Opportunities
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 11:08

Who we are

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Bearing Witness to the Genesis and Evolution of the NWMI
by Ammu Joseph and Laxmi Murthy

 

Faced with a breach of copyright by an online publication that has used her photograph without paying for it, a photojournalist posts a request on the yahoogroup, and promptly receives a contact from a fellow member. The publication takes down the photograph and apologises. A brief discussion about copyright and intellectual property ensues on the yahoogroup.


A young journalist shares her experience of persuading an international media outlet to hold back her significant story, based on an exclusive, potentially explosive interview, until she had helped the vulnerable interviewee to secure police protection. She receives appreciation from colleagues and a debate on professional imperatives and ethical practice is initiated.


A forwarded global survey about ‘fixers’ and international correspondents leads to a vibrant discussion in the group about the inequalities among newsgatherers in international, national and local media.


An older journalist thanks a senior colleague for having shared information that enabled her to attend the media session of an international conference on water and sustainable development saying, “This is another example of the strength, cooperation and  good will our network encourages among members.”


An animated discussion about whether or not Hillary Clinton is a feminist, and whether her policies are going to benefit the world, engages members of the WhatsApp group.

These posts triggered animated comments from journalists located in different parts of the country, working in a range of media in various languages: a typical week on the long-established yahoogroup and more recent WhatsApp group of the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI). 

The NWMI is a 14-year-old association that seeks to provide a forum for women in media professions to share information and resources, exchange ideas, uphold media standards and ethics, and promote gender equality within the media as well as society.

The informal collective emerged through a long, slow, participatory, bottom-up process of network building that built upon earlier initiatives by media women in different parts of India. In the first phase (2000-2002), three regional workshops were held: in Bangalore (November 2000), Jaipur (March 2001) and Shillong (September 2001). These meetings sought to determine whether or not women journalists across the country really wished to come together and, if so, for what purpose and towards what end. Several local networks came into being as a result of the regional meetings; journalists from Bihar who had attended the Jaipur meeting went back and organised a large state-level meeting of women journalists a few months later.

The subsequent first national meeting in Delhi brought together over 100 media women from 16 states and the national capital to discuss a variety of issues relating to the media, as well as to decide on the character and form of the proposed network. The NWMI was collectively conceptualised, unanimously endorsed and formally launched on 30 January 2002.

Both the national and the local media women’s networks aim to fulfil multiple objectives, both professional and societal. Apart from their obvious function as a forum for addressing issues related to the media as a workplace, they facilitate career advancement through the sharing of valuable information, contacts, tips and leads, as well as mentoring. In a competitive and increasingly cut-throat professional world, the network offers solidarity and support, recognising achievements of fellow members, sympathising with those who have had bad experiences and helping them overcome difficulties. The solidarity the network provides to independent freelance journalists with no fixed workplace, is particularly significant.

Launched in 2003, the NWMI website (www.nwmindia.org) has slowly evolved into an interesting, useful and effective platform that seeks to promote both professional and personal enrichment. A national e-group was set up after the annual meeting in Hyderabad in 2005 and has become an active forum for discussions on the media, gender and much else. The NWMI also has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. A WhatasApp group launched in October 2016 is the latest medium for quick and dynamic exchanges of views and opinions. In addition, the network has established a tradition of annual or, sometimes, bi-annual national meetings where members can meet each other and interact face to face.

Loose Structure, Tight Funding
The NWMI is a voluntary, informal, non-hierarchical, participatory collective that has no institutional affiliation, infrastructure or paid staff. Decision-making has been transparent and largely consensus-based, following extensive deliberation. It was in 2001, at the ‘mini’ national meeting in Bangalore, that a ‘Working Council’ emerged as a means to expedite decision-making, especially over matters that required a quick response, such as issuing statements and sending letters on behalf of the network. The Working Council consists of co-ordinators representating each of the local chapters, and a few additional members representing the national network.

Local networks that have emerged in a number of cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Delhi, Hyderabad, Imphal, Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram, meet periodically and organise special events such as film screenings, talks, seminars, book launches - especially of members’ publications, exhibitions and music performances.

It has been understood from the beginning that local networks would be autonomous and free to evolve their own identities, structures and modes of functioning, as well as their own priorities and programmes. Many local groups have their own e-groups. Through their informal association with the national network, members of local groups have the benefit of being loosely connected to a larger community of colleagues across the country, gaining strength and confidence from each others’ knowledge and experiences.


Both local groups and the national network occasionally collaborate with other institutions to organise events. For example, in Bangalore the network has partnered with Media Watch Bengaluru to hold periodic events focusing on current issues concerning the media. NWM-Mumbai has co-organised events with the Press Club and the Centre for Education and Documentation, among others. Bengalnet has collaborated with Jadavpur University’s Department of Media Studies and Maitree, a network of women’s groups.

