The Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC) on September 23rd, 2022 invited Ms. Mythreyee Ramesh for a guest lecture on Gender Sensitive Reporting for the students of Batch 2024.
Working as the Gender Correspondent for The Quint, Ms. Ramesh has been telling stories about women and the LGBTQIA+ community across India in a multimedia format. Having completed her Master’s in Journalism from the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (SIMC), Ms. Ramesh worked with The Indian Express as an intern before joining The Quint in 2017.
The lecture began with the distribution of tags on which the participants were asked to write their names and pronouns. After a brief introduction, Ms. Ramesh screened an ad film about road safety that indirectly promoted dowry, asking the participants to opine on the same.
Next, the topic of ‘Why Gender-Sensitive Reporting Matters?’ was taken up. She explained how gender-sensitive reporting builds trust and provides an accurate representation of society. The Dos and Don’ts for covering gender stories – including using gender-sensitive language and avoiding stereotypes – were also discussed. Ms. Ramesh said that language is of utmost importance when covering the gender beat. Often, in mainstream media, we see women being portrayed as victims when they should be referred to as survivors.
During the session, Ms. Ramesh also stressed on the importance of ‘Passing the Mic’ while covering stories related to gender – getting the people to tell their stories and be heard.
Coming back to the importance of the right language in news reporting, Ms. Ramesh showed four news headlines from the mainstream media pertaining to stories about women. In each of the four, the women were blamed, shamed, victimised, or portrayed in a negative light.
Further, there was a discussion about the need to look at all kinds of stories from the perspective of gender, with the example of the recent protests in Iran being brought up.
The significance of following up on stories a journalist has reported on was also discussed during the lecture. Ms. Ramesh screened a story done on three girls from the lower economic strata who had to drop out of school due to the COVID-19 lockdown. She shared how they received financial help to resume their studies after the story was published, emphasising on the importance of building and retaining the trust of your readers.
The session helped students understand the importance of gender sensitivity in communications as they look to embark on their journey of becoming professionals in the field of media.