Journalism and its Effects on Warring Regions
Technological advancements and innovations have had a significant effect on the media industry. Space satellites and the internet have played a revolutionary role that has overcome spatial differences in terms of information sharing and management. Presently, the world has been transformed into a global community made possible by the regional integration that is majorly fuelled by trade and economic activities. International relations have been established to foster global peace that is needed for health development. With the ability to relay real-time information, media houses have been enabled wider coverage areas in terms of news anchorage and reporting. In this initial part of the discussion, we shall review the effects that news reporting sessions covering warring areas have on women from the affected community.
How does the reporting of global events, especially war and conflict, influence our perception about the world around us and in particular the women in that community?
The reporting of global events in today’s society is covered in audio, audio-visual and print media. News is mainly covered by television channels, radios, newspapers and the internet and hence they play a significant role on the perception that individuals will have concerning global issues. Even within the domestic environment, the bulk of the news is channeled through the media while the events that may be accounted as first-hand tend to amount to a negligible fraction. Journalists also have access to top government officials and are therefore in a good position to report state affairs to citizens and the viewers on a global scale. The immunity and security that journalists are accorded allows them to interact with dangerous areas like warring nations. It is therefore evident that most individuals view world events literally through a reporter’s eyes. More to reporting, the media also possesses the influence to generate news which is made possible by the power of choice. Various news items are covered on a daily basis yet the media has the ability to decide which item need to be aired and in at what part of the bulletin (Thussu & Freedman, 2003).
Upon the decision of which news items need to be aired, the time allocated per item is determined, the images to be released to accompany the story and the mode of reporting is also determined. Personal biases and opinions therefore pose significant influences on reporting decisions and this consequently affects the viewers. It is from this decision that the top story is created and given most priority in news coverage. Therefore, when a given event is not reported in the media, it becomes inexistent to viewers. The media flourishes in conflicts and therefore this wars and crimes tend to be covered as the top stories in news channels. Audiences are captivated by war or conflict stories and the media is well aware of this fact. The greater the conflict story tends to be, the larger the audience and consequently the profits that accrue to the media. Due to this, the media tends to report the conflict in a manner that amplifies the real situation to make it more appealing to the audience. Long-term conflict is therefore preferred to those that are in the process of resolution.
Women are often used in war clips and pictures to amplify the images and audience appeal that is created by conflict or war stories. Women being considered as the weaker sex tend to impart higher psychological impacts on the viewer associated with their inability to defend themselves. In warring regions, women and girls are often covered in the media as rape victims and sexual prisoners to elucidate the violence that occurs in such affected regions. Other photos will indicate women as being plagued by hunger and mistreatment as they cradle their crying young ones; a sight that is emotionally packed to incite the viewer. In yet other clips, pregnant women are used to explore the suffering that they have to put up with. Through this, the media is able to create a vibrant atmosphere in a situation that requires human apologetics in a way that creates a balance in both situations (Bouta et al., 2005).
How do the media present the “other” in terms of war and conflict?
Countries that are in the midst of war or conflict tend to be given the highest priority in news reports with the highest time or space for coverage accorded top such stories. With the question of morality, the media knows that most people tend to lean towards conflict resolution and they will therefore cover some of the news regarding the conflict resolution side. This is often aired after the conflict has been covered and secondary importance is accorded to it. In actuality, wars that have existed for a long time are preferred over conflict news that is currently undergoing a level of negotiations.
Looking at coverage from any recent conflict, cite at least 2 examples of poor media coverage and 2 examples of good media coverage dealing with women and war.
In the recent war in Iraq, there have been noted cases of bias along racial lines in the coverage of abduction in relation to women. This is an example of the missing white woman syndrome. Another instance would be the coverage of women’s role on the Congo conflict, where women efforts to secure ceasefire and ultimate peace are not publicized as those of their male counterparts. Regardless of the noted limitation, the media coverage of the plight of women in the Congo war has been covered well and extensively. In fact, there have several allegations of exaggeration, to grasp the attention of the international community towards the plight of women and children in the war. A commendable example in media coverage is seen in the publicity given to soldier abuse on women civilians in Iraq, which has led disciplinary actions on the perpetrators, which is a good example of journalism practices in the field of media coverage.
How can journalists combat the practice of incomplete or biased reporting in this fast paced news world?
Media biasness refers to a situation where reporters and the other key players in the media industry infuse elements of favoritism in terms of news coverage and reporting. This situation leads to instances of incomplete reporting, which is unfair to the viewers who rely mainly on the media for information acquisition. To combat this practice, journalists have to comply with the rules that govern the mode of news reporting. This is directed by the 5 W’s that seek to address the questions of what the news involves, who made the information known to the media, where did the given event occur, when did the event occur, what reasons are accorded to the happening (why) and how did the event occur. With this framework, the reporter is able to give complete information concerning the given event. It also aids to stay with an objectively-oriented mindset that will help the reporter to keep from personal biasness. It always aids to remember that the main purpose of journalism is to elucidate the event and avert any form of conflict; not to magnify the situation (Martin & Tirman, 2009).
War and its Effects on Women: The Congo Conflict
The Democratic Republic of Congo was involved in a civil war that lasted for five years, from 1998-2003. At least five million and four hundred thousand individuals have died since the war broke out, with the monthly death level reaching to forty-five thousand individuals. This death figure has been a combination of post-war hostility, food shortages and illnesses aggravated by the conflict. The Congo conflict was the outcome of power and political dissensions in the country. The bulk of women that were affected in the conflict were rape victims who amount to tens of thousands (Lauria, 2010).
Research and discuss what happened to the women in that country after the war or conflict was over.
