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Female reporters for mainstreaming social issues in Nepali media

Narayan Prasad Ghimire, KATHMANDU: Most of the female reporters find it difficult to continue journalism for long in Nepal. Workplace atmosphere, lack of gender sensitiveness and patriarchal mindset are major factors behind low visibility of women in media. Women hardly comprise 20 percent of the total number of journalists in Nepal.
It is common that political news dominate Nepali media- print, electronic and internet-based portals. It obviously pushes the social issues to the inner pages, that is to say, social issues are belittled. Some argue that as social beat is hastily generalized as ‘feminine beat’, most of the females are reporting on it, resulting in lower visibility compared to male colleagues.
Female journalists, mostly reporting on social beat, talked various similar issues in an interface on women’s presence in Nepali media organized in the capital city recently.
“Isn’t it high time we mainstreamed social issues- the issues of women and children- now? Nepal is now in relatively stable situation. So, we can focus on social issues,” says Rama Luitel, encouraging the fellow reporters, arguing that social news helps bring bigger change than the political news does.
When some female reporters complain that they are generally given social beats, she responds there is no point in belittling social beat reporting. Social beat is more important than others, she underscores.
Similarly, another journalist Durga Karki said, “Male reporters should be instructed to do social beat, so that they could learn more on sensitivity of women and children.” According to her, perspective of male and female reporters on a same issue is different, so the presentation of the story may vary.
However, both of them agree that women’s presence in media should be increased to augment social issues. There are several issues relating to women’s problems that need immediate address, but still ignored by media.
A student of MA in Gender Studies, Pabitra Guragain, observed, “Social issues are taken as feminine issues. Such patriarchal psychology of not assigning political beat to females can have link here.”
She argues that women can also report political issues and work in odd hours, but work atmosphere must be favourable.
Talking about the visibility of women in media, most of the female journalists are univocal that women sensitivity is one of the important factors behind the time women stay in media. After marriage, chance of returning to media is very slim, they add.
In view of female’s short stay in media, a Master’s Level student of journalism, Srijana Khadka said, “I’m working on a thesis on ‘Career of female journalists after marriage in Nepal’ to dig out more issues as how difficult the women journalists’ life is in media before and after marriage in Nepal.”
Sharing a monitoring report on women’s representation on Nepali media, Gender Monitoring Officer at Freedom Forum, Nanu Maiya Khadka, said women’s presence in Nepali media is very low. “According to a study of nine national dailies in the recent three months (Jan-March 2018), out of 1,060 news stories, there are 5.2 percent female bylines; while 23.86 percent are female opinion writers. The female source in news is 12.69,” she informed.
According to her, it is appreciative that the female sources have increased by 3 percent compared to previous monitoring period. In the major six online news portals, out of 359 news stories, 4.15 percent is female byline, while 28.45 percent male byline and 11.61 percent female sources, while 74.53 percent male sources in the news stories in the.
She also said the news related to politics and government was dominating Nepali media.

Published Date: Monday, June 4th, 2018 | 10:14 PM

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