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Gender equality in journalism a pressing concern

AMHERST – Society needs to do more to attract women to the profession of journalism and curb sexual harassment against women reporters.

That was the message Lisa Emery imparted to people attending the International Women’s Day luncheon at the Lions Club in Amherst on Friday.

“The news media still hasn’t achieved anything that resembles gender equality,” said Emery, of CFTA-FM, Community Radio in Amherst.

Giving a talk called #Press for Progress, Emery pointed to statistics from the Women’s Media Centre’s annual report that shows an imbalance of women in newsrooms.

The reports say’s that the representation of women in sports journalism dropped from 17 per cent to 10 per cent last year, that women are on camera 32 per cent of the time in evening broadcast news, and they write 37 per cent of print news stories.

Emery also said men dominate hard news, including 65 per cent of political stories, 63 per cent of science stories, 64 per cent of world politics, and 67 per cent of criminal justice news.

She also said newspaper editorial boards are, on average, made up of more men than women, and most commentaries and editorials are done by men.

“Opinions are, apparently, a male thing,” said Emery.

Emery also talked about the over-sexualization and sexual harassment of female reporters.

“Today’s society can be very unkind to women that do not fit the perfect idea of what a woman should be or what they should look like,” said Emery. “The over-sexualization happens across almost all news outlets. Just turn on your television to any news show that has female news anchors.”

The past few years has seen female reporters across North America being tormented live on-air with a much-used, offensive sexual expression, the most recent incident involved Heather Butts, a reporter with CTV News in Halifax.

The expression was hurled at Butts during a live broadcast from the Pint Public House in Halifax on Dec. 29, 2017.

A 25-year-old Dartmouth was later charged with public mischief and causing a disturbance.

Emery said the MeToo movement has helped women bring their stories about sexual harassment into the open.

“The hashtag MeToo movement saw powerful women come out of the shadows to share their stories and we watched many powerful men fall from their lofty pedestals.”

Emery finished by giving hope for a brighter future for women.

“A new day is on the horizon, and when that day dawns it will be because a lot of women, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure they become the leader who will take us to the time when nobody ever has to use the hashtag Me Too again.”

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