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IFJ Calls on Unions to Confront Crisis of Gender Bias in the News

September 30, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for a new debate in newsrooms over reporting gender issues and gave its backing to a global campaign to combat sexist reporting.

The IFJ says it is time for a serious gender-sensitive reporting debate inside journalism and for action to support fair, non sexist reporting in the news following publication of a report showing that women are still significantly underrepresented and misrepresented in news media coverage.

"Bias in the portrayal of women and men in news content has a detrimental impact on the public's perception of gender roles in society," says Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, commenting on the results of a report by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP). "This report concludes that media around the world is failing to portray fairly more than a half of the world's population."

The Global Media Monitoring Project is the largest and longest running research and advocacy initiative on fair and balanced gender representation in news media. It is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC). This year's monitoring examined newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites in 108 countries.

According to its findings, only 24% of people heard, seen or interviewed in the news are women. The report finds that 46% of news stories reinforced gender stereotypes and that expert commentary is overwhelmingly male with only one female in every five experts. The age of women in the news is mentioned twice as often and their family status almost four times as often as for men. The report also shows that women make 37% of reporters all media combined and that women-led reporting is more likely to be gender balanced.

"These findings reflect how ethical values need to be strengthened in journalism," said White. "Unions must respond to this and must promote a new debate on the need for change."

Many IFJ affiliates took part in the GMMP monitoring this year and White paid tribute to their commitment. "It is time for more unions to make fair gender portrayal part of their gender equality campaigns and ensure that it becomes part of media priorities and trainings," he said. "This must be done together with fair recruitment procedures, equal access to leadership position and promotion, and equal treatment for everyone in the newsroom.'

National results of the GMMP will be announced in the upcoming weeks throughout the world. National events are organised around these launches and the IFJ invites its affiliates to coordinate with national GMMP coordinators.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 22 16

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