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Media Diversity Blog Space

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Aidan White

Published: 13 February 2013

Country: UK

by Aidan White

lego pg 3Lego has ended a partnership with The Sun newspaper after online protests by anti-Page 3 campaigners who generated a wave of condemnation over the toymaker’s links with a paper that defiantly continues to publish nude pin-ups, despite growing unease that this tawdry feature of tabloid newspapers has definitely passed its sell-by date.

The Guardian reports that this decision by the Danish company, whose global brand is known to hundreds of millions of parents and children worldwide, is being seen as a victory by campaigners against press sexism.

In particular, for Steve Grout, who launched an online petition to protest over Lego’s involvement with The Sun when his two young sons aged seven and nine started asking him to buy the paper because Lego was offering free toys to readers.

"My kids started on at me, saying 'I wanna buy the Sun',” he told The Guardian “It sowed a seed in their mind that the Sun is linked to toys, but I don't want my kids to see a naked woman in the newspaper."

His petition launched on the activists’ web-site Change.org touched a nerve and attracted more than 12,000 signatures in less than two weeks.


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Aidan White

Published: 27 February 2013

Country: UK

by Aidan White

radio 4 presentersAspects of how women are marginalised in media – old and new – have been highlighted on both sides of the Atlantic.

Harriet Harman, the combative deputy leader of the Labour opposition party and a veteran campaigner for women’s rights, has hit out at age discrimination against women in British media.

As the shadow minister for culture she has put major news media on the spot with a written demand to seven broadcast chiefs to give full details of how many women of 50 and over are employed as newsreaders, presenters and reporters.

At the same time in the United States the Women’s Media Center has released its 2013 report on the Status of Women in the US Media which finds that online media, far from offering more opportunities for women to play a role in journalism, is behaving just as badly as legacy media. When it comes to the profile and visibility of women in media they still come a distant second with men dominating bylines and stories.

Both events reveal how a continuing failure to deliver anything close to equality of treatment for women in the news business remains a major challenge at home and abroad.

 


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Aidan White

Published: 7 February 2013

Region: MENA

by Aidan White

protests_in_Arab_world_over_youtube_movieBloodshed  in Libya, civil war in Syria and a toxic mix of sectarianism and political deadlock in Tunisia and Egypt have taken the shine off  the Arab Spring, particularly for many people in journalism and news media.

The pace of change has slowed dramatically since December 2011, when demonstrations, protests and unprecedented expression of people power in Tunisia first ignited demands for democratic reform across the Middle East and North Africa.

But there are still reasons to be cheerful. Journalists and media leaders including publishers, editors, and experts from a number of Maghreb countries met last month in Tunisia determined to inject fresh life into the movement for media reform.

They adopted a plan of action – the Hammamet Declaration – which aims to target hate speech, sectarianism and undue political pressure on media.

Among their proposals is the adoption of a code of ethics for journalism, which will be important to strengthen public credibility. They also aim to establish an observatory to monitor media performance and they plan to create a working professional network across the Maghreb to improve the economic, social and professional conditions in which journalists work.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 8 January 2013

Country: Egypt

by Mike Jempson

egyptmassphoto“Please, please tell people its safe to come here!” The parting words of a young woman journalist I worked with in Cairo, just before Christmas.

She is not the only one who fears that that constant coverage of the increasingly impatient and violent demonstrations for and against President Morsi are giving western eyes the wrong impression. Others are ashamed that the world can see that ‘their revolution’ is sputtering out in the dusty gutters of overcrowded cities like Cairo and Alexandria.

“We voted for Morsi because we could not vote for Mubarak’s man, Ahmed Shafik,” said one young radical. “We could not believe that he would turn on us like this. We have replaced one dictator with another.”

During the week between the two days of voting on a referendum to accept or reject a new constitution for the country, most people I met were opposed to it but resigned to the near absolute control it will give to the Muslim Brotherhood, their Salafist allies and the army.


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Aidan White

Date: 11 December 2012

Region: Denmark, Worldwide

by Aidan White

danish_cartoons_protest_in_iraqSix years after the Danish cartoons crisis opened up a chasm of controversy and misunderstanding over different approaches to free speech between Christiane and Muslims, a team of researchers in Copenhagen have pointed the finger at media which they accuse of reinforcing prejudice and Islamaphobia. The research did not make big news in Denmark when it was published earlier this year – in fact, it was barely reported at all by the country’s media – but it is making headlines in the Muslim world.

