Quick wins: 4 ways newsrooms can ensure climate coverage reaches everyone

WAN-IFRA’s Women in News programme advocates for a media industry that gives equal voice to men and women. Over the past decade, we have worked with individuals and our partners in media organisations to address the gender gap in news reporting in a bid to avoid perpetuating and reinforcing gender inequalities. As it is, while women make up more than half of the world’s population, they are, on average, seen, heard and read just 20% of the time in Africa and the Arab region.

When it comes to climate change, there can be no room for exclusion if we hope to chart a future for humanity. 

Media organisations must commit to actively seeking out and featuring women sources and experts, and creating balance in reporting while steering clear of stereotypes and sexist ideas. To mark this year’s World News Day, we share some guidelines on how newsrooms can go about doing this.

1. Expert voices

Build a database of women climate experts who can be referenced as sources. This will help you diversify your content and gain access to new and interesting viewpoints. Also, actively seek out women’s stories, and include their voices and opinions prominently. Feature them as main subjects in images, but do not portray them in ways that propagate sexism or stereotypes. Be cautious about the language you use – ensure it is fair, steers clear of misogynistic statements and is inclusive.  

2. Newsroom inclusion

Gender stereotyping in news content can be the result of institutional gender biases. To address this, ensure editorial meetings are representative. Ask questions to see how a story affects the women in the room and what potential there may be for a gender angle. Make the deliberate effort to have more women bylines, which often means the story will have an automatic gender lens. As you roll this out, consider training employees on gender balance to address any biases that may be hiding in plain sight. In the short term, you may want to have someone responsible for overseeing the day-to-day effort required to stamp out gender biases and boost diversity in news reporting.

3. Measure progress

You can’t grow what you don’t measure. Set gender balance targets so you know how close you are to including more diverse voices in your climate reporting. This means either instituting a hardline mandate of seeing 50:50 balance in men’s and women’s voices in stories, or going for an incremental increase. Set time frames, but nothing too unrealistic; you don’t want to set yourself up to fail. Make use of data to track progress made and as a driving force towards set targets. This free-to-use Women in News tool provides an easy way to measure the gender balance in your content.

4. Storytelling that matters

Women and men have different preferences when it comes to reporting styles. If you don’t have the budget to conduct wide-scale research to identify these nuances, consider using small groups to understand how best to tailor climate change content to different audiences. Studies have shown that women tend to relate more to personal, emotional and visual content. If your own research underlines these findings, identify ways to reach this 50% with the kind of storytelling they want. And keep in mind that consumption habits vary, so find out what platforms work best for your audiences and the most suitable times to share high-impact journalism.For more insights into achieving gender balance in content, WIN provides this comprehensive guide to building more inclusive newsrooms.

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