Tanzania media managers meet in Dar es Salaam for WIN Roundtable

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Betty Masanja, Panellist WIN Tanzania Roundtable stresses a point
CHRISTINE NGUKU

Tanzania’s Senior Editors are asking women in the media to make deliberate steady steps to influence news and other media content by adding women’s views and ensuring inclusion of women as sources. Panelists at the first Women In News (WIN) Media Roundtable held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said women journalists and sub-editors have an essential role to play in ensuring women’s voices are included not only in news but also in discussion and magazine programmes in broadcast media.

The editors said senior women journalists often decline to take advantage of their positions to invite women to speak and have their perspectives added to news content. Leah Mushi of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation said, “ Women settle for much less in terms of aspiring for management positions in media houses and frequently prefer to make horizontal movement in their career as heads of gender desks, features desks, society / family desks etc and hardly ever aspire to become managing editors” .

She also highlighted issues of ‘false promotion’ where women in the media are offered on screen appearance (news presentation), participation in media seminars and workshops and media trips which may not add value to their skills or give them any additional qualifications.

Another panllist Darius Mukiza cited the lack of effective gender policies in media houses saying, “I have visited many media organisations and I have not seen any gender policy in the country ‘s media houses which states clearly that there should be equal opportunity between men and women in leadership and management. This means development of a media policy would be a good starting point to sensitize media practitioners on gender balance and practice of gender sensitivity in newsrooms”.

Mukiza observed that Tanzania’s women journalists have a unique challenge, in that they shy away from writing in English, fearing criticism, while their male counterparts take up the challenge. He told women journalists to gather courage and venture into writing in English as an opportunity to stand outand to be noticed.

Betty Massanja, the interim chair of the Association of Journalism and Media Workers , said in some cases women are seen to be challenging male supervisors when they show their skills. “Women hide their expertise for fear of being victimized by supervisors who feel insecure in their positions, and in some cases skilled women have been fired unfairly” she noted.

She urged women in the media to use their skills and show that they are capable of management if they are to be recognised and assigned responsibilities of management in newsrooms. Media Analyst, Peter Ouma pointed out the need for diversification and specialization among women journalists. “ There is opportunity for women to enhance their skills and excel in specialized segments to become authorities in certain issues such as environment, politics, health, constitution and others. This will earn women journalists recognition and respect from those in media management” he said.

WIN East and Central Africa’s Project Manager Christine Nguku challenged media women to be on the lookout for opportunities in the media houses. “Study trends in the practice of journalism in order to keep up with emerging interests and enhance your managerial skills to position yourselves for appointment to management when openings come,” she added.

WIN Tanzania coach, Dr Joyce Bazira urged media women to courageous and seek to take up management tasks even whenever the opportunity arises in their respective media houses because that is when they get noticed. “ You gain experience by trying and trying again, and that’s how you get noticed – when your skills show and your performance of daily tasks is above average,” she said.

Media leaders meet in Nairobi to discuss gender gap in media management

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Women In News (WIN) hosted its first Round Table discussion with Kenyan media managers yesterday in Nairobi, to discuss the gender gap in media management and to create pathways to address it.

“Systematically, women have been excluded from decision-making in the Kenyan media landscape and this has to change. Media managers should realise the potential in women and tap into it. said Executive Director of Media Council of Kenya, Dr. Haron Mwangi.  “Programmes such as WIN help highlight that need”,

Dr.Mwangi also shared some alarming statistics on the representation of women in senior management in the media in Kenya adding that business is a key driver for media in this time of digital transformation – “ Digital is becoming ever important and it is opening opportunities for women, who  should be encouraged and supported to seize such opportunities,”, he said.

During her presentation, Merceline Nyambalo, Executive Director for the Association for Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) addressed the gender gap issue by saying  “Women’s voices in Kenya are muzzled and they are not being given prominence. The voices are too few to begin to impact on society. Women account for only 22 percent of the voices being heard in the media”, referring to the gender bias in news reporting.

According to Nairobi’s People Daily; 60% of Kenya’s accredited journalists are women, yet they make up only 20% of leadership roles. “Unless women become managers in the media, their presence will have limited impact. It is critical that media companies create and implement gender policies to help address the gender gap in the media”, she said.

This view was echoed by veteran Kenyan journalists, Rosemary Okello, who said “WAN-IFRA needs to be commended for their programme of developing media managers among women. “There is need to develop strong networks to help amplify voices of women so that they have some authority and also to change the narrative”, Ms Okello added.

Director of Women in News in Africa, Tikhala Chibwana, has called on Media Managers in Kenya to re-examine the question of gender bias in the media in order to remove some of the obstacles that hinder women’s progress in the media.

“Most of this gender bias may not even be deliberate. Some of it is unconscious bias as a result of conditioning and socialization. There is an urgent need to deliberately re-examine the state of gender bias in the media and work towards reducing it,” said Chibwana.

 

A Winning Formula with WAN-IFRA and Wits University

 

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Faith Oneya

The Women In News (WIN) programme has developed a strong partnership with Wits University in South Africa, to deliver a certified training course to participants who can use the certification to further their education towards an honours degree. As part of today’s Roundtable in Nairobi, Kenya, Women In News (WIN) participants are receiving their graduation certificates.

“Wits’ Media Management course seeks to empower journalists to take on more responsible positions in a number of different contexts. Media organisations face difficult times, as they adapt to a rapidly changing technical landscape, shifting audiences and often trying political circumstances. The course aims to equip working journalists with the wide range of skills they will need in confronting these challenges”, said Franz Kruger, head of the Wit University’s Journalism department

Faith Oneya, Web Producer at Nation Media Group in Kenya, has received the highest grades out of all of WIN’s participants this year. When asked about how receiving the Wits training had helped her, she said: “It shaped my thoughts of how I approached my work and exposed me to various theories that I could apply in the newsroom. It helped me recognize and be more sensitive to gender issues in the newsroom. I became more proactive in my own career growth by choosing to be in the limelight instead of shying away from tasks or events that would put in ‘direct sunlight’ ”.

“Apart from being an excellent addition to my CV, it will be a constant reminder of what it takes to be in management and a valid tool to use to negotiate for better terms at work.

I had limited experience in the newsroom having worked for 10 years in the marketing research field before branching off into journalism. With only three years in the newsroom, I wanted to be exposed to what it would take to rise in the newsroom and to network with others in the same field. I was eager to rise in the ranks, and wanted a ladder to help me get to the top. WIN was going to be that ladder”, added Oneya.

Kruger also highlighted the need for more women in media management saying that “The media remain male-dominated, and it is high time that women’s voices are heard more clearly, and more women are brought into the frame as managers. We look forward to seeing course participants take on greater responsibilities, where they can make use of their skills and talents!”.

The Women In News (WIN) initiative has launched its sixth year in Africa by bringing together 37 women in middle and senior management of newspapers in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda,Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as a team of coaches and mentors from local markets and abroad. The programme also has a MENA chapter, running in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.