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Front-page of South Asian Newspapers Under Gender Lens

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By A Correspondent

"Front-page of South Asian newspapers under gender lens" report was released in Lucknow [Report is online at: www.citizen-news.org] by Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar and Citizen News Service – CNS. This report presents the summary analysis of an initial pilot research study comprising a month-long news monitoring, aggregation and gender analysis of the first page of prominent English newspapers in five South Asian countries.

The principal investigator of this study, Shobha Shukla, former Loreto Convent faculty and Editor CNS, said: “The study had five indicators: How many female journalists, compared to their male colleagues, got news stories with their by-lines published on front page of English newspapers; how many front-page news headlines carried names of female newsmakers compared to those featuring male newsmakers; how many female experts were quoted in the news on front-page compared to those featuring male experts; how many women were featured in the front-page news content as compared to men; and how many photographs of women were there on front-page as compared to those of men.”

Shobha added: “This CNS gender analysis yielded some startling results, with the data painting an overall picture of the dismal presence of women in front page media, as compared to their male counterparts. Barring very few cases (5 out of 25 to be precise), their presence (as per the above mentioned 5 indicators) ranged from 0% to 20%. Overall, Sri Lanka featured maximum number of females (27%) in one category or the other (based upon above mentioned indicators), followed by India and Bangladesh (19%), Pakistan (9%) and Nepal (9%).”

• India had maximum female journalists getting news stories with their by-lines (30%) published on front page of English newspapers compared to their male colleagues followed by Sri Lanka 15%, Pakistan 9.5%, Nepal 3.5%% and Bangladesh 0%.

• Bangladesh had most front-page news headlines carrying names of female newsmakers compared to those featuring male newsmakers (22%), followed by India (17%), Pakistan (16%), Sri Lanka (15%) and Nepal (0%).

• Sri Lanka had most female experts getting quoted in the news on front-page compared to those featuring male experts (17%) followed by Bangladesh (15%), India (12.5%), Pakistan (4%) and Nepal (2%).

• Sri Lanka had most front-page news content featuring women compared to those that featured men (44%) followed by India (20%), Bangladesh (20%), Pakistan (10.6%), and Nepal (6%).

• Sri Lanka had most photographs of women on front-page than those of men (31%) followed by Bangladesh (25%), India (18%), Nepal (17.5%), Pakistan (10%).

Shobha Shukla explained that this initial pilot research study was a very small attempt to look at very few newspapers (one randomly chosen from each of the five south Asian countries) and in no way is a comprehensive or accurate reflection of gender balance in news media of South Asian nations. But it does give some sense and initial trends that are alarming and may have stronger implications in shaping public opinion and how women related news are profiled. It is also important to study further about the impact of having female media personnel in decision-making positions in media organizations on gender balance in news media. 

[Source: Citizen News Service – CNS]

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