Ensure gender balance in your coverage, journalists advised

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Nairobi,KENYA:Media owners have been urged to improve their content and diversity in news coverage by including women in their conversations.

During a media workshop organized by Media Focus on Africa, Prof. Kimani Njogu CEO of Twaweza Communication noted with concern that most of the time men are given more coverage as compared to their female counterparts.

Prof. Njogu told Baraka FM that news items principally focus on male politicians and that there is need for gender sensitivity.

” During interviews men are given a platform to talk about issue based politics but for women focus is on their families and trivial matters such as their hairdo or where they shop their clothes from,” Prof. Njogu

“When gauging prominence the same yardstick used on males should be the same used on females. When women talk about some issues like water or health they are considered feminine and irrelevant. However when men talk about the same these are considered pertinent issues in the society,’ “ hecontinued.

He added that such occurrences encourage stereotyping in the society since the media has the role of agenda setting and changing perceptions.

Veteran journalist Christine Nguku advised journalists that the two-thirds gender rule can also be applied when reporters are sourcing for contacts.

“They can ensure their bulletins, features and documentaries have included both  male and female voices in a balanced manner,” she said.

Executive Director Mzalendo Trust Jessica Musila said that biased coverage has enabled the public lens to view the woman primarily as a sexual being.

“Women in Parliament are working hard for their constituents but sometimes they are perceived as divorced women who cannot keep their families together,” she added.

Nation Media Group Editor Njeri Rugene however cautioned women against playing the gender card when involved with issues of malpractice.

“In case you are mentioned in a scandal it is the role of the media to investigate and get verification on the issue. Even when men are suspects the same intensive follow up is carried out,” she concluded.