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In their faces (or on screens)

In traditional media, we (women) don’t make news. Uganda’s Daily Monitor now has an established structure for their “People in the News” on the Short Takes page during the week; a deliberate policy to include women. There has to be a woman. The standard number of people is three, and every day of the week, one of those three is a woman. Having worked on the floor that does this page, I can tell you this is hard. There are days that are good, days when Winnie Byanyima is appointed Executive Director at Oxfam International, days when South Korea votes a female President, even days when Japadhola Queen Cecilia Owor dies. Many days are dry though.

Why are women not making news? It could very easily be that media does not think the things we do, or say, are newsworthy. It could also be that women are not in positions that create news. This is where Web 2.0 comes in. Having worked in media for a couple of months I have learned that media can make you. When they choose to write about you often, with or without solid information, they make you stand out. They give you a story, if there is none. They empower you. Web 2.0 has users that range from journalists to NGO workers to community leaders who will not give you a story, but who will write YOUR story. Better still, you can write your own story, and literally put it in the faces of computer-users across the globe. Is there any greater power than forcing people to read or listen to you? For the women whose stories have been deemed not newsworthy, for the women who are positively changing the world, for the women whose stories have never been documented, this would go a long way. It is a power that when harnessed does a lot for global women’s empowerment.

The most exciting thing about Web 2.0 is accessibility to both audience and the user. If the user is a journalist (or in most cases, a citizen journalist), by sharing on this platform, they do away with the impatient editor who just wants to beat a deadline, the sales department that is only after rates and the established targeted audience for the traditional media house. The result is you write your story. If you must out some organization for failing to do their job, there is no observed protocol and you can bring them to account. And, no one asks “Will this story sell?” It is about the story, and not the profit. The ability to remove all these structures that can become barriers is part of the power I find in Web 2.0. It empowers me every day it “kills” off a house style and the sales department- whose employees I have never met. Web 2.0 makes it possible for me to tell a woman’s story, her joys and pains, giving her the agency.

Comments

Maya Norton's picture

Rebecca, it seems like a

Rebecca, it seems like a better idea to get women into the news and promote their leadership would be to feature women NOT necessarily in the news in efforts to promote their presence.

I like what you've said about Web 2.0 being for the audience and user (consumer and producer) and later in the paragraph, about featuring stories of women's joy, pain, and agency.

Look forward to reading more.

~ Maya

Rebecca R's picture

500 word space limiting

Hi Maya,

I was actually really excited that you pulled that out. I wanted to elaborate on it further but it is hard to be eloquent in 500 words and still answer the questions in the assignment. I am happy to use the comment space as well to discuss.

I agree with you about getting women in the news and promoting their leadership because despite media, there are very many women doing newsworthy things across the globe. We have stories that should be reported on. I pointed oout the media being able to report on a person, even when they had no news, to show that media cannot claim, "oh, but there aren't making any news." When has that ever stopped them?

I should also say I was trying to be provocative in my post :-P.

-Rebecca

Aminah's picture

yes we write our story :)

It could be that by nature women are not after self glory.
Even where women have access to media, it could be that it's the cause that they promote not the self.

But yes, I agree web 2.0 has allowed women to speak out to a larger audience thereby bringing the stories to centre stage.

You have address the issue quite neatly.

Regards,
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Rebecca R's picture

Thank you

Thank you, Aminah. And you do raise a good point about women's attitude. I think though that that might be something that is also true with several men. It is not genderised, but might be in the sense that communities have always suppressed the woman's voice. Could she have normalised that, to an extent?

True. It cannot necessarily be gender-ised. But it may just be the way we are brought up. It might be the expected societal guidelines to not be a "loud mouth".
I personally feel that sometimes access to media is abused by some high profile people for self-promotion instead of working on a good cause.
Also on another perspective, not everyone is that comfortable in front of camera. So yes, there needs to be a balance.
And I believe web 2.0 provides that balance quite neatly. We don't have to confirm to the standards of the media channel. We can upload a video if we wish to, we can upload a lecture if we wish, or we could just communicate through writing and interactions.

I have enjoyed this interaction with you Rebeca. thanks.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Rebecca R's picture

Yes

Yes, Aminah, you are absolutely right. Web 2.0 does allow flexibility to the user and like you say you do what you do with it, if you wish to. I think that sometimes this abuse "by some high profile people for self-promotion instead of working on a good cause" damages it a lot. To be able to effectively use Web 2.0, you are forced to be aggressive about self-promotion. I don't know if this is the same with you. Blogs are driven by links, by continuous updates and also comments on other people's blogs. People check your Facebook profile and Twitter timeline if you are a regular updater. They don't want to miss something you said. This is not the same as when you don't self-promote yourself. Usually that makes you disappear in the crowd of the loud updates and capitalised hyperbolic statuses. I have personally failed to find the balance because I would rather my blog content attracted its own click-love. I don't want to have to put a Facebook update with an extract and a link for people to go. But then again, the human brain has a short memory. People need to be reminded every so many minutes :-)

I have enjoyed this conversation too, Aminah. I hope we have more of these in the future.

Rebecca

Sharontina's picture

Nice knowing you!

Dear Rebecca,

its a good piece of writing, words neatly woven and broughtforth with all that emphasis women should be given in the new media.

keep sharing dear. i am waiting.

love

Merlin Sharontina

Rebecca R's picture

Thank you

Thank you, Sharontina for reading my piece and leaving such encouraging words.

-Rebecca

mjose3's picture

A powerful voice.

You are right Rebecca. It should be about the story and not the profit. I am glad you are empowered to speak for the women without a voice.

May your voice be loud and clear!

Love,
Lisa

Lisa

Rebecca R's picture

I will write to that!

Amen to that, Lisa! Amen!

Let's all write to that!

Rebecca

nifkinz's picture

I love the energy that this

I love the energy that this piece exudes! Do you think that perhaps it is harder to get women into the news because we have to do so much more than men in order to be deemed worthy of it? I think you touched on this a bit in your piece as well. I have seen men make the news for far less news worthy things. I like the idea of putting it "IN their faces!" Good plan. Keep doing it.

Becky Frary

Rebecca R's picture

It is unfortunate

It is unfortunate but yes, we have to do more than men do to make news. In Uganda, early last year, women matched to the Central Police Station in their bras. There had been an arrest, a televised arrest, where someone in police uniform had repeatedly grabbed at the woman's breasts. I asked one of the top officials in the police force once, "Did you hold some kind of seminar/workshop for the officers to educate them about the incident? To tell them that this was wrong and why it was wrong?" He said no. The arresting officer was suspended after the women activists would not back down. The system remains largely unaffected.

To me, that just shows that for action to be taken, women had to parade in their underwear. Otherwise, it was no big deal.

Society has for a long time favoured the man and to be deemed equal, we must be loud. We must fight. And in many places, we must include deliberate gender inclusive policies. But as long as the woman is still regarded as less, what she does will not be news unless she works really hard (and removes her blouse too).

Rebecca

Web 2.0 has certainly created endless amounts of opportunities for us, allowing individuals who were once ignored to participate in global society. It enables us to surpass limitations typically applied to the media and share our story. I have seen numerous ways that Web 2.0 has empowered women, and I can't wait to see how the movement will continue to develop, or how you will play a part in it.

Courtney Michelle Miller
Digital Communications Strategist and Multimedia Producer
http://courtneymichellemiller.org

Rebecca R's picture

Excited

Courtney, I am excuted about the movement as well. It does have endless opportunities like you say and every woman should be able to find a role to play in it. I hope I will not hesitate to use the opportunities provided to share our story.

Rebecca

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