Incorporating Gender into the Existing Curricula: Some Outlines

Taken from:
Adhikary, N. M. (Ed.). (2011). Gender studies to journalism students: A module. Jawalakhel, Lalitpur: Sancharika Samuha Nepal.

Background:
In 2010, a research was conducted in order to assess journalism education in Nepal from gender perspective:
Adhikary, N. M. (Ed.). (2010). Journalism curricula in Nepal: A study from gender perspective (Unpublished research report). Ekantakuna, Jawalakhel: Sancharika Samuha Nepal.
Click here to read a part of the research.

And, in 2011, following module was launched in a program jointly organized by Sancharika Samuha Nepal and UNFPA on December 22, 2011 at Martin Chautari in Kathmandu:
Adhikary, N. M. (Ed.). (2011). Gender studies to journalism students: A module. Jawalakhel, Lalitpur: Sancharika Samuha Nepal.
The module consists of two parts:
(i) Foundation of Gender Studies to Journalism Students: A Module (Click here to read this module)
(ii) Incorporating Gender into the Existing Curricula: Some Outlines
Here, the second one (Incorporating Gender into the Existing Curricula: Some Outlines) has been presented.

Following are some outlines regarding how gender content, including gender based violence, could be incorporated into the existing curricula of journalism in Nepal. Though not exhaustive the discussion outlined here certainly serve as guidelines to illustrate how gender can be systematically brought into teaching and learning journalism and allied subjects even if the curriculum does not specifically mention anything in this regard. What has been presented below should be considered as exemplar. Nevertheless, there needs developing the course description, course objectives, and course content and providing samples of readings to illustrate how gender can be systematically brought into the following and other courses in journalism programs.

• Introduction to Journalism (or Reporting and Editing)
The introductory course/paper on journalism (or reporting and editing) could be made gender sensitive through lectures, assignments, group discussions, and presentations on various aspects of journalism. Both reporting and editing could be taught in gender sensitive way.
In case of reporting, identifying women sources in the course of newsgathering, techniques for interviewing women as sources, the use of sex-disaggregated data, and the use of gender-responsive language in news writing could be brought into focus in the classroom. Identification of sources and their inclusion in news stories could be treated in gender sensitive ways. In this regard, students could be assigned to observe news media to find out who speaks and who does not speak in and through the media. For instance: Who are the persons shown or quoted in various newspapers of a particular day? What is the proportion of men and women sources in the news stories? Who are dominant in hard news? Who are mentioned as spokespersons and experts? Thus, students could be sensitized against what is called symbolic annihilation – making women virtually absent in news.
Critical discussions on newsworthiness and news values could include why gender (in)equality is not considered newsworthy. Related issues could be: whether the violations of women’s human rights and discrimination against women are given coverage on news media; whether the media’s coverage of gender issues such as violence, and sexual and reproductive health, are placed on the news pages as issues of concern to everyone or confined to special pages and segments in the media and tagged as ‘women’s issues’.
Students could be assigned to observe through the daily or weekly newspapers and find out: How many images of women are published there? What roles do the women pictured appear in? How many images of men are published? In what roles are they seen? Does there seem some sort of stereotype in the representations? Similarly, they could be assigned to look at the bylines in various newspapers and identify how many of the reporters are male, and how many are female.
Gate-keeping, including framing and priming, also could be taught in a gender sensitive way. Rather than just being limited to the definitions of aforementioned terms, the academic faculties can bring into light that through the selection of types of news stories, choice of words and language used, choice of people interviewed to give their views and perspectives, selection of images to illustrate stories and placement, the media may include/exclude gender based violence and other gender issues.
While teaching copy editing, it could be brought into focus that language may perpetuate stigma, sexism, discrimination and harm, and there needs the use of gender-responsive language to avoid gender stereotypes. Students could be assigned to observe different news media and assess whether they have used gender-blind language in news stories.

