Thursday, December 4, 2014

Looking through a Gendered Lens: The Media and Violence

Today, we met with 3 senior women journalists from the city to discuss gender sensitivity in the media and safety on the job, on and off-line for women. Kavitha Muralidharan from India Today and Ramya Kannan and Zubeda Hamid from The Hindu were in conversation with the Prajnya Team and touched upon a variety of issues related to gender violence and its depiction and coverage in the media across all formats.

From TV soaps in Hindi and Tamil to reality television and the unique problems it presents in terms of reinforcing existing gender stereotypes as well as re-victimizing vulnerable individuals, writing, form, content and presentation were critiqued. While charting several positive developments in prime time television, such as creating space for the depiction of same-sex couples and addressing sexual violence in some forums, there was also an overall sense of dismay at the incremental nature of change and the regressive tone evident in much of the programming.

Radio was identified  as a powerful medium for change and the rise in civic engagement in programming was also noted.

Analysing the print media, it was acknowledged that newsrooms have come a long way in achieving gender parity in hiring reporters. This was attributed to the number of colleges offering courses in journalism in both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and the increasing number of women graduating in these streams. It was also felt by all that the sexism encountered within organizations has also considerably diminished although there's still a long way to go in eliminating it completely. Issues of safety, especially on night shifts, still remain and have no express organizational policy directives driving them.

The conversation ended on a positive note with a commitment to explore further avenues of engagement with women journalists to discuss and challenge existing gender stereotypes in writing and broadcasting.

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