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Struggles of a Female Journalist

How harassment, discrimination, and a culture of male dominance drive women out of journalism.

To be a journalist, a person has to be daring, bold, tenacious, curious, and even passionate. They require a continuous honest evaluation of occurring events and make them eminent and celebrated before it loses its rawness. They ensure the attainability of news to the masses by penning them down on newspapers and magazines by being their employees or freelancer. Journalism dates back to the 1400s. During the 18th century, for the upheaval of literacy and engagement in politics, the need for news increased, and since then, we see journalists hurtling around, in and out of the world of media. Journalism is like the “voice, shrieking out the opinions of the ordinary and helps to be the bridge between the authorities and citizens, letting each one of us know what’s happening around. It plays a paramount role in a democratic country, especially like India, with so many political parties and simultaneous inciting events, since democracy is by the people, for the people, and of the people. Journalism helps in the formulation of unbiased opinions and gives those opinions an excellent direction to be voiced.

Journalism can be done in 5 different ways: investigative, news, reviews, columns, and feature-writing:

  1. Investigative journalism aims to uncover the truth about a particular subject, person, or event.
  2. News journalism is straightforward. It relays facts without flourishes or interpretation.
  3. Reviews are partly opinion and partly fact-based. The review needs to pull off two elements: one, precisely interpret or establish the subject being reviewed, and two, provide an original and informed opinion of the material, based on investigation and experience.
  4. Columns are based primarily on the personality of the author, allowing him or her to write about subjects in a personal style.
  5. Feature writing provides scope, depth, and interpretation of trends, events, topics, or individuals.

With the dreadful journey of equality, we tend to see female journalists peering up, even against the odds that society presents to them. We will now examine the struggles they face during their job. Since time immemorial, journalism has remained a male-dominated profession, and females face problems during promotions or high pay scales. At times women are not considered a good fit for the job by a larger section of the society and face tremendous criticism.

In different high-risked events like elections, females, however capable, are preferred less and are generally put down whenever challenging assignments come up. Women aren’t put as foreground in activities. International Women Media Foundation (2010) surveyed “Global report on the status of women in the news media”, the larger part of the news coverage workforce across districts was found in the two words related dimensions, the lesser expert dimension was observed to be male-commanded, with almost 66% (63.9%) of the positions held by men, contrasted with ladies (36. 1%). Men fall nearly three-fourths (73.2%) of the employments in the specialized proficient dimension, with ladies a little more than a fourth (26.8%). This activity classification incorporates a camera, sound, and lighting faculty–employment essentially connected with the generation of communicated news.

Measurably, this finding is noteworthy. The sex design indicated by this discovery is clear: This gathering of occupations is commonly held by men in every one of the seven areas except for Saharan Africa, where people are genuinely near equality. In that area, a few countries (e.g., Namibia, Zimbabwe) have almost equivalent quantities of ladies and men in this acting class. Men around 66% (65.6%) of the creation and configuration employments, with ladies just a third (34.4%). This classification incorporates illustrations, planners, picture takers, artists, closet fashioners, and others in the innovative jobs of news creation. This study demands that in the field of journalism, male domination is still alive. The technical part of media men is more active than women. But it denoted some exceptions in this study. Some countries have nearly equal numbers of women and men in this job category. But facts don’t differ in the scenario that women’s participation is very less in the news production.

Because of male chauvinism and patriarchy, female journalists are victims of verbal abuse, harassment, and prejudices due to blurred visions and irrational perceptions of people outside and even in the domain of their profession. Increased dominance of men and their insatiable desires make female journalists prone to sexual harassment from their colleagues. They do not report the crime most of the time because of stigmas and threats. The Tarun Tejpal case of sexual harassment of a female colleague is still fresh on the pages of every print media in the country which can’t be easily wiped.

In 2017, several notable female journalists came forward with the #MeToo movement to report sexual harassment at their workplaces. Females are rarely portrayed as role models in our day-to-day lives, which fail to prove them as strong individuals having their own stands and opinions. People argued that the shortage of attention-grabbing fictional roles, the absence of female newsreaders, and the poor representation of women within senior media positions had a profound impact on how women were seen in society as a whole. That becomes a primary reason behind ill behaviour with the women of our society. They face unkempt working conditions, which offer hindrances to their working efficiency.

PANDAY (2011)

According to Panday’s work- Still a Male Preserve, Women in Bangladeshi News Industry, “Reporting: Why Are Women Not Coming? most of the newspaper offices and media rooms are not women-friendly. He noted that some media institutions do not even provide a separate washroom for women. Panday noted that “since women are dwarfed by a dominated male presence, they feel like a fish out of water and intimidated by their colleague. Having so many barriers forcefully imposed on them, they experience work-life balance issues when they have to travel long distances or have overtime schedules or night shifts. They have ill-timings of reaching home, which gives rises to safety issues. When women engage in crime-related journalism, they risk their safety and even lives, since they meddle with the lives of posh and powerful people. These powerful and posh individuals use their power of goons and mad money and turn the consequences bad, and as a result, many lives get ruined. Women face traumatic disorders for their prolonged stays at different work climaxes like wars and bad environments, including drug addicts, sex workers, etc.

GABRIEL ARANA (2015)

The article “A mental–health epidemic in the newsroom” says that “A 2001 study found that upwards of 85 percent experience work-related trauma. Other research shows that 4 to 28 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder over the course of their careers, and up to 20 percent experienced depression.” Even when psychological symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, and anxiety don’t rise to the level of a disorder, they still take a toll. Those covering natural disasters or war are not the only ones who suffer. It turns out that almost all journalists are exposed to traumatic-stress experiences. For home-making or babysitting mothers, journalism becomes huge trouble while ferociously rushing for information or pictures and having to manage home altogether.

This profession is becoming heinous for females day by day, especially with increasing safety issues. Women don’t get the necessary coverage of talents through their works since some media conglomerates have some strict checking over the male-female ratio. Since time immemorial, women haven’t indeed been given the proper work just in virtue of gender. Mothers have issues in their workplaces having hurdles in maintaining their work-life balance continuously, which should be terminated. They should be given proper facilities pre and post-childbirth. Females should be provided with good conditioned offices, especially the washrooms. Journalists already have a lot of crests and troughs to go through, and they should not be meddled badly anymore by society and co-workers and bosses, just based on gender. Safety of women should be minutely looked upon, and we should make the offices a safe place for them, without which females can never outgrow their own limits. Last but not least, women should be allowed to voice their powerful opinions, and this could be a step towards a very organized future.

“It’s a journalist’s job to be a witness to history. We’re not there to worry about ourselves. We’re there to try and get as near as we can, in an imperfect world, to the truth and get the truth out.”–Robert Fisk.

Written by: Urjesha Bakshi
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