Gender mainstreaming in globalized news: cultural globalization and the inter press service
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This research project builds on theories of cultural globalization and feminism to develop a framework for the fair and informed news coverage of women in a globalized world. The case of the alternative news agency Inter Press Service (IPS) is used as an example of a news medium that is globalized in the deterritorialization of its production and distribution of content. IPS provides a particularly interesting study because of its gender mainstreaming policy, as gender equality is a concept that remains contested in nations across the world. While women were undercovered in the early years of IPS, the news agency actively started looking for solutions to this problem as early as 1975. In 1994, a gendermainstreaming project was implemented to improve the coverage of gender issues in IPS. The IPS gender policy reflects the scenario of cultural hybridization through its acknowledgement of the principles of Third World feminism. Interviews with IPS staffers at the North America and Caribbean bureau revealed several obstacles to the implementation of the policy, including unawareness, uncertainty, inconsistency, an vii implicit understanding of the policy, structural constraints, and a self-definition as oppositional to mainstream media. The analysis of stories shows that IPS has only been partially successful in the implementation of the policy. The quantitative analysis showed that male reporters constitute two-thirds of all reporters and write three times as many stories as female reporters. Three times as many male sources than female sources are included in stories, with female sources accounting for 23% of all sources. In 72% of stories the impact of an event on men and/or on women was not shown at all. The qualitative analysis revealed several cases in which women were ignored, trivialized or shown as victims. The most profound example of cultural hybridity in IPS, however, is in the interplay between the universal idea of women’s human rights and the particular local contexts from which stories are written. While IPS is still far from obtaining gender equality in its employment and news content, it sets an example for other news organizations of how globalized journalism can include more diverse perspectives.