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Where are all the women?

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As funding for NUJ Scotland’s Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project comes to an end, it’s important to recognise the many achievements of women journalists in Scotland, but there’s still much work to be done – by Fiona Davidson, women’s project worker.

Women are still outnumbered by men in the media – especially in senior editorial roles – but women are making their mark and being heard, more so than ever.

While there are still few women at the top, Mandy Rhodes is the editor of the leading Scottish political Holyrood Magazine, Catriona MacInnes is acting editor of the Dundee Courier, Suzanne Lord is deputy head of news at STV, Jackie Newton is editor of Reporting Scotland, Shelley Jofre is editor of BBC Scotland Investigations and Nicole Kleeman is managing director of leading independent production company Firecrest Films, to name a few.

Women journalists are making their mark in the workplace too with more MoCs (mothers of the chapel) and equality reps ensuring women’s voices are heard.  Within the National Union of Journalists we have increased representation of women on the Scottish Executive Council and union/black activist Layla-Roxanne Hill will be the first woman to represent Scotland on the NUJ’s National Executive Council for several years when she takes up her role later this month.

So women in the media in Scotland certainly have a stronger voice, and the launch of Women in Journalism Scotland just over a year ago can take much of the credit for that.  In fact it was the launch of WIJ Scotland that inspired NUJ Scotland’s Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project, funded by the STUC via the Government’s Trade Union, Fair Work and Modernisation Fund.

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Making headlines – why language matters when reporting violence against women – by Kirsty Strickland

Journalist Kirsty Strickland (@kirstystricklan) writes for NUJ Scotland about the importance of use of language in news headlines to raise awareness of violence against women and dispel common myths and misconceptions as part of the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project.

In the aftermath of the harassment scandal sparked by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein a movement emerged which dominated the news agenda for the latter part of 2017.

One of the most powerful and influential elements of this news coverage was the clear link made between men abusing power and wider structural inequality. Inevitably, what followed was a predictable and misogynistic suggestion that women who spoke out may be lying or maliciously over-reacting to their experiences to gain fame or money. Broadly speaking though, the power dynamic of the individuals involved (and the imbalance between them) was discussed and analysed meaningfully across various media platforms.

For women, this wasn’t new information. We understand that violence against women is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. But for media outlets to make this connection and dedicate time to discussing it properly was something new and refreshing.

It’s important to acknowledge though, that had the initial story not focused on the conduct of famous men it’s unlikely that the women speaking out about harassment and sexual abuse would have been given such a receptive audience. Continue reading


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Online abuse of women journalists is a major threat to free speech and democracy

By Fiona Davidson, project worker, A Stronger Voice for Women in the Media

Women journalists are no strangers to violence – in the newsroom, on the front line and in cyberspace.  In fact online abuse is a growing problem for journalists and the nature directed at women is particularly vile, insidious and threatening.

However cyberbullying of women journalists is not merely a gender issue.  It is silencing women at a time when women in the media need to be heard.  And if it means journalists are avoiding certain stories, that is a major problem for free speech and democracy.

Violence is not part of the job
World Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was on 25 November, marking the start of 16 days of activism. Continue reading


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NUJ sponsor best news article category in Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

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The NUJ is delighted to be sponsoring an award at this year’s Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

The NUJ has been supporting the awards since their launch and this year, the fifth year, will be sponsoring the ‘Best Article – News’ category.

The union has been working to shine a light on the issue of women’s representation both by the media and in the media.

Violence against women is often in the news, especially now. It is on a spectrum ranging from victim blaming, locker room banter and sexist attitudes to violence, rape and murder.

Even apart from recent and current events, its prevalence in society makes it a ‘hot topic’ for reporters and its complex nature makes it an interesting issue for feature writers. However, the fact that violence against women is so complex can mean that even journalists with the best of intentions can misrepresent some of the issues and perpetuate myths that are harmful to women. Continue reading


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STUC women back NUJ campaign to stop media sexism

Delegates at the STUC women’s conference unanimously backed an NUJ motion to improve representation of women in the press and stop media sexism.

The motion calls on women and trade unionists to fight back and call out examples of poor treatment of women by the media and to press for responsible reporting standards demonstrating respect for women, eliminating objectification and sexualisation and focusing on their ideas, abilities and achievements rather than their appearance, personal life and how they dress.

The conference was held in Glenrothes, Fife from 30 to 31 October 2017.  Freelance journalist Claire Sawers of Edinburgh freelance branch moved the motion on behalf of the NUJ.

She said “We at the NUJ share the same frustrations as our sisters here. We find ourselves back, once again, talking about the various ways that our colleagues in the media continue to misrepresent women. Each of you will have examples, sometimes very recent ones, of ways that women are sexualised, blamed, humiliated and discriminated against.

“The problem doesn’t only apply to women being reported on in the media. It affects women employed in the media too. Continue reading


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NUJ Scotland welcomes Engender’s Gender Matters Roadmap and call for end to sexism in the media #ScotFemFuture #NUJ

NUJ Scotland welcomes Engender’s Gender Matters Roadmap for Scotland and its work tackling the impact of sexism on all women regardless of ability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or background.

“The media has an important role to play in shaping public attitudes and is hugely influential in maintaining stereotypical views about women,” said Fiona Davidson, women’s project worker, with NUJ Scotland, a project to improve the representation of women working in the media and how women are portrayed by the media.

“The public’s stereotypical attitudes about gender roles are often perpetuated and reinforced by the media.  This is particularly blatant when it comes to reporting violence against women and the prevalence of ‘victim blaming’. Continue reading


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Time to end clumsy coverage of violence against women says Dani Garavelli

Freelance journalist Dani Garavelli was invited by NUJ Scotland to write an article about women and the media as part of the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project.  The aim of the project is to improve representation of women working in the media and how women are represented by the media.

 

THE CLUMSINESS the media often demonstrates in its coverage of violence against women was on display again last week in a tweet posted by Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey. Plugging a feature on that day’s show, she wrote: “Tom raped his girlfriend: he tells us why.” In those eight words, an act that drove Thordis Elva to the brink of despair was reduced to a piece of click-bait. Continue reading