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United Methodist Women will monitor global media

1/25/2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

By Kelly Martini*

NEW YORK (UMNS) -- The world's media will come under scrutiny for a day in February, as groups in about 80 countries monitor the portrayal and representation of women in the news on television, radio and in newspapers.

At its October board meeting, the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries agreed be one of the monitoring organizations. It is urging the 1 million members of United Methodist Women to participate. The results of the project will be presented at the review of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in June, and will be published later in the year in print and on the Internet.

The Global Media Monitoring Project 2000 is the second of its kind. United Methodist Women members participated in the first, which was held in January 1995 and organized by MediaWatch Canada. It involved hundreds of volunteers in 71 countries contributing 49,000 data records. The project resulted in a report entitled "The Global Media Monitoring Project: Women's Participation in the News."

This second monitoring effort is being organized by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) in collaboration with Erin Research, MediaWatch Canada and media specialist Margaret Gallagher. It aims to assess changes that have occurred in half a decade. It will provide insight into the role of women in the media in the 21st century and in the context of the advancements made in media technology.

Five years ago, the first monitoring project revealed that while women accounted for 43 percent of journalists, they represented only 17 percent of interviewees, and 29 percent of those were victims of accidents, crime and similar events. In stories about politics and government, only 7 percent of interviewees were female.

"With this second global initiative, women will reveal how far the world's media have moved since 1995 towards reflecting diversity," said Gallagher, who has acted as a consultant to WACC throughout the process of organizing the 2000 project.

WACC is an international, ecumenical organization with some 800 corporate and personal members in 115 countries. Its main focus is to promote democratic structures of communication. The 2000 project's long-term objective is to create more gender-sensitive media that reflect the diverse roles of women in society. It also hopes to encourage media organizations to develop policies that would give women greater opportunity to influence media content.

United Methodists interested in participating in the project can contact Gloria Dharmaraj, the Women's Division's executive secretary for justice education, at (212) 682-3633 or by e-mail at gdharmar@gbgm-umc.org.

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*Martini is executive secretary for communications with the Women's Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.


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