Female journalists "continue to be denied their fair share" at major media organisations in India, a new report by UN Women has claimed. The report, titled "Gender Inequality in Indian Media", found that women were better represented online than in newspaper and TV. While 26.3 per cent top jobs were held by women at online portals, TV channels employed 20.9 per cent and magazines 13.6 per cent women in leadership positions -- defined as someone designated editor-in-chief, managing editor, executive editor, bureau chief, or input/output editor.
None of the sampled newspapers, seven Hindi and six English, had a female boss. The 13 newspapers were selected on the basis of their position in the Indian Readership Survey 2018, according to the report.
The UN body could not avail data from Navbharat Times and Dainik Bhaskar. "The media today is largely male-dominated in India and across the world. Women are often assigned to cover 'soft beats' such as Lifestyle and Fashion while men predominate in the 'hard beats' of politics, economy, and sports.
"Men also occupy the majority of the leadership positions. By thus marginalising women's voices and perspectives, the Indian media essentially denies nearly a half of the population a chance to influence public opinion," the report said. Unveiled at The Media Rumble by online news portal NewsLaundry, the study analysed six Hindi and as many English news channels, 11 websites, five radio stations, and four magazines besides the 13 newspapers.
Of the 2,963 writers in six English newspaper, only a quarter were women, while of the articles published, only 20 per cent were by women. The report found that out of 17,312 articles, only 457 or less than 3 per cent were on gender issues, 39.6 per cent of which were written by women.
The scenario was worse in Hindi newspapers with only 17 per cent women of a total of 2,084 writers, with about 11 per cent of them getting bylines. Digital media showed a ray of hope as women comprised of over 35 per cent of the writers who received bylines for 39.8 per cent of all articles.
It found that women in digital media contributed more articles than men on state and policy (58.4 per cent), crime and accident (53.5 per cent), culture and entertainment (51.3 per cent), and public life (50.3 per cent). The UN body said in the study that as women's contribution "continues to be devalued at home and the workplace, it was the media industry's responsibility to engage with the issue of gender diversity".