The analysis of the media contents in the Western Balkans media shows a strong correlation with the patriarchal structures of power and ownership, lack of female expert voices, as well as a need to have more ready-made, tailored policies in place. The BMAP Forward key media partners declared their readiness and preparedness to be more inclusive and gender balanced.
The following set of recommendations focuses on them as champions of independent journalism in the region who are striving towards gender sensitive and balanced reporting:
- Gender representation and equality among the media in the region, including the BMAP Forward partners, need improvement. The first step towards that goal would be planning and monitoring. We recommend that the media partners create a simple monitoring sheet or to adopt any of the existing ones listed under Resources and Guidelines Chapter. Authors fof the study recommend monitoring and analysis of their own content in order to increase the representation of female voices not only through the stories about women (and other marginalized groups), but also by featuring more female sources, expert opinions and contributors.
- We also recommend editorial planning and practical steps on daily and weekly basis on having more gender balanced reporting and more female voices in the key media partners’ outputs. In the Resources and Guidelines Section authors have listed a sample checklist that can be adopted to each of the media outlet’s needs.
- Making gender equality, and diversity and inclusion in general, an explicit and integral party of news strategy would be a great step forward. Performing a gender gap audit across news resources, newsgathering, news coverage and news audiences would help identify the areas that need improvement.
- Using FEMBASE as a valuable resource to enrich the outputs by researching and finding female experts and contributors;
- Creation of gender editorial guideline for each partner or type of media partners (those guidelines would address the issues such as use of gender-neutral language, imaginary, etc);
- Deconstructing and avoiding gender stereotypes, misogyny and sexism, and publicly calling out hate against women and other marginalized voices;
- Creation of a business strategy that includes specific gender-based approach for advertisers and media buyers’ agencies;
- Continue to build the media partners’ brands based on gender equality and fair representation; communicate clearly the partners’ dedication to gender equality standards and principles, as well as to following global media trends in advertising.
- Organizing workshops on different areas that need improvement such as workshops on reporting about gender, increasing female voices in the content, digital security for women journalists, gender-sensitive business strategy, etc.
- Online harassment and attacks against women journalists in the region continue to be one of the major problems that needs urgent addressing – while the upcoming BMAP Forward activities would offer some solutions, the media partners should set up an urgency and support response system for their staff. One of the possible solutions is creation of a safe hub/space based on the ‘Safe Sisters’ model;
- Introduce and implement plans for increasing the number of women on senior editorial and managerial positions;
- Review and amend the possibility of gender pay gap within a media outlet;
Guidelines and Resources
The following list is a selection of resources we believe might be useful for the media partners in the Western Balkans. The list consists of some reports and studies used for the purpose of producing this document, as well as of a sample checklist that could be amended for each BMAP Forward partner’s needs. The following checklist should be understood as a practical tool helping to achieve better gender equality across different sectors within a media outlet:
Track and monitor the gender balance of experts and contributors in news stories and content outputs produced by your media organization;
- Review the current contributors’ list and add more female voices. Check FEMBASE and other sources to increase the number of female experts;
- Make a rule of always having gender parity in TV shows, panels and interviews;
- Make a rule of having gender parity in photos and illustrations featured on your media web page and social media profiles;
2. News outputs
- Track and monitor number of stories with leading female protagonists. Make a rule to have gender parity in news stories produced by the media outlet itself. Make a rule to search for more women representatives of official bodies and institutions (For example, try to interview a female spokesperson of a ministry even when the usual spokesman is available and willing to talk);
- Make a rule to have more female voices and leading protagonists in stories on government and politics, finance, crime and corruption;
- Analyze the way women are portrayed in your organization’s coverage; Check for stereotypes and generalizations in order to deconstruct them;
3. Organisational tips
- Review gender pay gap
- Make sure you have a gender parity employment policy
- Make sure you gave sexual harassment at the work place policy
- Internews Reflect Reality – A resource and toolkit for journalists and newsrooms to increase women as sources in the news media. It includes strategies and best practices, as well as Sample Tracking Template , which news teams and journalists can customize to monitor and track gender representation.
- Internews FEMBASE – a reliable and searchable database created to be used by journalists, researchers, educators, students and policy makers, and anyone else who is looking for female experts in almost every field in the Western Balkans – from AI and media, to science, defense, social affairs.
- International Federation of Journalists – Getting the Balance Right
- UN Women/ Guidelines for Gender and Conflict-sensitive Reporting – In this document published in 2019, there are several sections addressing the use of gender-neutral language, visual representation of women and how to tell a story in a gender-sensitive way. It also includes 5Ws of gender-sensitive journalism.
- Free Press Unlimited/ Gender-Sensitive Reporting
- Free Press Unlimited/ Media Content Monitoring Guidelines - Media content monitoring is a tool that can be used, among other topics and issues, to look into the way women are (mis/under) represented in the media. We recommend this tool to make inequalities and trends visible pointing the media partners in direction in which their content could be improved.
- UNDP/ Smernice za medijsko izveštavanje o nasilju prema ženama
- Ethical Journalism Network 6-point Guide for Ethical Reporting on Domestic Violence
- Vijeće za štampu BiH/ Preporuke o rodnoj ravnopravnosti u medijskom izveštavanju - U inoviranom i dopunjenom Kodeksu za štampane i online medije BiH, usvojenom decembra 2021. godine, sadržane su odredbe o rodnoj ravnopravnosti u nekoliko članova.
- Internews/ Online Gendered Hate Speech Targets Women in Civic Spaces – the report published on March 2023 aims to answer the questions: What does online gendered harmful content look like globally? And how does online gendered harmful content impact public-facing women?
- The International Women’s Media Foundation / the Missing Perspectives of Women in News
- Internews / From Outrage to Opportunity
- Council of Europe/ Media and Gender – Towards a balanced gender representation and participation in the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina