The Importance of Gender Sensitivity in Media Reporting

We’re living in an era of a variety of mediums, of constant reporting and news. Whether those are false or real, they continue to impact the masses. But where is gender sensitivity in all of this fuss?

The media have become one of the biggest and most influential sources when it comes down to shaping people’s opinions, often, even our lifestyles. With this much potential that the media has, as the main source of information, education, and entertainment, no wonder it has the power to deconstruct or construct social norms, including gender norms, roles, and stereotypes. This depends completely on how we decide to use the media, as fellow reporters and journalists around the world. 

The problem is that there is little to no gender sensitivity being incorporated throughout media channels. In fact, the situation is the complete opposite, as women continue to be objectified, harassed, and discriminated against throughout diverse articles, news, and reporting. It becomes much harder especially when it comes down to social media, as there is little to no jurisdiction at all protecting women from the way they are being portrayed online. 

According to a 2017 EU-wide survey, more than half (54 %) of respondents recognized a problem with the way in which women are presented in the media and advertising in their country, with nearly four in 10 (39 %) believing that the issue ought to be addressed. It comes as no surprise that women were more likely than men to recognize the problem and support related activities.

But let’s break the term down, though, before we jump into what reporters and journalists can do to make a change.


What Is Gender Sensitive Reporting?

According to Free Press Unlimited definition, “gender-sensitive reporting is the practice of producing media content in a way which is sensitive to gender inequalities and portrays women and men fairly.”

What does this mean? It means that in order to walk towards a more just and equal society, the media needs to properly portray the differences of diverse societies and produce coverage that is “complete and diverse, as seen through the eyes of all genders”. 


How to Make a Difference

There are so many things we can do to change the existing norms and stereotypes surrounding our community. It really does start with each and every single one of us—the education we pursue, the books we read, the language we decide to adapt, and the things we choose to report on or not.

It is crucial for journalists and reporters to educate themselves on terms and notions of gender issues. I think it’s crucial for journalists and reports to educate themselves continuously on an in-depth, sociological aspect as well because there are so many communities not being acknowledged and celebrated properly in the media. 

Ask yourself questions, whenever you’re writing a piece, an article, or a story. 

  • Am I reinforcing or avoiding any existing gender stereotypes?
  • How should I properly cover stories on gender-based violence? Am I by any chance contributing to victim-blaming through the language I am using?
  • Am I using sexist language in my article, which is contributing to the way women and men are incorrectly perceived?
  • Are there sources to help me use the proper terms? 
  • Can I contact any activist or gender expert to review my story, so as to avoid any reinforcement of stereotypes or gender roles?
  • How can I contribute to the increase of gender sensitivity, among my stories and my colleagues’ as well?

These are only a few questions we can all ask ourselves while striving to include gender sensitivity in our reporting. I promise you’re a click away from verifying any sort of term or information you’re unsure about using. So go ahead, continue educating yourself, and contribute to a better, more equal perception of women and men in the media.


Photo: Nubefy/Shutterstock


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