freedom of press

…Gender mainstreaming in reports

Emmanuella Lekwauwa

Media managers in Nigeria have been urged to become intentional in placing more female reporters on investigative desks.

This call was made by Award-winning Investigative journalist, Juliana Francis, during a one-day virtual training on the theme: Building Journalists for Impactful Gender Mainstreaming in Investigative Reporting.

The training, which was convened by Francis, was supported by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), under its Report Women! News and Newsroom Engagement Project, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The panel session was moderated by Mrs. Abosede  Adediran-Aderemi, Anchor at TVC.

Aside from Francis, other members of the panel are the Chief Producer, Voice of Nigeria (VON) and Co-chair, REWON, Olufunke Fayemi, the Publisher of BONEWS, Blessing Olagundoye and Deputy Executive Director, Media Right Agenda, Mr Ayode Longe.

Francis, who is also a Deputy Editor with the Eagle Online and Publisher of Securitynewsalert.com, speaking on ‘Rudiments of Investigative, Gender balanced Reporting,’ said that Investigative journalism was not routine reporting, feature writing or news reporting. She said that investigative reporting involves exposing or uncovering what a person or persons want to hide.

According to her, the central idea of investigative reporting is the demand for justice or correction of ills.

“It is issue-based, scientific in nature and is evidence-based,” said Francis.

She maintained that being a good investigative journalist requires data gathering and research, and looking for a fresh angle to an already published story.

Another vital point, said Francis, was for investigative reporters to cultivate the habit of humanising their story, to grab the attention of readers. They were also urged to follow the ethics of journalism by being objective and getting all sides of the story.

She said: “When we carry out investigative reports, we should look at it from the point of view of women, men and children; and the impact of the issue on all of them. In Nigeria, we do not have enough female investigative reporters, let alone for there to even be an association for such rare breeds of women meeting to brainstorm and share experiences.

“Having more female investigative reporters in the newsroom means having equal representation in our newsroom. Media houses and editors should become intentional about putting female reporters on the investigation desk and ensure that fresh graduates understudy people who are already investigative journalists. They should ensure that fresh female graduates in the newsroom get mentorship from experienced investigative reporters.”

In analysing some of the misconceptions, Francis said that most people think investigative reporting is all about going undercover, which also makes many people feel women should not get involved in such kind of journalism.

“The good thing about investigative reporting is that you can break into any beat and carry out any investigation. There is no limitation. However, we should become gender-balanced investigative reporters by reflecting both women’s and men’s voices in our reports,” said Francis.

Fayemi, who spoke on the ‘Issues Affecting Gender Mainstreaming in Journalists’ Reports,’ stated that some

factors militating against gender mainstreaming in the Nigerian journalism sector are cultural, ownership policies, absence of mentorship, patriarchy, and religion.

She identifies journalists as gatekeepers, who are accountable to the public. At the same time, she stated that Journalism requires hard work and personal effort for one to be successful

She added: “Investigative journalism is time-consuming, and you must be ready to go the extra mile and develop, train, and retrain yourself. Every time you expect an organisation to train you, it might not work like that because funding is gradually going down.”

While highlighting the importance of women covering peculiar issues that affect their counterparts, she called on journalists to be deliberate in giving attention to stories and handling angles that pertain to women and children.

She added that the gender and equality bill that passed the second reading by Senator Biodun Olujimi seeks equal rights for women, men and persons living with disabilities. She said that the Bill seeks equal opportunities for all, stressing that equality in the journalism space was very important.

Fayemi said: “Gender mainstreaming is the consciousness of the fact that any drive for a balanced newsroom which does not incorporate both men and women based on gender equality and merit will keep lagging in their response to developmental gender reportage so for rapid nation building, for development in our communities’ gender main streaming is key and we all need to key into it.”

She further stressed: “Why gender mainstreaming in investigate journalism is important is because to change the narratives about the peculiar cases, issues, needs, policies, believes, myths and more about women, its only someone that understands these or that is in the same boat that knows where the shoe pitches and can go all out irrespective of the obstacles and challenges to unravel the hidden.”

Olagundoye, who shared her views while speaking on  ‘Intentional, Gender Sensitive Reporting of PWDs,’ said: “Women in society face discrimination based on their exposure, status, and class, but when we come with persons with disabilities, they are worse discriminated against and cannot get out to make their voices heard. As such, it is important to be deliberate in mainstreaming women with disability in our reportage.”

She advised journalists to seek mentorship to achieve a more significant impact in their stories, network with people, be goal-oriented and ensure they capture persons with disabilities in their reportage.

The Deputy Executive Director, Media Right Agenda, Mr Ayode Longe, speaking on ‘Using FOI to enhance investigative reports,’ said that on May 28, former President Goodluck Jonathan signed the FOI Act into law, thereby serving as a tool to hold the government accountable by asking relevant information to achieve equality, diversity and inquisitively.

Longe said: “The FOI Act give us legal right and has become a vital tool in a journalist’s hand. The heart of reporting is the ability for journalists to get information, of which the FOI Act is designed as a check to hold public office holders accountable to us. Besides, you can request the FOI Act as an individual, journalist, non-governmental organisation or through a lawyer.

“By systematically using the FOI Act to target certain types of information and materials, the media and individual journalists can help to reveal corruption, abuse of public trust, abuse of power or other wrongdoings. Ultimately, this can help to push back on corruption and improve accountability. FOI requests can be used to find out whether public authorities/officials and private bodies covered by the Act are complying with or enforcing applicable rules, standards, regulations, and codes. This is particularly relevant for regulatory bodies and agencies.”

 

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