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Educating the media

The media reflect general tendencies in societies. As the extent and causes of violence against women and girls are still widely unknown or misunderstood, journalists may need to be educated and encouraged to cover VAW in a sensitive manner. Concrete, constructive guidance should be offered as to how reporters can improve their coverage of VAW and related issues – rather than blaming reporters for gender-insensitive reporting.

Specific training for media representatives may be helpful. Inviting well-known journalists or government officials to training events is likely to increase attendance.

Example: In their campaign against domestic violence in Uganda, Raising Voices, Action Aid and the Ugandan NGO NAWOU conducted a seminar with 30 senior journalists and the Minister of Information. On the evening of that meeting, all three major TV stations and 18 radio stations reported on a story that was discussed at the meeting, and coverage of the campaign issues continued over the subsequent monitoring period. Raising Voices had provided a checklist to encourage the journalists to report in a balanced manner.

Tools:

The Inter-Press Service (2009) provides guidance for journalists in its booklet Reporting Gender-Based Violence: A Handbook for Journalists.

The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma provides a range of tips and tools for journalists, editors and managers, covering issues of violence, including sexual violence and domestic violence.  

The communications specialists Lola Mora and WorldCom Foundation have published comprehensive guidelines for journalists and educational institutions with the title Desafiando el silencio – Medios de Comunicación contra la Violencia Sexual EduKit (Challenging the Silence – An educational kit on sexual violence). The educational kit contains a host of practical tips and useful links for appropriate communication on sexual violence.

A key focus area for Gender Links, a Southern African NGO, is the transformation of gender relations in and through the media. They conduct research, training, and create and share content that shows how gender can be integrated into media outputs, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by information technology and strengthening the communication skills of gender activists as well as women in decision-making. The group has pioneered gender and media literacy courses, and they also host the secretariat of the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) network. See their courses for the media on covering gender violence.

Media Guide (Advocacy Expert Series): Designed for civil society organisations involved in advocacy work, this Pact Tanzania guide aims to build practical skills to more effectively engage with reporters, journalists, and broadcasters. It looks at the different roles of the media, describes the benefits of working with the media, provides some basic skills on using the media, and shows how different organisations can link with the media to share information with the public.  

"Mission Possible": A Gender and Media Advocacy Training Toolkit by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) was developed as part of the Gender and Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which was started in 1995 to research, analyze and advocate for a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media. The toolkit seeks to de-mystify the media, and gender and media advocacy by illustrating through concrete steps, case studies, pointers, tips and information, the actions that can be taken to change gender representation in and through the media, including changing how the media portrays gender-based violence for example. The resources are available in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. 

Redefining HERstory Toolkit by Truth in Reality contributes to changing the way women of color and violence are portrayed in the media, especially on reality television. Through digital advocacy, public awareness campaigns and educational programs, the aim is to change society’s acceptance of gender-based violence and ultimately reduce its incidence in the Black community.  Available in English.

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