South Africa is celebrating Women’s Day this week but recent research by Media Tenor SA shows that women remain underrepresented in news coverage. TheMediaOnline reports.
In a research study entitled, ‘A Woman in a Man’s World’, Media Tenor SA analysed 90,853 reports in 37 international television news shows. The picture seems to be bleak on both local and international front.
“Women are consistently underrepresented in the media with females making up only 14% of coverage in South African and global television news programmes,” says the report.
This is the conclusion reached, based on 6 306 reports on six South African news programmes, and 1 174 reports in South African print and broadcast media on women in Africa, for the period 1 January to 23 July 2013.
“This is not only a South African problem, but a global phenomenon where Western Europe fares the best at 16% representation and Asia the worst at 7% representation. In Africa, women make up 13% of the protagonists in television news media.”
To make matters worse, many of the South African women newspapers were protrayed by the media in a “less empowering light”, according to the report.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega, who received a grilling during cross-examination before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the shooting death of miners at Marikana in Rustenburg, was one of the women who received negative coverage. Model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead by her boyfriend, paralympian Oscar Pistorius, also received negative coverage.
“Fortunately, strong female role models like humanitarian Graca Machel and former Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have also been garnering media attention,” reads the report.
“It is no small feat to be a woman in a man’s world, but women like Dlamini-Zuma have accepted the challenge with poise and grace. She has managed to garner ideal volumes of media coverage and consistently good tonality at 10%. This kind of media coverage is not easy to achieve, as many others like Riah Piyega who have not been in the media’s favour can attest to,” said Media Tenor SA researcher Minnette Nieuwoudt.
Those who received the most positive coverage are SA Reserve Bank governor Maria Ramos, politician Winnie Mandela, Dlamini-Zuma, and humanitarian Graca Machel.
Steenkamp received the most negative coverage, followed by Phiyega, Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela and former mining boss Cynthia Carroll.
“Some women were portrayed by the media in a less than stellar light like police commissioner Riah Phiyega and deceased model Reeva Steenkamp, however, a strong female role model in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma managed to garner attention as the respected leader of the African Union,” says the report.
The South African women who were most reported on were: Phiyega, Machel, Dlamini-Zuma, Steenkamp, Madikizela-Mandela, Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele, Carroll, Makaziwe Mandela, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, former SABC group executive Lulama Mokhobo, ABSA boss Maria Ramos and Marcus.
Outside South Africa, women remained consistently under-represented in various regions of the world.
“Western Europe fared the best, but even there where strong female leaders like Angela Merkel have been making an impact, women still seem to struggle for relevance on the global media agenda.
“Breaking the glass ceiling is not just a struggle for women in their professional development, but also transcends to their global relevance.”