Representation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in the Journalism

Representation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in the Journalism

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Representation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in the Journalism

Research indicates that women and ethnic minorities are relatively underrepresented in journalism, especially in newspapers. A study conducted in 2010 showed that only 33% of women reporters work in newspapers, while 44% are work in newspapers[1]. The issue of gender equality in the media has been discussed for a long time, yet it seems that there has not been much change done. This does not seem right, especially in developed countries, which have fought for equal representation in all sectors. In the UK, research conducted by The Guardian indicated that the country’s major publications do not have equal representation of women. The research revealed that only 22.6% of the reporters in major publications are women. The research included major newspapers in the country, which included The Guardian, The Independent, The Mail, The Mirror, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Time, Today, and Today Progressive. The mail had the highest representation of women at 32.9%, while Today Progressive had the least representation at 15.4%. Women and ethnic minorities have to break the glass ceiling in the journalism industry so that they can make it in the field.

The number of female students taking journalism courses has increased in recent years. In the UK, almost half of the students in journalism schools are female[2]. This figure is however not reflected in the workplace. The industry is male dominated, as there are fewer women employed in this area. Media companies discourage people who might be interested in working in the field because of the low starting salaries. Unlike some professions, journalism is demanding and most people are not able to combine it with other professions. Some of them feel that the salaries offered are not adequate to cater for their expenses, and they opt to study, and train in other careers. Women, especially those who have their own families, face many challenges in their careers. They have to balance between family and work, and this often causes many challenges. Some women cannot handle the pressure of maintaining their families and working as journalists, and they end up giving up on their careers. Most media companies do not offer women with families, the support they need to work, and at the same time take care of their families. Women decry the fact that employers have failed to provide child support and childcare facilities, and this has discouraged women with children from working as journalists[3]. The lack of flexible work schedules discourages women from working as journalists, and most of them prefer working in areas that are more flexible[4].

Women have to face the domineering male culture in the newsroom. This can be intimidating for some of them, and it might cause them to quit, thus reducing the number of women in the industry. Some company owners, managers and top executives are male chauvinists[5]. They do not believe that women are capable of handling tough or demanding jobs, and they do not consider them for positions in the media houses. This means that even the women employed do not get high positions. They have to contend with lower positions, and this discourages some women, especially those who have high qualifications. Women are often discouraged by the unequal pay they often receive. In most cases, British male journalists earn more than women do in the same position despite the fact that they have the same qualifications and experience. In some cases, their employers justify the lower pay by giving the women different job titles, yet they do the same tasks like the men[6]. Some women tend to shy away from negotiating strong contracts with their employers. They end up getting less pay and fewer benefits than the men, who are usually tough negotiators[7]. Women have to face unfair societal attitude, which denies them the chance of success. The society views women as generally soft and gentle in nature, and does not expect them to be as demanding as men. Women are passionate and driven often have to face derogatory remarks from their male colleagues. While praise worthy qualities are heaped on men, women who do the same job are often seen as demanding and irritating[8]

Ethnic minorities are also underrepresented, especially in print media. Most of the black and Asian British are employed in broadcast journalism[9]. Research indicates that only 1% of Indian and Pakistani origin and 1% of African and Caribbean origin are represented in journalism. This is a small representation of the ethnic minorities in the country. The cause for this are two fold, in the sense that employers in the news media have not accepted ethnic minorities, and many ethnic minorities do not consider journalism a lucrative career[10]. Many employers are prejudiced and they do not want to hire ethnic minorities, although they might have equal opportunities with the others. Many ethnic minorities are not drawn towards studying journalism. They are aware of the prejudice and the discrimination they will face in the profession, and they therefore take alternative courses. Some ethnic minorities feel that journalism does not offer worthwhile and profitable opportunities. The white male culture in newsrooms discourages people from different ethnic background.

More than half of the British blacks work in the black print media. The presence of different black centered newspapers and magazines means that there is a high population of the black community readers and writers. Chamber et al. note that some of the publications focused on British blacks. Such as Ebony, Eastern Eye and Black on Black hire black journalists, but they usually have a white director[11]. This could be an indication of the mentality that the people have on their abilities. If the publications hire blacks to write the articles, then it means that they are capable of directing the publications.

Some publishers feel that journalist from ethnic minority communities are not equipped or qualified to handle tasks concerning serious issues in the country such as politics and economics. This is despite evidence proving otherwise. Some of the journalists from ethnic minority communities are well versed with national issues, but they are not given adequate views to present their opinion[12]. Some people claim that they are not racists, since they are cordial towards people from ethnic minorities. They have become more tolerant, and they have accepted people from different ethnic communities. The society might not show this form of racism in a way that is more pronounced, but there are emerging forms of racism in news reports in the press, and television programs and movies[13]

The fact that some groups are underrepresented in the media means that some elements are lost in news coverage. Women and ethnic minorities can add more to the media, but they are not able to do so since they do not have a platform. They will cover news in different social and cultural perspectives, which is not present in the current coverage. The news content is not culturally informed because the ethnic minorities are underrepresented. For instance, a news reporter with an Islamic background will cover news related to Islam in a better and in-depth manner, than a local journalist who has little knowledge of Islam. In the same way, a woman will cover news concerning women issues in a way that is more informed, than a man who claims to know much about women. The two reporters have a clear understanding of the issues they cover.

