Research into how media covers issues facing women has shows the South African government “barely gives notice” to challenges women here are confronted with on a daily basis. And key to changing the picture is promoting stories on women empowerment “throughout the year and not on particular events such as Women’s Month”, says global media analysis and intelligence organisation, Media Tenor.
The company released its latest findings ahead of South Africa’s Women’s Day on 9 August.
“Despite the positive coverage generated from President Zuma’s launch of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, share of coverage remains below the awareness threshold. It is essential that all government stakeholders increase efforts to communicate on the government’s role to end violence against women. This would assist with increasing the agenda on women on TV media,” Media Tenor said. “Promoting stories of women empowerment throughout the year and not on particular events such as Women’s Month is also key.”
Media Tenor’s research was designed to show how women are framed in South Africa and globally by examining various trends such as tone of coverage in local television versus global television media, how women are covered in various countries and sources speaking on women-related issues in South Africa.
Sadly, the group found stories on women are “largely shaped” by crime such as the murders of Reeva Steenkamp, Anni Dewani and more recently, Jayde Panayiotou. “This is primarily because crimes committed against females in the country gain media traction,” Media Tenor reports. At the same time, the South African government only talks about women empowerment as a central issue during events such as Women’s Month.
“This notion highlights the fact that South African women continue to fight for media space and remain dependent on topical events such as crime to raise awareness on matters relating to gender equality and violence against women,” Media Tenor found.
It said while prominent court cases such as that of Steenkamp’s murder have “to a certain extent raised awareness about crime against women”, South African media and government must “strengthen coverage on women empowerment thereby transforming the current perception of women, which is overshadowed by reports on crime”.
The media analytics company said the tone of coverage of women in South Africa has also “taken a knock”, particularly “with the murders of women that have taken place.
The report pointed out that a recent case generating substantial negative coverage was the murder of Panayiotou, a fairly new bride and teacher who was murdered in a plot allegedly implicating her husband. “We also still remember several murder cases such as that of Reeva Steenkamp and Anni Dewani, who also died at the hands of their spouses,” the report said.
The sentiments displayed by South African TV are also echoed by global TV media coverage on women. “However, while murder and abuse have been of key concern in SA’s case, women abroad are faced with issues such as terrorism and discrimination against women,” Media Tenor found.
The company pointed to the recent death of US citizen Sandra Bland in a police cell in the US. It said while TV share of coverage of women reached ‘awareness threshold’, the main image factors have also been crime-related – apart from Hillary Clinton’s running for office, which “boosted US volumes”.
“In addition, Spain and the UK faced similar stories. The murder of Spanish Peoples Party Politician, Isabel Carrasco and the murder of a UK teacher, Ann Maguire, increased coverage of females in both Spain and the UK said the report.
The research examined over 107 106 reports on 27 Global TV programs. This includes platforms such as the prime time news on SABC 1,2 and 3, e.tv, BBC, Telediario, Fox TV News.
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