Friday, April 9, 2010

A Different Point of View

In "Media Ownership: Impact on Minority Ownership and Localism", Carol Jenkins writes, "I am speaking here on behalf of what we call the Invisible Majority, the women in this country who account for 51 percent of the population, yet own less than 5 percent of television stations and 6 percent of radio stations."

With these statistics and the ones from NOW's "Women in Media Fact Sheet" ("Only one in four communications/media jobs created between 1990 and 2005 were filled by women," "The premiere news program on network television...currently boasts 10 regular correspondents and contributors, of whom three are women. None are people of color,") it is easy to see how underrepresented women (and ethnic minorities) are in the news media.

One of the reasons for the lack of women and minorities in TV, radio, and newspapers is media consolidation. As discussed in "Media Ownership: Impact on Minority Ownership and Localism" and the Reel Grrls video, all media is essentially owned by one big conglomerate. For example, in radio, Clear Channel owns thousands of radio stations, and when one company owns everything, everything reflects that one company's policies. Jenkins writes, "that company’s hiring practices, editorial policies—and world view– can tilt an entire industry—if not an entire country." That is why it is important to have diversity in our media—so that we will have different points of views expressed in our news. It is so we can hear the opinions of women, women like us, and of minorities. If not, we're all being told to think the same thing by every source we have. Not all of us can relate to the "cantankerous old men" from both extremes of the political spectrum who have arguments that are presented to us as news, as Lisa Ling said in the video from my group's presentation. This is why alternative media becomes essential to have.

An alternative news source that I found is called WINGS: Women's International News Gathering Service, "a series of news and current affairs programs by and about women around the world". Its Audio Archive lists 299 clips about various topics ranging from violence against women to the origin of Western feminism. WINGS is important as a news source because it completely goes against the norms described in this week's readings. Women are not underrepresented because all 299 of the clips are by and about women! It also gives a global scope because the stories aren't just from North America, there are stories from and about Rwanda, India, Guam, Bolivia, etc.

Wings is based in Vancouver, Canada, and its Co-Founder and Series Producer, Frieda Werden actually got involved in women's news reporting when she heard of the 51% statistic, the invisible majority. In this interview with Werden, she states, "The one thing I’m trying to change is the invisibility of women and women’s actions, especially to ourselves and each other. It’s a big job, eh?"

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