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Media monitoring

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Media monitoring is the process by which one keeps track of the media coverage of issues related to the campaign. It is essential for any campaign that targets audiences who use the media, including traditional (newspapers, TV, radio) and new media sources (online news-sites, blogs etc). . 

One aspect is to monitor media coverage of the campaign issue: How does the media traditionally depict the campaign issue? How often does the issue get media coverage? Does the media present the campaign issue in a way that supports the campaign goals, or is it counterproductive?

Another aspect is to monitor media coverage of the campaign itself: Does the campaign receive any attention in the media? Are campaign media outreach activities resulting in the coverage desired? Despite limited coverage, have inquiries from the media to the campaign team increased?

A third aspect is to detect any media activity that may be detrimental to the campaign, or offer new opportunities: Are there any media reports that require a quick reaction from the campaign team (e.g. a letter to the editor as a response to an article that negatively portrays domestic violence survivors)? Are there any events that may clash with campaign activities resulting in the need to compete for media attention? Are there any media events that the campaign can ‘piggyback’ on to present its key messages (e.g. a government press conference to announce a new draft bill related to VAW)?

Effective media monitoring is planned in a strategic manner and based on research on the media landscape and the target audiences’ preferences in media use. Depending on available resources, a specialized “news clipping” service can be used to receive daily summaries of news including specific keywords defined beforehand (e.g. “campaign to end FGM/C”, “FGM/C”, and the name of the campaign). These types of services can be costly however. Alternatively, volunteer activists can scan daily media and report any mention of relevant issues to the campaign team. Given the high diversity of contemporary media, including the internet and micro-blogging via mobile phones (using Twitter for example), it is important to set priorities and focus on media channels and outlets that matter most to the campaign. For more guidance on how to engage with the media in a campaign, see Using the media.

Media monitoring as a campaign in itself

Media monitoring in itself may also be an independent subject of campaigning. For example, the Campaign against Sexist Advertisement, by the Colectivo Fem-TV in Peru, encourages media professionals to produce creative and exciting advertisements without violating human rights and especially women’s rights.

The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) which was started in 1995, is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication, and is the largest advocacy initiative in the world on changing the representation of women in the media. Many grassroots groups, activists and academic researchers from around the world participate in the initiative, monitoring media coverage on a specific day every five years, to assess the portrayal of women and men in the news. The findings have been used extensively by NGOs to advocate for more balanced and non-stereotyped representations of women and men in the media, in order to help change attitudes about gender-based violence and other social concerns. Women’s Media Watch in Jamaica is part of the GMMP and is one such organisation that works to improve how women and seen, heard and listened to in the media as one way of reducing violence against women.

See Mission Possible": A Gender and Media Advocacy Training Toolkit developed by WACC for case studies, tips and information on monitoring the media, including checklists that can be used to conduct a gender audit of a media institution, and a list of questions to conduct qualitative media monitoring.