The NWMI is almost entirely dependent on members’ contributions of time, energy and money. Modest annual subscription fees have been introduced by some local networks to meet local needs, and members pay for their own travel to and registration fees at the periodic national meetings. Funds for national meetings are raised by local networks from a variety of sources: corporates, media houses, small businesses, donor agencies, state governments, semi-government media academies, press clubs, journalist unions, as well as individuals (and combinations of these) have provided sponsorship or support of various kinds at various times.

Intense debates have accompanied the choice of funding sources for national meetings and crucial questions are raised for discussion: Will the source attempt to influence the agenda of the meeting? Will it try to determine or impact our stories? What does the donor gain by providing us with funds? Does the donor have a long-term strategy to influence media discourse? Would there be a quid pro quo in some form? Would individual members and their personal or professional ethics be compromised by association with the source? How do we maintain our ethics, credibility and integrity as individuals and as a network? There are no easy answers, but the process of respectful and transparent discussion is greatly valued and encouraged. And there has always been one non-negotiable requirement: whatever the funding sources may be, they are not allowed to determine the agenda of NWMI meetings, including topics discussed and speakers invited.

National Meetings: Merry and Meaningful
The periodic national-level meetings of the NWMI, held in different parts of the country almost every year since 2002, have become an eagerly anticipated feature of network activity. Each meeting is planned and organised by volunteer members of local networks, who somehow make the time and summon up the energy and enthusiasm to do so in the midst of their own professional work and other preoccupations. These meetings constitute a unique opportunity for media women - senior journalists and fresh entrants - from across the country, working in different media, in a variety of languages, to meet, get to know each other, and discuss issues of common interest, as well as share lighter moments, let down their hair, dance and sing. The multiple purposes of these gatherings include:

Providing a forum for media women from across the country to interact; build relationships and contacts; exchange information, experiences and views relating to the profession and society.
Enhancing the knowledge base and understanding of women in media on a wide range of current events and issues, especially but not only those related to gender and media, with a view to improving awareness among media professionals and, in the process, promoting better media coverage of various subjects.
Strengthening the network and giving it direction so that it can play a proactive role in the effort to ensure that the media continue to function as the Fourth Estate and fulfil their vital role in the promotion of democracy and justice.

Participants pay for their own travel to the meeting venue and also contribute registration fees towards expenses (which are kept to a minimum by using relatively inexpensive facilities for both the meeting and accommodation). Many also volunteer to pay extra fees to facilitate the participation of women working in grassroots community media who require such assistance. Local networks often make financial contributions towards the expenses of these meetings – sometimes from their own meagre resources, at other times through voluntary contributions from individual members – as a token of support and solidarity.

Keynote speakers with vast experience in the media arena or on other current topics, are an added attraction of each national meeting.


Some Highlights of Past NWMI National Meetings

 

Delhi, 2002: The NWMI is born.
Keynote Address by Aruna Roy: ‘The Media and The Right to Information’
Panel discussion: Women Covering Conflict, chaired by Harish Khare, deputy editor, The Hindu. Speakers included Jill McGivering (BBC), Catherine Philip (The Times, UK), Padma Rao (Der Spiegel), Aasha Khosa (The Indian Express) and Barkha Dutt (NDTV)

Mumbai, 2004
Major theme addressed: ‘Another Journalism is Possible’ (The meet coincided with the World Social Forum, the theme of which was‘Another World is Possible’)

Hyderabad, 2005
Topics discussed included: Media monitoring and activism, participation of women from Dalit and Muslim communities in the media.

 2005 NWMI

Field trip to meet DDS community radio and video women in Pastapur, AP, after 3rd national meeting, in Hyderabad.

Kolkata, 2006
Panel discussion: ‘Media, War and Conflict: Will the Media in South Asia give Peace a Chance?’ (among the guest speakers were well-known media women from several South Asian countries)

 2006 NWMI Bengal

Panel discussion at the national meet in Kolkata, 2006.

Bangalore, 2007
Keynote Address by internationally renowned feminist writer and activist  Gloria Steinem: ‘The Current Campfire’
Ruth Manorama, well-known women’s rights and dalit rights activist also speaks and gives away the inaugural Anupama Jayaraman Award for young women journalists.

 2007 Bangalore Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem speaks at the 2007 meet in Bangalore. 

Pune, 2008
Keynote address by Mallika Sarabhai: ‘Can responsible media steer the world?’
Panel Discussion: Media, Security forces and Democracy - held at the National Defence Academy (NDA) campus, in Khadakvasla near Pune.

