“An event seen from one point of view gives one impression. Seen from another point of view, it gives quite a different impression. But it’s only when you get the whole picture, you can fully understand what’s going on” – The Guardian Newspaper (2007)
Media under represents women as reporters and news sources, and because of that, we as viewers and readers of the news, get an incomplete story. It is unbelievable that, in the 21st century, women would still be in that category. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, Women make up half of the population of the world, but constitute only 24 per cent of the news subjects quoted in news stories, and are 20 per cent experts quoted in stories. What is even more distressing is that fact that women are only 19 per cent of the stories on politics and 20 per cent in stories on the economy.
The news continues to give us a picture where men outnumber women in nearly all occupational categories. The problem is, of course, there are not enough women in newsrooms. They reported just 37 per cent of stories in print, TV and radio. Even in stories on gender based violence, men get an overwhelming majority of print space and airtime.
One of the most internationally popular case was depicted in the documentary based in India on the rape of a young girl in her early twenties. The documentary titled “India’s Daughter” showed how the society continued to blame the victim, and not the perpetrator, for the crime. The society raised fingers at the moral and conduct of the girl and her family, and how she was accompanied by her male friend late at night. Before the women took out on the streets, the male population did not question the perpetrators of the crime and why they committed such a gruesome act of violence? But, as soon as female reporters from all around the world revisited the story, what emerged was a truly horrific tale of a young girl who was brutally raped and tortured by a group of young men. Perhaps, the addition of female voices is what made this story more complete.
The Global Media Monitoring Project has found that stories by female reporters are more likely to challenge stereotypes than those by male reporters. Many of the stories on violence against women, that appear in our newspapers and magazines, tend to blame victims and devalue their lives. They tend to sensationalize, and they lack context. Moreover, stories in the news are more than twice as likely to present women as victims than men, and women are more likely to be defined by physical appearance.
It is important to have women as reporters and editors, particularly on sensitive issues concerning women. In Pakistan’s rural areas, covering issues related to females is a difficult question due to their cultural norms. Women are not allowed to talk to men outside of their families. In order to cover those stories, it is important to have more female reporters on ground who can unravel those unheard issues of the female population belonging to the rural areas.