Let me first begin by congratulating the Indian Women’s Press
Corps (IWPC), a reputed association of women journalists on completing 25 successful years. It was set up in 1994 to support women journalists in their professional work, in enhancing their knowledge and skills and to provide a forum for networking.
I am glad that the organization has been playing a key role in creating a conducive working environment for women journalists and also working towards safeguarding their rights. This non-profit, nonpartisan, progressive, professional organization has been focusing on creating a positive change for women journalists.
With reporters, editors, producers, anchors, and cameraperson from across the print, TV and new media as its members, the organization has become an important institution and has been organizing press meets and interactions with eminent personalities from various fields.
It is commendable that women have come forward in such large numbers to join this noble profession to play their rightful role as the fourth pillar of the state.
I was informed that IWPC has been providing essential infrastructure support to women journalists by supporting them in performing their duties both on the field and at the desk.
The press and the media played a pioneering and stellar role in inspiring the masses to fight against the British during the freedom struggle and in strengthening the democratic foundations in the country since Independence.
Journalism provides citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
The purpose of journalism is to give people the information they need to make better decisions. In other words, journalism is supposed to empower.
The media has the onerous responsibility to not only provide accurate information but also educate the people on their rights and responsibilities as well.
As we all are aware, the media landscape has transformed dramatically over the years and so have the values and ethics of journalism.
Professions such as Politics, Medicine, and journalism were considered as a mission and those who were in the job used to commit to ethics. Unfortunately, there is a decline in such commitment due to various factors including business and politics. Unfortunately, stories or reports are being mixed with views according to the management’s line of thinking.
Adding to this is the menace of fake or doctored stories that find a way to masses via news, internet, and messaging services. Such instances have often led to chaos, confusion, and panic.
I have been urging the media not color news with views and have been stressing the need to maintain objectivity, fairness, and accuracy.
The cardinal principle of journalism is to present fair, objective, accurate and balanced information to the reader and viewer without journalists assuming the role of the gatekeepers.
I am glad that many journalists follow these principles ensuring that Indian media is by and large credible.
Journalists are catalysts for change and media acts as an instrument to bring in a positive change in society. Media professionals are the watchdogs of society and strengthen democracy through their observations, suggestions, and writings.
It is unfortunate that we still come across instances of harassment of women, gender discrimination and domestic violence. The glass ceiling limited women’s opportunities for growth is, unfortunately, still a reality in contemporary society.
According to the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), as per the latest data of 2015, globally, women as news reporters were most present on radio at 41% and least in print news at 35%. (TV and Internet constituted the remaining 24%).
The report said that the global share of women reporters dropped on radio and television by four percentage points in both mediums between 2010 and 2015.
The report pointed out that between 1995 and 2015, the percentage of women media professionals rose from 17% in (Newspaper, Television, Radio) to 24%, which is a 7% rise. Men still dominate the industry with 76%.
Findings of another study, "Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations of Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific", launched by UNESCO, and the UN Women and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) suggested that the presence of women in media has more than doubled in two decades but they constitute only 28.6 percent of the media workforce in Asia and the Pacific and men outnumber women in 4:1 ratio in India.
It pointed out that “on average across Asia and the Pacific, women make up 28.6 percent of the media workforce. The proportions are lower in decision-making roles in media organizations where women make up 17.9 percent of executive roles, 19.5 percent of senior editorial and 22.6 percent of mid-level editorial positions.”
Another recent report released by UN Women, female journalists in India "continue to be denied their fair share" at major media organizations in India. The report, "Gender Inequality in Indian Media", pointed out that women were better represented online than in newspapers and TV.
Keeping these things in mind, collective efforts must be made by the managers of News organizations, Associations such as yours and the Press Council of India and the NBA must work together and find out a way to address disparities based on gender within the profession.
A systematic, structured approach must be put in place by the media and the government to address all the crucial matters relating to women's safety, security, and dignity. There is an urgent need to end gender discrimination and neglect of women.
I am happy to know that the organization has been organizing regular workshops, and training sessions for its members to achieve its important goal of advancing the impact of women in the media by being a resource to members and the industry.
As you all are aware, women’s participation is extremely crucial to ensure the overall development of the nation. It is the responsibility of the governments, institutions, media and civil society to see that women are made equal partners in the developmental process of the nation.
The media must highlight the success stories of women achievers to inspire others.
As we celebrate the 25 years journey of IWPC, we must strive to set higher benchmarks and achieve excellence in the field of media.
I would like all of you to inform and educate people with well documented, research-based reports based on facts. Fearless adherence to truth should be your creed.
The rise of social media has increased competition among entities, organizations. It is important our newsrooms and professionals are trained and sensitized on flashing news and updates by exercising greater caution.
Collective efforts need to arrest sensationalism, end biased coverage and paid news. Entire Media, as a responsible institution, must contribute to strengthening democratic foundations of the country.
Here, the Press Council and Media Organizations including yours should take lead in training professionals to be more responsible in disseminating information.
You must empower the audience or readers to make informed choices.
I urge the media, especially regional and vernacular Media organizations to promote Indian languages, culture, and traditions of different states and regions through special programs along with the news.
In the end, I urge the media to focus on rural India. We must lay special emphasis on matters relating to farmers, women, youth, entrepreneurs.
I am happy to learn that IWPC has been providing important professional resources to women journalists like library, computers and enabling its members to meet newsmakers from all walks of life on a regular basis.
I am sure such support helps all the journalists, especially the young journalists to learn from their seniors during their interactions and upgrade their professional skills.
I once again convey my wishes to the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) and all its members on their contribution to the profession and the nation.