The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is engaged on a project to help women journalists around the globe achieve their potential. In the latest manifestation of its innovative women in news (WIN) initiative, it brought together 37 women who work in middle and senior management at newspapers in seven African countries.
A team of coaches and mentors met up with the women in South Africa as part of an editorial leadership programme. “Just two days into their first media management training, the participants are saying this is a life-changing course”, said Alison Meston, WIN’s head of capacity building.
She said: “WAN-IFRA aims to close the gender gap in the newsroom by ensuring women with strong leadership skills and passion for the news industry can reach the top positions in news media houses”.
The women, from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, were told by Ferial Haffejee, editor of the Johannesburg-based City Press, that gender bias in news was made worse by women not being used as sources.
She said: “One of the first things I did as an editor was ensure our newsroom had a dedicated female source book, so there was no excuse not to ask for a comment from a woman in finance or politics or health”. The meeting included sessions on gender bias in news, social impact reporting and managing diversity in the newsroom along with strategies to attract young readers.
The WIN project is supported by the Swedish international development cooperation agency (Sida) and the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry. It has forged a partnership with Wits University to deliver a training course.