“Addressing the Journalism Gender Gap; Bringing Environmental News Front & Centre”

Takeaways from the Safecity Tweet Chat on Friday, October 5, 2018

— Raakhee Suryaprakash

During my week of curating content for Safecity’s twitter handle @pinthecreep showcasing the women and their work who are raising awareness on environmental issues as writers, artists and journalists, I hosted the Friday tweet chat: “Addressing the Journalism Gender Gap; Bringing Environmental News Front & Centre.”

Why did I club them together – they both challenge the status quo and if both issues are addressed and solved they will make the world a much better place.

My week of curation coincided with three women winning shared Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Physics and Peace. It also coincided with the #MeToo peak in the fields of India’s entertainment, media and comedy and internationally the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh as a US Supreme Court judge. Coincidentally my very first curation and tweet chat for Safecity’s Twitter handle dealt with workplace harassment and life after sexual harassment at the workplace.

One of the first suggestions to tackle the Gender Gap in Journalism highlighted the fact that this gap could be bridged if the workplace was free of sexual harassment and gender inclusive. A safer and equitable media workplace with a diverse and inclusive can help reduce the gender gap in journalism.

As @womenite put it “More equitable hiring practices. More women in leadership positions which will encourage more women to take up journalism. Ensuring workspace security in terms of harassment and discrimination through enforcement of laws. Encouraging a healthy work culture.”

Renita Siqueira (@renitasiqueira) also recommended making workspaces safer for women and other genders and having in place proper POSH (prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace) mechanisms and policies as a way to bridge the gender gap in journalism.

Employee-friendly policies enabling flexible working hours and work from home opportunities for all, which is quite feasible in journalism, will also encourage more women, especially mothers with young children to join the media workforce. Another key driver to bridge the gender gap is equal pay and increments and promotions on the basis of merit.

Having strong women role models in the media will help inspire more young girls to look beyond the usual. Something to keep in mind not just on International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th) and International Women’s Day (March 8th). Having more women and a gender inclusive media will ensure a greater variety of perspectives in our news, newsrooms and newspapers and insights from diverse lived experiences. It is as important that media has an adequate representation of the LGBTIQ communities as they also add a unique perspective to offer, enabling communication to be more sensitive, empathetic and inclusive of all.

Donna Strickland, the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize winner, put it best when she said,  “The world works best when we do what we’re good at.”

Bridging the gender gap in journalism will ensure that there not just men but more women and LGBTQI people are doing what they are good at to make the media would work best!

Similarly, news of the environment needs to go beyond the science, editorial and opinion pages and get front and centre for people to take better care of our at-risk planet. Natural disasters get front page spreads but in order for natural disasters to be less economically and demographically devastating long-term thinking needs to be fostered. Getting environmental and climate reports and articles to the front page will help inspire green solutions to our environmental crises. Beyond reporting natural disasters, the aftermath and possible opportunities amidst the threats, policy and research into future preventive measures, and the reasons and causes of ecological disasters need to be reported with as much vigour.

Media needs to be more sensitized about the environment and environmental experts need to be included in editorial teams. As @Lats_tweets put it, “We need more journalists educated in the environment and climate change … Most eco[logy] pieces currently are written by experts or scientists and hence seem editorial.” Access to scientists, scientific data and interaction between the researchers, climate negotiators and the media needs to be invigorated with regular workshops and interdisciplinary fellowships. The information from research also needs to be made more relatable by “relating environmental stories to direct impacts on our lives instead of quoting charts and figures.” Climate Tracker and Sharada Balasubramanian (@sharadawrites) an independent environmental and development journalist based out of Coimbatore both are working to enable such interactions with environmental professionals and climate negotiators at the international, national, regional and local levels as well as showcasing relatable story angles and human interest points of view in environmental reporting.

Columnists such as Ranjit Lal in the Indian Express and Bahar Dutt take their love for nature and the environment to a larger audience and even inspire the next generation of environmentalists and naturalists. News keeps us aware of developments in our world and changes and crises of the environment need equal reporting and highlighting. Science news needs to be given its due and in turn environmental issues and initiatives need to be taken to as wide an audience as possible in order to engage our collective consciousness to come up with solutions to the existential crisis that is the state of our environment.

Arshita (@Arshita07437144) summarized the need of the hour best “the front page of every newspaper should be revamped into a conglomeration of all types of news. Also major news which needs long-term action and response like environmental conditions should be given a permanent column.”


About the Author & Curator:

Raakhee Suryaprakash is a Chennai-based analyst who focuses on highlighting developments in finding and implementing the use of alternatives to plastics; renewable energy technology; sustainable development goals; women’s empowerment; environmental protection and climate action. She has a master’s in International Studies and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. Raakhee was one of the South Asia fellows of Climate Tracker in 2016. She is a volunteer with the storytelling wing of the Red Elephant Foundation and an Associate Member of the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Sharing is caring!