediately after finishing her degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, and says it’s all down to being proactive.

“It’s just in a state of flux at current,” Parker said in an email interview with SPJ. “The issue of the decline in print meant that there were a lack of job prospects, however as the media moves in sync with the digital age, more job opportunities are becoming available.”

Parker notes however there are still some issues, but they can be solved.

“It is merely an individual’s motivation and drive that will allow them to succeed, regardless of gender. I do acknowledge that women are not equal in terms of pay and this needs to be addressed accordingly in the form of campaigns, however women can only achieve this by what they’re already doing – working hard and being proactive.”

It is unclear in light of these trends what the response will be as far as the media industry is concerned in London and across the UK. However, these trends raise the question of should there be change in Britain, would other countries, like the US, follow?

For the moment, the ball is in the industry’s court.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ International Journalism Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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