 2008 NWMI Pune

 Members at the Pune meet.

Imphal, 2009
Mainland mediawomen visit marginalised Manipur, experience weeks-long curfew first hand, witness the annual release from hospital of Irom Sharmila and discuss the media and journalism in the state with editors and other journalists in Imphal.

 2009 Manipur And there comes Sharmila

Waiting for Sharmila: participants in NWMI's 7th national meeting, in Imphal, had the privilege of witnessing the release of Irom Sharmila from her internment in hospital in March 2009.

Kozhikode, 2010
Keynote Address by Aruna Roy: 'Media must make the voice of the people heard'
Panel discussion on ‘Media, ethics and paid news’ with Mrinal Pande, TN Ninan, and editors of Malayalam newspapers participating. Public statement: ‘NWMI condemns the phenomenon of "Paid News”.’

2010 Kerala meet

 Mrinal Pande, TN Ninan and editors of Malayalam papers speak on paid news at the Kozhikode meet in 2010.

Bangalore, 2011
NWMI representatives from various cities meet in Bangalore to discuss internal issues.
Functioning is streamlined by setting up a Working Council.

2011 Bangalore

At the end of the mini-meeting of the network in Bangalore, a few participants pose with student volunteers.

Mumbai, 2013: 10th Anniversary Meet
Main theme: ‘The media and gender violence’ (in the aftermath of the gangrape in Delhi in December 2012), with sessions focusing on violence against women in different contexts.

 2013 NWMI Mumbai

 At the end of the Mumbai meet in 2013.

Ahmedabad, 2015
Keynote address by Ela Bhatt, founder, Self-Employed Women’s Association and Narayan Desai, Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith.
Public Statement: “Treat Freelance Journalists as Media Professionals”

2014 Elaben Bhatt inaugurating 11th National Meet of NWMI Ahmedabad

Narayan Desai, Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, and Ela Bhatt, founder, Self-Employed Women’s Association, inaugurating the NWMI meet in Ahmedabad in 2015.

Hyderabad, 2016.
Gender in the Media: Continuities and Discontinuities.  Discussions on inclusive newsrooms, reporting from conflict areas, and media and the law. on Public statement: Media Under Siege.

hyd pub meet1

Ammu Joseph, Vyjayanti Mogli, Laxmi Murthy and Kalpana Sharma at the public session, Hyderabad, 2016.

 

Detailed reports on NWMI national meetings available here: http://www.nwmindia.org/about-us/national-meet-news


The Anupama Jayaraman Memorial Award
The NWMI collaborated with the Bangalore-based Jayaraman family in instituting the Anupama Jayaraman Memorial Award for young women journalists. The Award was set up in memory of Anupama Jayaraman, a young and promising journalist who passed away in January 2006.  Anupama was not only multi-talented and energetic, she also demonstrated a keen interest in issues of human rights and social justice. The Award – a citation and small cash prize – was set up to encourage and honour young women journalists who, like her, believe in meaningful journalism and have the courage and determination to write on issues relating to human rights and social justice. The Award was presented to young women journalists covering women serving in the CRPF; public health services; khap panchayats; child labour and other socially relevant issues. Unfortunately, the Award was discontinued in 2010 due to logistical issues.

Making a Difference
The network helps highlight important issues relating to media standards and ethics, as well as the vital role of the media in society, especially in a developing, democratic and pluralistic country like India. One way in which the NWMI intervenes publicly in affairs relating to the media in general, and the media and women in particular, is through statements issued from time to time on various matters of concern, ranging from questionable media coverage of particular events and issues to instances of professional and sexual harassment in media workplaces, and questions of safety on the job.

Recent Examples of NWMI Interventions:

Combating Sexual Harassment of Women Journalists
Petitioning the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development to withold accreditation of Rupesh Samant, formerly of the Press Trust of India (PTI), to the BRICS Summit in Goa (Oct 15-16). Following sustained advocacy by the NWMI, Samant – accused by several women journalists and media staff of sexual harassment – was denied accreditation. (October 2016) This action was taken after several representations to the PTI management about the allegations against Rupesh Samant, registered as First Information Reports with the police. (January-August 2016)
Demanding institutional redress of sexual harassment and assault of women journalists, in connection with developments at the weekly news magazine, Tehelka, pointing out that that media houses have a long way to go in ensuring safety for women media professionals. (November 2013)

Solidarity and Support
Expressing solidarity with radio journalists of Roshani, the all-women radio and TV station, the voice of the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan, which was destroyed by the Taliban on September 28. (October 2015)
Condemning the prolonged and traumatic sexual harassment to which the Banda team of Khabar Lahariya, a collective of women journalists in Uttar Pradesh, were subjected to for many months. (September 2015)

