Gender Links (GL), the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), hosted the third Gender and Media Summit from 10-12 August 2008 in Johannesburg.
Hosted under the theme, “Whose news, whose views? Critical citizens, responsive media”, the summit brought together media practitioners, trainers and gender activists from Southern Africa to share best practices in creating a more responsive media.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) South Africa hosted a discussion forum aimed at identifying strategies to enhance citizen participation in collecting, reporting and disseminating information. The discussion forum formed part of MISA South Africa’s annual general meeting on 25 July 2008 in Johannesburg.
The media’s role in supporting democracy and development has long debated. Increasingly, this debate has extended to how activists use media to advance their own agendas. Objectivity is one of the core principles of journalism. Yet, everyone comes from a certain historical, ideological, and experiential background. Journalists, like anyone else can be passionate about certain causes, and have opinions. On the other hand, activists who effectively use media can advance their own issues and causes, to advocate for change.
The recent graduation ceremony of 11 participants who completed the 'Gender and Media Literacy 2007’ course organised by Gender Links highlighted the need for programmes that develop the culture of critical media consumption among South Africans.
Gender Links’ Executive Director Colleen Lowe-Morna, noted that the course seeks to promote dialogue and debate on topical issues pertaining to gender in the media.
The extent to which the media influences public opinion is contested. However, many agree that the mass media plays a significant role in shaping public opinion and it is this critical media role that acted as an important catalyst in the establishment of Gender Links (GL).
It is an unfortunate fact that the media of the 21st century is still very sexist and biased in its reporting of women and women’s issues.