New report indicts Nigerian media of discrimination against women in political reporting
A new report has indicted the Nigerian media of subtle gender discrimination, in terms of visibility given to female candidates, even in the process of interviewing News sources.
The report, an outcome of the monitoring of 12 print and online newspapers on the coverage of electoral issues for the period of September to December 2018, undertaken by the International Press Centre, IPC, also revealed the concentration of reports on the “big parties,” to the detriment of the “smaller parties,” by the media.
Presenting the report, Mr. Richard Akinnola, Executive Director, Centre For Free Speech, Lagos, gave the analysis of trends as men dominating the space of reports with 1, 417 mentions, representing 50.61% as against women which have 102 mentions, representing 3.54%, while youths have 109 mentions, representing 3.7% and PLWD have 33, mentions representing 1.14%.
“We cannot close our eyes to the subtle gender discrimination in terms of visibility given to female candidates and even in the process of interviewing news sources, where there has been a disproportionate percentage against women.” He said.
He urged the media to do more in the coverage of women and people living with disability that are vying for political positions in the 2019 elections. Akinnola also called for more reports on the challenges that People Living with Disability (PLWD) face in their quest to exercise their civic rights before and during the elections.
He decried the emblematic of the mindset of the Nigerian media, whereby the new or the not so prominent political parties are given scant mention.
“When you look at the percentage difference in terms of mentions, APC got 55.9% of mentions, PDP that came second in terms of mentions got 29.12% and all the other “smaller” parties got insignificant percentages of mentions,” Aknniola revealed.
Akinnola stated that the financial demands of journalists in the coverage of his activities and campaigns impacted negatively in his media visibility.
“A presidential candidate of one of the supposed small parties, complained about five years ago in a newspaper interview that financial demands of journalists in the coverage of his activities and campaigns impacted negatively in his media visibility.
“This raises a very crucial point. As a matter of fact, if this report had covered the electronic media, the result of the research would have been worse because of the level of commercialisation of news in that sector. In actual fact, l have been a victim of such practice, whereby a public presentation of a media-related book was termed commercial by a television station.
“This aspect of the report poses a major challenge to the press and the responsibility of the press to the people. If we have to be real, political actors – candidates and parties alike – must have a heavy financial war chest for them to be well reported and projected in the media, as we have seen in this report.
“This is an issue which we have to critically address, otherwise, we are invariably shutting the doors against candidates who are not financially buoyant. To me, this is the main issue that resonates in this report. This has put the smaller parties in a disadvantaged position.”
Earlier on in his keynote address, Director, IPC, Lanre Arogundade spoke on the need for media monitoring, while also outlining the frameworks that govern media coverage of elections, which deals with its social responsibilities and reporting the underprivileged like the PLWD.
“Media content monitoring is very important. IPC is not the only one monitoring the media, the international organisations also do and they release reports after the elections. The public is also interested in how well the media is doing, to see to what extent we capture the public interest. If the media get it right, the electoral body will also get it right. One single report can spark up crisis via hate speech. As journalists, our duty is to go beyond what politicians say and report peaceful conduct of elections”, he said.
Arogundade, however, charged journalists on election covering duty to be safety conscious on the elections day, especially in violence flashpoints like “Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Rivers as well as North East,”
With a focus to strengthening democratic governance in Nigeria, IPC was supported by EU-SDGN to carry out this project in