Freedom of Expression
Expressing outrage at the attempt to intimidate and silence publisher Indranil Roy and editor Krishna Prasad of Outlook magazine and award-winning independent writer Neha Dixit for an important investigation into the trafficking of young girls from Assam to Gujarat and Punjab. (August 2016)
Terming online abuse of women journalists as a threat to press freedom and gender equality, the NWMI said that the growing phenomenon not only amounts to gender-specific hate speech but also represents an increasingly common form of gender violence and a disturbing threat to freedom of the press. (May 2016)
The network has also made submissions on certain important media matters – including safety of journalists in general and women journalists in particular – to the Press Council of India, a self-regulatory body meant to preserve and protect journalistic ethics and standards in the print media.

Promoting a Gender Perspective
Members of the Mumbai network have been involved in practical efforts such as discussions in newsrooms to improve media coverage of issues such as sexual violence and to encourage the incorporation of a gender perspective into coverage of all events and issues.
A blog examining media coverage of elections from the gender point of view was launched during the general elections of 2014.
A book, Missing Half the Story: Journalism as if Gender Matters (Zubaan 2010), edited by Kalpana Sharma, with chapters by network members Ammu Joseph, Rajashri Dasgupta, Sameera Khan and Laxmi Murthy, besides Kalpana Sharma.

Mobilising Freelance Journalists
Creating an online database of media outlets which commission independent journalists, with contacts of editors, standard rates and tips on how to pitch stories.
Working towards a Charter for the Rights of Independent Journalists.

NWMI fellowship for women journalists
NWMI has instituted a fellowship for women journalists. Young women from Adivasi, Dalit and minority communities face immense hardships in trying to be journalists. Many new entrants to the profession do not have access to professional training or mentoring, and several such struggling journalists are even denied the bylines that could help build up their body of work. Yet, we know they represent a pool of immense talent and commitment to journalism that could bloom, given a little encouragement.

The NWMI Fellowship seeks to support such deserving women journalists as an act of professional solidarity. The fellowship amount is raised through voluntary contributions from members of the NWMI.

The NWMI is still very much a work in progress. Since it is a collective endeavour – informal, decentralised and non-hierarchical, with no office-bearers or funds – its evolution and potential impact depends on the participation and contribution of everyone involved. The network strives to fulfil a wide variety of concerns, needs and interests – both personal and professional – as it evolves into an organisation that serves the interests of its members, at one level, and promotes ethics, responsibility and social consciousness within the media, at another.

Reports of state network programmes can be found  at Network-News and national meet reports are available on on http://nwmindia.org/about-us/national-meet-news

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:58

Our Story

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Members at the first NWMI national workshop in New DelhiThe NWMI was born on January 30, 2002 at the end of a three-day national workshop on / for Indian women in journalism held at the India International Centre, New Delhi. Approximately 100 women journalists participated in the workshop, including approximately 60 from 16 places in 14 states. Among the participants were journalists working in at least a dozen languages.

Organised by Voices, a Bangalore-based development communications NGO, with inputs from women journalists across the country and support from Unesco, the national workshop took place at the end of a network-building process that began more than a year earlier.

The process was sparked off by a series of three regional workshops held in 2000-2001 (two supported by the World Association for Christian Communication and one by the Freedom Forum) that enabled women journalists from different parts of India to gather together to discuss issues of common concern and to explore the possibility of building professional networks at the local, state, regional and national levels.

The first of these workshops, held in Bangalore in November 2000, brought together 40 participants representing five states and six languages from the south and west of the country. The second one, held in Jaipur in April 2001, had the participation of 50 women journalists from seven states in northern and eastern India, working in six languages. The third workshop, held in Shillong in September 2001, brought together about 20 women from seven states in the east and northeast regions, working in five languages.

There was broad consensus among workshop participants on the need for multi-layered, informal networks of women journalists that could serve multiple purposes, both professional and societal. Apart from the obvious purpose of providing a forum for addressing issues related to the workplace, it was felt that such networks could facilitate career advancement through training and professional enrichment programmes, as well as mentoring.

In addition, participants suggested that platforms of this kind could help highlight ethical issues related to the media, as well as the vital role of the media in society, especially in a democratic and diverse country like India. The network-building process was catalysed by the book,Women in Journalism: Making News (Ammu Joseph, The Media Foundation / Konark Publishers, New Delhi, 2000).

