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.