Missing: Half The Story (Journalism As If Gender Matters)

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Item Code: NAG437
Publisher: Zubaan Publications
Author: Kalpana Sharma
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788189884833
Pages: 316
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 350 gm
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Book Description

About the Book


These are not the questions journalists usually ask when they set out to do their jobs as reporters, sub-editors, photographers or editors. Yet, by not asking, are they missing out on something, perhaps half the story? This is the question this book, edited and written by journalists, for journalists and the lay public interested in media, raises. Through examples from the media, and from their own experience, the contributors explain the concept of gender- sensitive journalism and look at a series of subjects that journalists have to cover - sexual assault, environment, development, business, politics, health, disasters, conflict - and set out a simple way of integrating a gendered lens into day-to-day journalism. Written in a non-academic, accessible style, this book is possibly the first of its kind in India - one that attempts to inject a gender perspective into journalism.


About the Author


Kalpana Sharma is an independent journalist, columnist and media consultant based in Mumbai. She writes regularly for several newspapers and websites on a range of issues including urban development, gender, contemporary politics and the media. She was, until 2007, Deputy Editor and Chief of Bureau, The Hindu in Mumbai. Among her publications are:


Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories from Asia's Largest Slum (2000), Terror Counter- Terror: Women Speak Out (2003) and Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues (199412006), both co-edited with

Ammu Joseph. She has also contributed chapters to several books and is a founder-member of the Network of Women and Media, India.




The idea of a book on gender sensitive writing in journalism emerged from our constant interaction with media leaders, working journalists, and students of journalism and media studies through our Laadli media initiatives and our youth interventions under project "Maadhyam-Youth for Change". Whenever the subject of "Gender Sensitivity" was broached by us, we received stock responses such as, "We cannot write from a gender perspective considering the time, space and editorial policy constraints," ''Writing from a gender perspective will make the article boring and uninteresting", ''We are here to report and not to promote any ideology or perspective." We would often draw on examples to support our point that one can be gender sensitive in reporting without compromising on readability or relevance. We also found that there was not much focus on gender in the curriculum of journalism and media studies courses.


This book was conceptualized to create, among working journalists, an understanding of gender and what gender sensitive journalism can mean by bringing together a number of articles written from such a perspective. Kalpana Sharma, former Bureau Chief of The Hindu in Mumbai and well known writer, responded promptly to our request to edit the book and offered to enlarge the scope by including chapters that deal with the conceptual framework for addressing various issues such as violence and conflict, health and sanitation, sports, business, politics, economics and environment including manmade and natural disasters - all from a gender perspective.


We are grateful to Kalpana and to the other contributors, Ammu Joseph, Laxmi Murthy, Sameera Khan and Rajashri Dasgupta for making this book possible. We would also like to acknowledge the Zubaan team for publishing the book.


There is general elation at the prospect of India emerging as one of the economic super powers of the world in the years to come. Yet, India is far behind when it comes to human development and gender development indices. It is time we focussed on these issues. We are convinced that media has a major role to play in highlighting and pursuing gender and social development issues to ensure that laws, policies and programmes are implemented with efficiency, transparency and accountability. We are sure this book will be a useful resource for media personnel and it is our hope that it will motivate them to be more proactive in addressing gender issues, thus making gender sensitivity an integral part of media reporting.




Journalists are journalists, but they are also rich or poor or middle class (probably the majority), fat or thin, lower or upper caste, men or women, left wing or right wing or neither. In other words, a journalist is not just a journalist. She or he carries baggage, from earlier socialisation, from present day influences and from realities about which they had no choice - such as gender or caste.


Objectivity is the ideal all journalists strive for. We believe that our training equips us to distance ourselves as we report on a whole range of situations and comment on everything from films to fires to terrorism. Yet, scratch any journalist and you will soon discover that this objectivity is precisely that - a desirable norm that cannot be easily attained. Only the more honest will admit that there can never be anything like "objective" journalism and that everything that we write is ultimately mediated by our own hidden or open biases. The choices we make in terms of what we include and what we leave out, the choices we make about what we emphasise, the choices we make about who we speak to and those we ignore, the choices we make about the stories we follow through and those we drop - all these are not dictated by some absolute or objective norms. Sometimes they are dictated by the orientation of our particular publication or media of women's perspective and not in the larger gender perspective that has emerged over time. So what we are suggesting here, as a step beyond what was suggested in Whose News? is the "genderisation" of journalism if you will; something that applies to reporting, editing and feature writing.


This book has been an exciting collaborative effort, facilitated by the wonders of email that allows instant communication even if we are based in different locations. And indeed, we were. While Laxmi Murthy was in Kathmandu, Rajashri Dasgupta lives in Kolkata, Ammu Joseph in Bangalore and Sameera Khan and I are in Mumbai. Even as the book was being conceived, five of us exchanged notes and points, based on our individual experiences of reporting, editing and teaching, and jointly arrived at its content. I might point out that this kind of collaboration between journalists, who are not deprived in the ego department, is fairly rare. We were able to do this because we have worked together for almost a decade to build and nurture a network of women journalists across India- the Network of Women in Media, India (www.nwmindia.org).This is also, probably, the first book of its kind by media professionals in India that specifically addresses the aspect of gender in journalistic writing.








Section One


The Battle of the Sexes and Other Myths


Women, Men and the Emerging Other


Understanding Women's Movements


Gender Sensitivity on the Run


Section Two


When Survivors Become Victims


Why Toilets and Forests Matter to Women


Disasters, Conflicts and Gender


The Politics of Invisibility


Women are not a Disease


Section Three


Singur's Women: From Warriors to Women


Sanitation in the Time of Floods


In Search of Water


Women Farmers Ready to Beat Climate Change


Being Hillary


The Caregiver's Burden


Charting Their Own Course


Uncovering Women's Work


Reporting on Trafficking in Women


Information as Empowerment


Missing in Action




Annexure 1


Annexure 2


Notes on Contributors



Sample Pages

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