World Press Freedom Day Analysis

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One of the main themes UNESCO is focussing on during this year’s World Press Freedom Day is gender imbalance in the media. Today, women are still poorly represented in journalism and the media workplace.
In South Africa, women are scarcely found in the higher ranks of the country’s media organisations. They also earn on average less than their male equivalent does. Women earn approximately 20% less than men in the newsroom.
This according to a study done a decade ago by the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef). Though this is extremely old information we can assume not much has changed when taking into account more recent studies done in the UK and USA.
The latter studies show that women are also poorly represented in newspaper bylines.
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The abovementioned Sanef study found that discriminatory practices, patriarchy and sexism among other problems are still evident in the newsroom.
An ongoing problem is horizontal segregation, where women are restricted to specific subject matters. In the newsroom, women are regularly pushed to cover more lifestyle feature and soft news articles, often described as “pink topics.” These include covering fashion and makeup, cooking and food writing, features on home decorating and family.
An area where women are even scarcer is sport journalism, even though more women are actively following sport events than in the past. For the American sports channel, ESPN, 90% of their news editors are male. South Africa is a nation obsessed with sport, yet female sport journalists are rarely given a chance to succeed.
What’s noteworthy, however, is that women are cast as sports reporters more often than men, which is a good thing, however this is usually done in order to attract attention to the news station. These reporters often suffer harassment from fans and even the athletes they cover. Female sport journalists suffer an increased amount of critique because of a sexist society claiming women know less about sport than
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News photography positions at media organisations have been shrinking over the past decade no thanks to camera-happy smartphone wielders supplying the images anyone wants and needs. Though what’s more upsetting is the evident gender gap in this industry.
In a recent study done by State of News Photography, they found that large media organisations were less likely to employ female photographers (7%) than their male equivalent (22%). However, those women lucky enough to be employed were assigned less work than their male colleagues and were most likely to do part-time

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