Dis(miss)ed: The missing women in a women-dominated news program

ABSTRACT

Women comprise 49.85% of the Philippine population in 2011, according to a World Bank report. Such percentage in the population needs to be informed in order to maximize their contribution to society. One way of educating and mobilizing women is through media. Media should therefore show and tell women’s stories in their most objective ways.

This study explores the representation of the plight of the women’s sector through the coverage of the women-dominated news program, State of the Nation with Jessica Soho (SONA). It also sought to identify if the domination of women employees in the decision-making positions of the news program significantly affects their news coverage about women and their issues. The researcher analyzed the news aired by the news program from November 26 to December 25, 2012 since the said duration also covered the ‘16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women (VAW)’ from November 25 to December 10, the International Human Rights Day being the culminating activity. It was a major annual campaign launched by the international women’s movement since 1999.

To analyze the connection of the news production process to its by-product, the researcher measured the manifest and latent content of the video materials. First, the manifest (emphasis) content was measured by evaluating the news videos’ duration and presence of a woman or a group of women in a frame. The latent (tendency and focus) content was then determined through the recurrent themes discussed in the stories. The results of the content analysis were validated by the data obtained from the interviews with news gatherers (reporters) and processors/ managers (producers).

The researcher discovered that it is indeed a myth to claim that the greater number of women employees in decision-making positions can lead to more women empowerment. Of the 228 news stories of SONA, only 26 were related to women 10 of which are personality-centered news while 16 discussed women’s issues.

In the news about women (personality-centered or issue-centered), there were 63 interviewees yet only 19 of them were female, 30% of the total number of female interviewees in the women-related news category, and 8% of female interviewees in the total number of news, women-related or not.

Indeed, the news coverage of SONA about women was not sufficient. There is a lack of knowledge among news gatherers and news processors on the issues that are deemed necessary by the women sector.

On a positive note, the relatively small proportion of women’s issues suggests that there is a room to move the news media’s attention away from the traditional events of politics, government, and business to cover other areas which women participate more fully. However, the media should broaden their search and achieve greater inclusiveness and diversity. Media practitioners, especially females, should be educated on the issues of their own gender and encouraged to propagate them to their sisters using the tool immediately available to them, the mainstream media.

Cordero, J. (2013). Dis(miss)ed: The missing women in a women-dominated news program. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

Keywords: women, women’s movement, news gatherers, news processors

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