The need to follow up on the issues raised by women journalists during interviews for the book, and the perceptible desire for some form of professional association among a wide range of female mediapersons, comprised the initial motivation for and primary objective of the workshops. In the wake of the regional workshops, women journalists began getting together at the local and, in some cases, state levels to address common issues and interests and to take forward the process of network-building. In places where such groups were already in existence, the process provided the possibility of establishing links with mediawomen in other parts of the country.

The national workshop enabled participants to share their experiences and discuss the proposed national network. The national workshop enabled participants to share these experiences and discuss the proposed national network. At the end of three days of spirited and, often, heated debate, decisions were taken that obviously had the concurrence of most, if not all, the participants. It was decided that the NWMI would strive to function as an informal, non-hierarchical organisation linked up with independent local collectives through coordinators (one for each centre where local groups exist, with the understanding that more centres and coordinators would join in due course) and a core group of five persons representing the five regions (northeast, east, south, west and north).

This arrangement would be reviewed periodically and further decisions on the structure, mode of functioning, etc., would be based on the experiences of the interim period. Groups in different centres would determine their own agendas on the basis of the local context, priorities and needs.

At present, the NWMI has coordinators or representatives in the following places:  Delhi, Gujarat, Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala,  Manipur, Meghalaya,  Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal, 

It was also decided that the network would work with existing professional bodies, where possible and necessary, to fulfil the above aims and objectives.

More about the first national workshop for women in journalism

Update on the NWMI (2002-2007)

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 14:10

Charter

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At a monthly NWMI meeting in Mumbai.

The National Workshop on Women in Journalism held in New Delhi (January 28-30, 2002) brought together more than 100 women journalists from 16 centres across the country.

The following issues of concern were identified:

  • Globalisation has adversely impacted issues of social and gender justice.
  • In conjunction with increased commercialisation of the media, this has enhanced job insecurity.
  • It has also reduced space in the mainstream media for social and developmental issues.
  • We note with great concern that rights and benefits gained by journalists through painstaking and long struggles have been snatched away by this process.
  • Though the number of women in the media across the country has increased, their working conditions have in many instances actually deteriorated.
  • In addition, women face varying forms of harassment and exploitation.
  • We note with particular concern the change in labour laws, the shift towards contractual employment and the overall shrinkage of employment benefits,including maternity benefits.
  • The condition of regional language journalists and those in the small and independent press is of particular concern in this regard. 
  • We are also perturbed that the Working Journalists Act 1955 has not yet been amended to cover employees of the electronic and other new media.
  • The decline in accountability and responsibility of media organisations towards their workforce and towards society in general is another area of concern.
  • We believe that standards of professional ethics and behaviour have taken a beating, particularly in the last decade. This has eroded the credibility of the media, which has an important role to play as the Fourth Estate.

Given these concerns, we believe that there is urgent need for building solidarities and alliances among journalists and other democratic groups and fora. Our Network of Women in Media, India is a crucial step in this direction. Some of the steps we believe should be urgently taken are:

  • Media organisations must incorporate gender justice and equity in all organisational policies.
  • All benefits and employment rights of women journalists must be protected.
  • The Supreme Court directive on sexual harassment (a.k.a. the Vishakha case) must be implemented by media organisations.
  • Media should increase and improve coverage of gender and developmental issues.
  • Media organisations and journalists should evolve and observe appropriate codes of ethics that are sensitive to gender and other critical issues.
  • Organisations that protect the rights of media workers and institutions that uphold the independence and integrity of the media must be strengthened.

(Drafted by a team of volunteers, endorsed by all participants and presented at the valedictory function on the last day of the national workshop on / for women in journalism, Delhi, January 2002)

 

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 15:33

Membership

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minaThe Network of Women in Media, India is an inclusive forum which welcomes women working in or on the media (media professionals / practitioners, students and / or researchers) as members, in India and abroad. Some parts of this site are open to the general public; others only to registered users and members of the network. 

Mediawomen wanting to learn about membership to the network should email editors@nwmindia.org .

The Network of Women in Media, India, a forum for women media professionals from across the country, seeks to support promising women journalists working in challenging situations, remote areas or conflict zones, often without regular pay or proper equipment. Young women from Adivasi, Dalit and minority communities face immense hardships while trying to be journalists. Many new entrants to the profession do not have access to professional training or mentoring, and several such struggling journalists are even denied the bylines that could help build up their body of work. Yet, we know they represent a pool of immense talent and commitment to journalism that could bloom, given a little encouragement.
Monday, 12 February 2018 22:08

The Second NWMI Fellowship for Women Journalists

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Results to be announced on March 31
Thursday, 06 April 2017 17:58

NWMI fellowship for women journalists

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A new NWMI initiative for promising women journalists