The presence of ethnic minorities in the news enhances the global coverage. This is an important element, as the world has become more global. People have become more interested in the news happening around the world, and including the ethnic minorities will give the viewers or the readers a wider scope. The inclusion of women in the news changed the way that news was presented. Women have redefined the news and they have added the newsworthy topics. They are more in touch with the society, and they therefore bring relevant stories, which appeal to a wider audience. They have covered quality social issues that were not covered previously, and they have included people who were previously ignored. They have continued to enhance education, by bringing relevant issues affecting the general population. Women do not just give their opinion, or the facts when presenting the news, but they cover news with a human perspective[14] . By doing this, they have ensured that everyone is covered in the news, and this has made people feel that they matter.

People from ethnic minorities in journalism, are more likely to cover the news that affects them more. They are more likely to cover the challenges they face when living in that particular society, thus exposing the social ills such as discrimination, prejudice and racism that is present in the society. Many people are not satisfied with the way the media portrays people from ethnic minorities. Generally, the media tends to ignore issues facing ethnic minorities. In some cases, they represent them more as perpetrators of crime rather than the victims. The media portrays them as scapegoats, and as the major causes of conflict and social problems. Some of the major topics that are more likely to be associated with ethnic minorities include lawbreakers such as drug dealers and mugging, low paid workers, illegal immigrants, and rioters among others. They are blamed for social ills such as being a threat to job security in the country, and lone parents. The media does not do much to highlight the achievements of ethnic minorities such as those who have excelled in sports or music[15].

The media is not concerned with minority ethnic victims of crime. It does not feature them with the same magnitude it features white victims[16]. Including ethnic minorities in the media will ensure that the affected communities are seen in a positive way. Journalists with an ethnic minority background will seek to know more about the negative issues presented. They will try to find the causes, the source, and all the perpetrators of the crime. They will seek to understand why other people from minority communities are involved in crime and in other social ills affecting the society. They will conduct in-depth investigation and analysis on the issue. The way the journalists present issues reflects his perspectives concerning an issue. Journalists are more likely to present issues that capture their interest. If they feel strongly about an issue, and they support it, then they will present it in a positive manner. They influence the way the society thinks. Many people rely on the news from television and newspapers as their main source. They will therefore tend to believe what the reports say unless emerging evidence proves otherwise.

Women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in journalism, especially in the main national newspapers. This is despite the fact that they have the same qualifications as the mostly white male journalists. It is important to have a larger proportion of women and people from different ethnic communities in journalism. This is because they will widen the scope of news coverage, by giving different perspectives concerning diverse issues. The society takes heed of what they read in the newspapers and watch on television. If the dominant journalists continue to represent different ethnicities in a negative way, then the society is going to view them that way. It is important to include ethnic minorities so that they can present their communities in a positive way, and influence the society positively. Women are an important feature in journalism because they have managed to change the way news is presented. Employers should ensure that they support women in their careers by giving them the necessary support. This will go a long way towards ensuring that equality is achieved.

Bibliography

Anderson, Peter, and Geoff Ward. The Future of Journalism in the Advanced Democracies. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007

Browne, Ken. Introducing Sociology for AS Level. Cambridge: Polity, 2006

Chambers, Deborah, Linda Steiner, and Carole Fleming. Women and Journalism. London: Routledge, 2004

Cottle, Simon. Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries. Buckingham: Open University Press, 2000

Gauntlett, David. Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2002

McAthy, Rachael. Women ‘Significantly Underrepresented’ in the Media, Survey Suggests. Last modified September 30, 2010, http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/women–039-significantly-underrepresented-039-in-the-media-survey-suggests/s2/a540791/

Jaffer, Nabeelah. Underrepresentation of Ethnic Minorities in British Press. Last modified February 23, 2012, http://journomania.net/opinion/35-opinion/575-underrepresentation-of-ethnic-minorities-in-british-press.html

Thane, Pal, and Liza Filby. Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain Since 1945. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010.

Van Zoonen, Liebet. 1994. Feminist Media Studies. London: Sage.

Zoonen van Liesbet. Feminist Media Studies. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

[1] Rachael McAthy. Women, ‘Significantly Underrepresented’ in the Media, Survey Suggests, last modified September 30, 2010, http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/women–039-significantly-underrepresented-039-in-the-media-survey-suggests/s2/a540791/