New report: Media portrayed women negatively in 2016 election coverage

Ugandan newspapers offered more space to male politicians and portrayed women negatively in their coverage of the recent general elections, a new report has revealed.

The report, released on Tuesday, 28 June 2016, by Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) at Hotel Africana in Kampala, also state that the print media reinforced various stereotypes against women in their reporting.

The report is a result of a three-month analysis of five newspapers; New Vision, Daily Monitor, The Observer, Red Pepper (English publications) and Bukedde, a Luganda publication.

According to the findings, out of the 2,624 election related stories published between December 2015 and February 2016, women featured as news subjects in only 20 per cent of the stories while men dominated with the remaining 80%.

All the newspapers performed poorly in according space to women, with none scoring above 24 per cent.

Ms Margaret Sentamu, UMWA’s executive director who presented the findings, said their analysis shows that the print media is full of distortions and misrepresentations about women and men.

Misrepresentation of women in comparison to men manifested in language, and images that are often sexist, judgmental, stereotypical, degrading and sometimes derogatory,” Ms Sentamu said.

The findings also show that even in cases where women were subjects of stories, their views were rarely sought and they were also identified through stereotypical gender roles that society bestows upon them. For instance, women were mostly talked about in reference to motherhood and care giving (100%) while their professions were rarely mentioned unlike the men.

The findings also found that women were directly quoted in only 15 per cent of the stories published.

However, some of the editors who attended the launch of the report said that women are media shy and are hard to interview unlike men.

Dr Zahara Nampewo, a Makerere University law lecturer, however said that media has to be more deliberate in seeking out women and their views.

“Media is a strong platform that can influence the trend by reporting on progressive stories about women and covering invisible women,” she said.

Ms Flora Aduk, the Magazines editor at Daily Monitor said there is need for more women at the top to influence editorial decisions.

Findings from ACME’s report on how the media covered the 2016 general elections also show that male sources dominated news reports at more than 80% (between September 2015 and March 2016).

Various speakers appealed for training on gender-sensitive reporting for journalists as a way of changing the way women are portrayed and reported about in the media.

Read the full report below.

Grace Natabaalo

Grace Natabaalo is a programme assistant at the African Centre for Media Excellence.

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