• Advance Journalism (or Advance Reporting and Editing)
The advance course on journalism (or reporting and editing) should incorporate reporting on gender-based violence, and other gender issues, as specialized area of journalistic reporting. Other specialized reporting areas also could be treated in gender sensitive way. Development reporting and crime reporting has been discussed below as examples regarding gender sensitive teaching of different specialized reporting themes.
In development reporting, students should be taught that women’s issues are development issues and development issues are women’s issues, because women suffer most when it comes to lack of health, education and other services. Also, awareness could be raised how sex becomes the basis for discrimination and the violation of the rights of women and girls in all societies. Likewise, the ways in which society assigns characteristics and social roles to women and men could be brought into discussion. Students could be oriented to the fact that improvement in the representation of women in the media is one way of reducing violence against women.
In crime reporting, the students could be assigned to observe different crime news stories published/broadcasted through news media and assess: Who are the perpetrators of violence – women or men? Are the perpetrators of violence punished or rewarded? Does there seem a link between how violence is reported and the gender of the reporter? How are rapes and assaults reported in the media? Are these reports sensationalized or trivialized? How are violent crimes against women treated in news stories? Are the victims ridiculed or blamed? Various issues, such as gender-based violence, human trafficking and the spread of pornography and violence against women through the new ICTs, also should be discussed as crucial areas for crime reporting.

• Broadcast Journalism
Just like in the general paper on journalism, gender could be incorporated in broadcast journalism too. Academic faculties could enrich their lectures with gender perspective, for instance, in the course of discussing gathering information and reporting on issues for radio and TV.

• Communication Theories
Feminist communication theories could be brought into the classroom through lectures, discussions, presentations, and other assignments. Students could be taught feminism as one of the essential critical analysis techniques, and the issue of media representation should be dealt with gender sensitivity.

• Media Ethics
Gender should be considered as an important component of attitude and behavior and hence should be integral part of ethics. The students could be taught on how to incorporate gender into media ethics. For instance, the conflict between media operational values and gender-responsive reporting and ethical considerations in reporting on gender-based violence could be dealt in the classroom.

• Media law
The lectures could highlight on the international and regional declarations on women’s right to communicate and women’s access to freedom of expression. Also, the legal provisions on libel, defamation and pornography could be discussed from gender perspective.

• Alternative Media Practices
Students could be taught about such alternative media practices that Gender/Women Right Organizations have been using. It could be highlighted how creations of alternative media in the form of newsletters, feature services, journals, radio, video productions, and online portals have been contributing to provide a space for gender discourse.

• Advertising
Advertising could be enriched with gender perspective in various ways. For instance, it could incorporate the issue of gender stereotypes, and portrayal of women as sex objects, beauty objects in commercials. Students could be assigned to look at the advertisements on TV and in the newspapers and study: Which advertisements have women in them? Which advertisements have men in them? How are the women and men portrayed? How significant and relevant is the women’s appearance in these advertisements? Do the media show women as sex objects for pleasure, consumption? Is there resemblance in the portrayal of women in the advertisements with the women in the society, community, workplace and environment?

• Public Relations
Public relations could incorporate gender advocacy as one of the prospective area for public relations professionals. In this course, it could be taught how public relations expertise could be used to change gender representation and portrayal in and through the media. It could provide opportunity to the students to learn how to work with and through the media to put gender on the news agenda. The strategic use of the media as a tool for advancing gender equality in all sectors, especially public policy, and to bring gender justice to the public’s attention also could be dealt.

• Research Methodology (or Communication/Media Research)
Research methodology could impart skill and knowledge on various research techniques from gender perspective. Including others, content analysis, survey as well as focus group could be enriched with gender.
Content analysis can be employed to all types of communication contents. Gender could provide both conceptual and categorical framework for the analysis of news stories, advertisements, films, TV series, music videos, and other media contents. Students should be taught about feminism as one of the significant critical approaches for textual analysis. By means of content analysis, the inclusion/exclusion of women in news stories and the portrayal of gender stereotypes in various media could be studied very effectively. Also, it could be instrumental to monitor whether the media give fair and equal space and time to women’s and men’s voices.
The research technique of survey may involve developing a questionnaire to gather information and views of journalists, audiences and others on gender issues. Likewise, a focus group can be put together to explore the perceptions and views of people on how women and men are represented in news stories on gender violence.
During the session, the students could be assigned for gender audit of the media. For instance, they could conduct a research whether media coverage on certain issue reflect a holistic and realistic view from gender perspective. Also, such audit could study how gender gaps exist within all media institutions despite size, ownership and media landscape which contribute to gender biases and stereotypes in the media.

nirmalam.adhikary@gmail.com

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