News

Women In News Discuss Gender Issues In The Newsroom And Readership

Newswomen based in four different parts of the world gathered for a panel discussion to talk about gender issues, newsroom solutions and readership, reflecting the similarities and differences between the regions they come from.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor info@wan-ifra.org | November 13, 2019

From left to right: Georgina Ferri Tordera, Laura Warne, Chia Ting Ting, Jacqui Park

By Carol Yuan

Georgina Ferri Tordera – Chief Innovation & Transformation Officer, ARA newspaper

ARA is a Catalan daily newspaper whose headquarters are located in Barcelona.

While ARA newspaper currently has a gender-balanced newsroom, Tordera still saw women experiencing discrimination in the industry.

According to Tordera, women in the newsroom tend to have lower salaries and occupy fewer managerial positions than men. They experience higher unemployment rates and consume fewer media content. Tordera said that this is because it is difficult to find gender-balanced content.

To serve new audiences and balance the genders in readership, ARA built a new vertical community called ARA Feminism this year, putting together the newspaper’s content about gender and women in one place.

Meanwhile, ARA created a database of women experts on a variety of issues. Tordera said sometimes women hesitate to put themselves forward as an expert. To counter that, the newspaper built the database to encourage women to show their expertise and share their opinions.

Laura Warne – Head of Digital, South China Morning Post

South China Morning Post also has a newsroom which is relatively balanced in terms of gender, according to Laura Warne. She said women employees are involved in many different roles at various levels in the organisation.

However, she said, “We saw gaps between our male readership and female readership. We want to close that gap.”

Warne said that her team has been discussing how to provide content that is more attractive to female readers. As part of that effort, SCMP formed a cross-departmental team and broke the problem down into four parts: readership, content women would be interested in, how to tell a story in a gender-balanced way, and how to encourage interactions with and among the female readership.

She said the team dug deep into different topics to find which ones would be a most compelling read to women and set up an internal interface to help the newsroom find women experts quickly. They also encourage all readers to contribute to their stories and hope more women will step forward.

Chia Ting Ting – Chief Commercial Officer & Head of Advertising, Malaysiakini

Chia highlighted how low political awareness among women has affected Malaysiakini’s readership.

Malaysiakini is an independent online news portal which is largely focused on political content. It is unaffiliated with the Malaysian government.

Chia said about 80% of Malaysiakini’s editorial positions are occupied by males, and only 10-20% of their female readers read political content.

“That means the education about politics in Malaysia is not enough for women,” Chia said.

On International Women’s Day this year, Malaysiakini organized a campaign to encourage women to be more politically aware and why they should speak out. 

Jacqui Park – Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Media Transition, the University of Technology in Sydney & former CEO, Walkley Foundation

“I think now our audiences are demanding something different,” said Park, “Particularly women, particularly young women.”

She also remarked that it is important to reach and understand readership – who they are and what they want – and provide content that they are willing to pay for.

Park also suggested that human resources structures in news publishing companies should be transparent and professional so than gender balance and equality in newsrooms can be ensured.

Author Carol Yuan is a year 3 International Journalism student at Hong Kong Baptist University.

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

info@wan-ifra.org