With the war having ended in 2005, a research was carried in the year 2006 to review the class of Congolese women in the post-war period. The report indicated that women in Congo are still experiencing rape instances and other brutal experiences, all being pegged from the war period. The eastern part of Congo on a global scale is ranked as the leading region for rape cases in terms of the number of women that are affected. The concentration and cruelty of the rape cases is the worst ever recorded. During the war, women were raped to death and those who survived were carried along as prisoners and used as sex slaves (Advameg, 2010). The level of abuse in the prisoner camps was very brutal such that upon the end of the war, the majority of the women prisoners committed murder while the rest that made it to health centers often died. This inhuman treatment continues to date and it has transformed the mind set of local individuals into viewing these forms of dehumanizing treatment as being ordinary. Women therefore still suffer from rape instances in Congo. With the security issue, women have adopted nomadic lifestyles where they have to move and hide under the cover of darkness for fear of attacks. The most affected areas are North Kivu and South Kivu, all located in the eastern part of Congo. Current studies conducted in 2010 have confirmed that rape cases are on the rise, with Congo male residents involved in rape increasing by seventeen percent.
What are the roles of the women in that society today?
Women in Congo still play the roles of mothers and wives with very minimal levels of freedom. The mistreatment depends on the race and environment that the woman dwells in. Women living in the rural areas have higher freedom levels that those in urban regions. As mothers, these women are expected to be homemakers as well as breadwinners for the sake of the family. The men also assist in monetary aspects and women have to learn that they are subordinate to their husbands. Women in their young ages are coerced into the marriage institution while those who decide to live in singlehood in the urban regions as career women are often branded as harlots despite their careers. In their capacity as good wives, Congo women are expected to be submissive to their husbands by reporting how they have spent their day and money (Vlassenroot & Raeymaekers, 2004). These unfair systems have been instituted to ensure that women are oppressed of male dominion.
How are they dealing with the economics and politics of the area?
Politics and economic duties are considered as male occupations. Women are sidelined in political activities with only a few managing to thrive in the political ambitions. Since girls are given a secondary consideration in terms of education, only a few of then make it into learning institutions. The few educated women are able to attain better jobs in higher learning institutions, law firms, medical practices and governmental agencies. However, these women are often paid lower wages than their male correspondents. The law also plays a role in the biased treatment accorded to Congolese women. It is a legal requirement that wives should acquire their husbands consent before venturing into trade activities, possession of bank accounts, and before they accept white collar jobs. In terms of own businesses, the husband has a right to his spouse’s property as codified by the law. Woman living in the rural areas tend to indulge in farming practices and other handcrafts for earnings. This inequitable treatment has forced woman into secrecy while conducting their economic dealings for the sake of property protection from the males.
Are they more or less involved in the community/social structures?
Most of the women are involved within community structures that are established by women organizations and other women concern groups. Most of these organizations however lack the ability to address the issues that arise and plague the women in a societal setting. A few agricultural extension services have been instituted to aid the rural womenfolk in the advancement of farming activities. Most of the women are also reluctant to join these women organizations for fear of retaliation from their husbands and the fact that although they are requested to get more involved in the roles of the organization, it becomes difficult to balance between homecare, breadwinning and the new roles. Hence, most of them tend to give up on the women organization groups as they are not given compensation to cover the opportunity cost associated with their daily roles. This serves as the biggest limitation in the advancement of the woman groups in Congo. However, these woman organizations have managed to stage a few protests towards women oppression and succeeded in airing their concerns to the relevant authorities (Martin & Tirman, 2009).
What changes have they made for their communities?
Women that have had educational knowledge have been able to advance their talents and knowledge in career development that has proved to be both satisfactory in terms of career management and monetary gain. This is breeding up a group of women well verse with the oppressive nature of woman treatment and with their careers they are at a suitable position to aid others. Most of these women are also using their salaries to fend for their children, and especially the girl child who has been alienated in most needs such as education. The increment of resources caused by working woman has been an effectual channel against poverty eradication.
Were they or are they now involved in any of the peace negotiations for their community?
The women of Congo cannot be defined as being involved in communal peace negotiations. They only play an indirect role of peace enhancement that can only be analyzed in terms of the individual efforts that they input in the community. By living in a culture that is dominated by male chauvinism, women have been oppressed for a long time and yet the political and legal system lacks the answer to their problem. It is a requirement that woman be submissive to their husbands and the male fraternity as a whole. This is indicated by the roles that women are required to play in their families as wives and mothers. By relenting to these unfair systems, they prevent any form of household conflicts from arising and this leads to peace in the household level. Therefore, when peace is fostered in the entire community having accrued from these individual households, then we can see the indirect role that the women have played in peace enforcement. However, this system will continue to oppress woman unless the culture is changed.
Advameg, Inc. “Countries and Their Cultures: Democratic Republic of the Congo”. 2010. Web. 2010.
Bouta, Tsjeard, Frerks, Georg, & Bannon, Ian. Gender, conflict, and development. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2005. Print.
Lauria, Joe. “Congo Rapes Spotlight New ‘Conflict Minerals’ Law”. womensenews.org, 9 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 Sept. 2010.
Martin, Forbes, & Tirman, John. Women, Migration, and Conflict: Breaking a Deadly Cycle. Independence: Cengage, 2009. Print.
Thussu, Kishan, & Freedman, Des. War and the media: reporting conflict 24/7. Newbury Park: SAGE, 2003. Print.
Vlassenroot, Koen, & Raeymaekers, Timothy. Conflict and social transformation in Eastern DR Congo. Belgium: Academia Press, 2004. Print.