Advertising has very powerful influence on the content of most media that is available to the public audience. Advertisers who are allowed to sell their goods within the context of the media that is being created often cover the costs of creating, producing and distributing media. Since it is the advertisers’ money that is allowing for the production of media, the companies that are using this resource tend to have a lot of say as to how the content is presented. They feel this is necessary for attaining a marketable audience. This influence often dictates how extreme the representations are and to what extent controversial or eclectic information is presented. Marketable audiences have a reciprocal influence on media.
Without an audience to aim their sales pitches at, advertisers would have little or no incentive to fund the projects that house their ads. So the demographics of a ‘marketable audience’ are also key in determining what type of content is displayed. This is where the viewers of media can start to have an effect on media. The responsibility of the viewer is to be critical in how the advertising effects their attitudes as consumers. Advertisements are often misleading, in that they represent only the best aspects of a product and leave out information that would deter someone from buying their product (e. . environmental effects, economic effects, social effects).
The viewer needs to take some responsibility in researching the products and services that they put their money toward, and should refrain from patronizing companies that have a detrimental effect on society. This is difficult, however, when advertising can be so misleading. Viewers need to also recognize how much they are being catered to by advertisers. Some demographic groups are catered to more than others. Groups that do not, as a whole, represent a ‘marketable audience’ may see fewer advertisements aimed at them. Such groups include ethnic minorities and social subcultures. particular identity. Most advertising seeks to create ads for the homogeneous middle ground.
THE TARGET AUDIENCE
When women are the target audience, a particular formula is followed to present them with an idea of what type of products they should be buying. Products that are aimed at women include beauty aids, household cleaning products, kitchen products, clothing, medicines and diet aids. Services that are aimed at women tend to include health maintenance, beauty maintenance, relationship services, diet services and magazine subscriptions.
In recent years, due to the increasing role of women in the professional workplace, women are included in the marketable audience that includes all business professionals. These services include information services, financial advisors, and training services. Inclusion into this latest group is probably a positive move in the direction of improving women’s’ social-economic status as consumers. But, the overall message that is given to women through the media is that they are the homemakers and that they need to look their best so as to entice their own supposed audience of men.
WOMEN AND THE MEDIA
During the past decade, advances in information technology have facilitated a global communications network that transcends national boundaries and has an impact on public policy, private attitudes and behaviour, especially of children and young adults. Everywhere the potential exists for the media to make a far greater contribution to the advancement of women. More women are involved in careers in the communications sector, but few have attained positions at the decision-making level or serve on governing boards and bodies that influence media policy.
The lack of gender sensitivity in the media is evidenced by the failure to eliminate the gender-based stereotyping that can be found in public and private local, national and international media organizations. The continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media communications – electronic, print, visual and audio – must be changed. Print and electronic media in most countries do not provide a balanced picture of women’s diverse lives and contributions to society in a changing world. In addition, violent and degrading media products are also negatively affecting women and their participation in society.
Programming that reinforces women’s traditional roles can be equally limiting. The world- wide trend towards consumerism has created a climate in which advertisements and commercial messages often portray women primarily as consumers and target girls and women of all ages inappropriately. Women should be empowered by enhancing their skills, knowledge and access to information technology. This will strengthen their ability to combat negative portrayals of women internationally and to challenge instances of abuse of the power of an increasingly important industry.
Self-regulatory mechanisms for the media need to be created and strengthened and approaches developed to eliminate gender-biased programming. Most women, especially in developing countries, are not able to access effectively the expanding electronic information highways and therefore cannot establish networks that will provide them with alternative sources of information. Women therefore need to be involved in decision-making regarding the development of the new technologies in order to participate fully in their growth and impact.
WOMEN WORKING IN THE MEDIA
Since the 1960s, feminists have argued, “it matters who makes it. ” When it comes to the mass media, “who makes it? ” continues to be men. Women working in the media have made some inroads. In 2001, the International Federation of Journalists reported that around the world, 38 % of all working journalists are women. Studies conducted by Canadian researchers Gertrude Robinson and Armande Saint-Jean have found that 28 per cent of newspaper editors are female. And according to San Diego State University communications professor Martha Lauzen, 24 per cent of American television producers, writers, and directors are women.
In addition to being un-represented in positions of authority, women are also under-utilized in covering the subjects considered most important—politics, economy and social trends. However, men continue to occupy approximately 75 per cent of the positions of power in the mass media. And the prospects become much bleaker for women as they climb the corporate ladder. However, men continue to occupy approximately 75 per cent of the positions of power in the mass media. And the prospects become much bleaker for women as they climb the corporate ladder.
