Media Managers Advocate Gender Parity in Newsroom

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Amma Ogan

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TO redress the imbalance in the ratio of women to men in media organisations in Nigeria, media owners and managers have been urged to ensure gender parity in their newsrooms. The call was made on Friday, March 11, during a tweet chat organised by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism to commemorate the International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Gender Parity in the Newsroom.’

In the conversation led by Amma Ogan, former director of editorials, NEXT Newspaper and Funke-Treasure Durodola, general manager, Radio One FM, the discussants argued that there was an urgent need to ensure that more women occupied top editorial positions and posted to cover major beats in the news media. While the achievements of some women in the media were acknowledged, discussants said more women should be given equal opportunities like their male counterparts to maximise their potentials.

Media managers were also urged to create an inclusive, flexible culture in the newsroom as well as work towards gender balance for leadership positions. According to Durodola, the mind-set of assigning female journalists to soft beats instead of the harder news should change to achieve gender parity. “How many women are in political desks in newsrooms? Or defence…” she asked.  She, however, urged women who were given the opportunity to lead to consciously work on being different, mentor others and break new grounds.

In her contribution, Ogan said that media organisations should incorporate gender parity from ‘the newsroom to boardroom.’ According to her, “You need an assigning editor who is aware of and understands why gender parity matters. Gender parity awareness promotes itself. Assigning editors must make the right choices.”

Other contributors noted that women had demonstrated that they could be trusted with more responsibilities in the newsroom based on the performance of those who had been in leadership positions over time. They called for strong advocacy to protect women’s parity considering instances where some female journalists were been forced to resign or were sacked under difficult bosses.

Some discussants raised questions on how women struggle to be recognised in the newsroom while others stated that women had more domestic responsibilities than men, hereby limiting their growth or participation in the newsroom. The media was also urged to celebrate the voice of women and their achievement in the newsroom and male journalists were charged to encourage their female counterparts.

The chat started at about 11:00am with a brief introduction of the WSCIJ Project, Report Women, which focuses on girls and women issues in Nigeria. The WSCIJ under the initiative has trained 80 journalists and commissioned 31 stories. It has also published a documentary titled, Report Women: ‘The Untold Stories of Girls and Women,’ which is available on YouTube.

The organisation used the opportunity of the chat to celebrate top female journalists, past and present, including Anike Agbaje-Williams, the first female broadcaster at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN; the late Remi Oyo, former managing director, News Agency of Nigeria and president the Nigeria Guild of Editors; Bimbo Oloyede, a veteran broadcaster who has a four-decade experience; the late Bilikisu Yusuf, columnist with Daily Trust and Funke Egbemode, managing director and editor-in-chief, New Telegraph, among others.

—  Mar 14, 2016 @ 14:35 GMT

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