Religion & Spirituality

An Assessment of Public Perception of the Female Journalist and the Implications on their Productivity

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This study “An assessment of Public Perception of female Journalists in Benue State and its Implication on their Productivity”, sought to assess perception of female journalists and the effects of such perception on their productivity. The
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  CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1Background to the Study That women constitute the majority of the category of persons whosevoice may not be heard in public is a well-known fact. The marginalization ofwomen is a feature of both developed and developing societies (Gallagher,1985:6). But though the status of women is poor in the developed world, it isso poor in the developing countries that it can only be described as wretched.In Nigeria, for instance, a combination of cultural and religious factors hasreduced women to mere appendages of their male counterparts. A number ofyears after the United Nations Decade for Women ended in 1985 the realitiesof Nigeria’s life have continued to ensure that, even though women make up alarge percentage of the population, their representation in national affairs hasremained insignificant in many spheres, one of which is in journalism. Women journalists still present a paradox in Nigeria, Benue state inparticular. Their presence as professional writers and presenters of news isnow commonplace, yet they continue to be marked as ‘other’, and ‘different’from their male colleagues. In print news, official rhetoric proclaims that a journalist’s gender is irrelevant. However, a number of studies have shown  otherwise. Several researches (de Bruin & Ross, 2004; Djerf-Pierre, 2005;Lofgren-Nilsson, 2010; North, 2009; Ross & Carter, 2011) have shown thatthere is still gender inequality in newsrooms around the world. Feministmedia researchers have been calling for more stories from Africa, Nigeriainclusive, with a particular need for qualitative and comparative analyses ofthe production of news from a gender perspective (Emenyeonu, 2008:5; Bosch,2011; Djerf- Pierre, 2011). However, the impacts of these calls haven’t been feltin Nigeria and most African countries since, compare to their malecounterparts, the female journalist only plays second fiddle, Akinfeleye(2008:16).Gender inequality appears to be supported by the media treatment ofwomen who are mostly ignored, denied or invisible. When they do attainvisibility it is done with biases and negative stereotypes, since all they do is toplay supportive roles for the natural order. They are given little voices,demeaned through various forms of behaviours which further increase theirvulnerability. In agreement, Akinwale (2010), observes that an x-ray of mediacoverage of gender issues in Nigeria depicts an inglorious image of women’sexclusion or marginalization and that rather than give fair and balancedreports of issues from women’s and men’s angles, the news media exclude  women’s voices or portrays them as objects who do not have opinion or onlyfit for advertising models. He concludes that they are almost never key playersin media issues. Women’s exclusion from the media is not surprising since themedia in Benue State serve as government mouthpieces or the mouthpieces oftheir owners who more often than not are men. This seems to legitimize theirfocus on government activities and male subjects since very few womenoccupy government positions, Ifeoma (2014:3).The media, in addition to being agents of socialization, are believed to be the main setters of public agenda. They choose what they considerimportant enough for the society to at least think about. Consequently it maynot be out of place to consider the media powerful enough to change theimbalance in gender relations in Nigeria as they can through sustainedadvocacy, serve as veritable tools for dismantling the patriarchal structureswhich seem to be the root cause of the imbalance by placing the issues high ontheir agenda. However scholars argue that the reverse seems to be the case.Okunna (2005:2), asserts that women are made invisible through the nonrepresentation of their points of view or perspectives of the world and citingGallagher, She further submits that even when women do achieve visibility inmedia content, the manner of their representation reflects the biases and  assumptions of those who define the public and therefore media agenda, aphenomenon she described as mediated invisibility. Similarly, Gerbner et al.(1989:303), identifying this invisibility as symbolic annihilation, argued thatthose who are at the bottom of the various power hierarchies will be kept intheir places through their relative invisibility. This is in line with the view ofthe CNN reporter, Susan Anita who stated that the public perceived the mediaworld to be run by bleeding heart liberals more focused on homeless sheltersthan tax shelters when in reality, it is a business like most others, run largely by men who push back at serious threats to their authority, Susan (2014:2).It is therefore based on the foregoing, that this study seeks to assesspublic perception of female journalists in Benue State and its implication ontheir productivity. 1.2Statement of the Problem The millennium declaration and MDGs opened a new door for theadvancement of gender equality in the world. In 2000, 189 member states ofthe United Nations met and made a declaration to advance a vision ofimproving the condition of humanity throughout the world in the areas of  development and poverty eradication, peace and security, protection of theenvironment and human rights and democracy. One of the critical areas ofachieving this vision was the advancement of women’s right to genderequality. However, more than a decade after that declaration, Nigerian womencontinue to experience marginalization in every sphere of human endeavour,one of which is in journalism. Although recent researches (Emenyeonu,2008:5; Bosch, 2011; Djerf- Pierre, 2011) show an improvement in the publicperception with regards to female journalists, this had not been reflected intheir level of involvement in media matters in Nigeria in general and BenueState in particular, as they are mostly left out of the management and decisionmaking framework of the industry. Questions on the effect of publicperception of female journalists on their level of involvement and performancein journalism can therefore be asked. It is in a quest to proffer answers to thesequestions that this study seeks to empirically establish how the publicperceive female journalists in Benue State and the implication of suchperception on their productivity. 1.3Objectives of the Study
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