As women continue to struggle for equality in the media, the women who actually work in the industry make the biggest difference. Behind the scenes, they can have a definite impact on the ways women are portrayed on the screen and in print. When women have more powerful roles in the making of a movie or TV show, more powerful female characters are depicted on on-screen, women who are more real and more multi-dimensional. The convergence of new media technologies and influx of private media organisations in the last decade has increased the number of women working in both print and electronic media.
However, women have not gained parity with men in terms of participation and decision- making. Top management is still entirely male-dominated and patriarchal with a negligible number of women holding senior positions. Although women have become more visible particularly in radio and television as presenters, announcers and reporters, the gender division of labour is highly pronounced in production, creative and technical departments, which are male dominated. The presence of women is also largely absent in official commissions, boards or committees formed for formulating policies or monitoring the media.
The new information communication technologies (ICTs) that provide opportunities to share information and resources, and link and network with each other faster has emerged in the last few years. But women’s presence in this new communication space still lags far behind. Access to this new medium is particularly difficult for women in poorer and less urbanised areas where telecommunications infrastructures are poor and unaffordable. Lack of skills, training and language accessibility also serves as major deterrents. This under representation of women influences public policy organizations where decisions regarding women and development and governance, in general are made.
PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN
Leadership paradigm has been generally based on male models, as men tend to dominate decision-making positions all over the world. The media fail to understand that there is an enormous range of visions in this world, and how differently people practice and perceive leadership to bring about fundamental positive changes. Most journalists, even female journalists tend to think that only he perception of men is important when dealing with issues such as governance, politics, decision making in civil service, etc.
Women have made significant strides in many areas but the media have been slow to recognize these gains. They do not sufficiently search out the terrain to be able to find women in new roles. With increased voices and protests from active women’s groups some of media’s negative portrayal and representation of women have become quite subtle and insidious in the last few years. However, it is still rare that the media present women as contributors to the development or as professionals in their own field.
The culture of societies is much reflected in the various media reports and presentations. Women are still predominantly portrayed in roles within the home, performing domestic chores. They are more likely to be portrayed as being victim, subservient, dependent, nurturing, selfless, sacrificing mother and wife or as a busy secretary, glamorous model,etc. The lack of a truly gender-sensitive appreciation and analysis of women’s issues by both men and women in media has allowed exploitative and derogatory images of women in media to continue.
The Press Council is the official monitoring body for any violation of media code of conduct. But it usually addresses general media issues and has not exhibited any serious attention to improving media’s portrayal and representation of women.
In the past few years there has been an improved and increased reportage of issues related to women in the media particularly in the print. News related to women though still marginal has started to occasionally occupy important slots like the editorial, feature news, front-page news etc.
However, women’s visibility in the news is still dominated by sensational stories of glamour, domestic violence and other forms of violence. Stories like women coping with adversity sor building their lives are largely missing. Issues affecting women, their vast experiences and their lives, barely find their way into the mainstream media. Likewise, very few informative pieces or feature columns are published for women informing them about their legal rights, or about their potential for political activity.
Many other studies have also established that when women appear in the news, they are mostly projected as passive victims or passive reactors to public events in news media. They hardly appear as speakers or participants in public events. The cumulative and unconscious impact of these media messages, or lack thereof, can very often exacerbate gender discrimination. The mass media could exercise significant influence in helping to remove such prejudice and promote processes as equal partners.
In addition to the problems within the media, there are other problems on gender issues facing the country such as discriminatory laws, unequal property rights, trafficking of women and girl child, lack of women’s participation in public life, problems in acquiring citizenship or nationality, illiteracy, unemployment, degenerating reproductive health conditions, suffering of rural women, and violence against women and girls. Though reporting on such issues is gradually increasing the media are not found to be adequately addressing these issues.
The problems are sometimes further perpetuated by mainstream (male stream) media with portrayals that have only served to reinforce rather than challenge men’s suppression of women. The world of advertising needs constant refueling to keep itself in business. To keep the consumers buying new things, advertisers create symbolic obsolescence. This means that advertisers give the message that old things are out of style and new fashions have to enter. This demand creates the need for certain products where there was no need before the advertisement.
Repeatedly, in every form of media today, women are reinforced to believe that their best assets, in fact, their only redeeming factors as people focus on the quality of their appearance. This message creates an ideal standard for women to judge themselves against. While this message is unfortunate enough, it is worsened by the fact that the images of women that have become the standards of quality are often images of women as men would like to see them. That is, images that portray women as ornaments or objects to be viewed have become the standard that women seek to achieve. .