The results of the research into the performance of four major national newspapers in reporting Muslim and Islamic affairs indicate that media are falling woefully short of the editorial standards required to provide balanced and inclusive coverage. Not surprisingly, say the researchers, Islam is perceived negatively by most Danes.

Despite the fact that the cartoons crisis provoked a polarising political debate about differences over free expression in the west and the Arab and Muslim world, the media culture that created the firestorm in the first place remains largely unchanged.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 3 December 2012

Country: Hungary

by Bea Bodrogi*

roma_hungary_documentaryNon-governmental organisations in Hungary recently claimed a victory in their fight for the human rights and rights of ethnic minorities and Roma community rights. That is because the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, ombudsman Máté Szabó has concluded that the film titled „Pesty Fekete Doboz: Hungarian/Gypsy Co-existence” had violated the right to equal dignity.

Ombudsman Szabó took measures to ensure that the Media Authority in Hungary proceed with more professionalism in the future with regards to the protection of equal dignity and that it apply the instruments at its disposal and granted to it by law.

This confirms the claim of non-governmental organisation CivilMedia that the Media Authority’s interpretation and application of the law did not meet constitutional standards.

CivilMedia and several other organisations in Hungary protested after the documentary film „Pesty Fekete Doboz” was shown by state broadcaster in March this year.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 3 December 2012

Country: UK

by Aidan White

burka_uk_pressThe need for urgent action to curb sensational and unethical journalism in the British press is not just about phone-hacking, door-stepping celebrities or intrusion into the private lives of stricken families. It’s also about how some sections of the press are actively engaged in feeding hatred and prejudice.

As a political firestorm rages around the report by Lord Justice Leveson into press ethics and its call for an independent regulator, it’s worth noting the report’s findings and its demand for a wholesale review of how journalism works and particularly in press coverage of race, migration and asylum issues. In his wide-ranging survey of sensationalism and malpractice Leveson concludes that press irresponsibility in this area is not “an aberration.”

He says: “There are enough examples of careless or reckless reporting to conclude that discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers is a feature of journalistic practice...”

The extensive evidence put before the inquiry – which can be seen at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc07/0780/0780_ii.pdf -- illustrates, for instance, how Muslims, migrants, asylum seekers as well as gypsies and travellers are routinely victims of press hostility and xenophobia.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 28 November 2012

Region: South-East Europe, Bucharest

by Aidan White

seenpm_journalists_balkansAny hope that political pluralism and the lure of membership of the European Union might give democracy and media a lift in south eastern Europe is still wishful thinking according to new reports on the state of media in the Balkans.

Twenty years after the fall of communism and 13 years on from the last military action in the region, there is still a poisonous mix of hate speech and intolerance at work in media particularly in Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. And across the region journalists work in an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship.

These are the conclusions of initial country reports from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, which were presented at the South East Europe Network for Professionalisation of Media (SEENPM) conference in Bucharest on 16-17 November.

The reports, which will be finalised and published early next year, reveal a picture of media struggling to survive in a suffocating atmosphere of political and corporate corruption.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 07 November 2012

Country: Colombia

by Aidan White

colombia_el_sofa_lgbtThe chief of a public television channel in Colombia, who slapped down a public official when he demanded a list of lesbian or gay media staff, shows how media employers need to react swiftly when political bigots try to undermine their journalists.

Hollman Morris, the director of Canal Capital, in Bogota, is a distinguished and award-winning journalist who spent more than 15 years covering Colombia’s internal armed conflict, with a particular focus on human rights.

He came under attack from Marco Fidel Ramirez, a local councillor and pastor, who accused him of using his channel to promote a lesbian and gay agenda in the city.


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Dasha Ilic

Published: 18 October 2012

by Aidan White

julia_gillardSexism in public life is hardly new, but in the last few days angry scenes in the Australian parliament and some sharp research in Britain highlight the particular role media play in creating unacceptable stereotypes of women.

When Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard vigorously rounded on opposition leader Tony Abbott last week accusing him of hypocrisy and misogyny she was widely praised, but not by the mainstream media which said she was diverting attention from problems of sexism within her own party.

However, this was a predictable media response say observers who complain that when it comes to bias, discrimination and gender stereotypes journalism is part of the problem.


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