Mizo Women and Media
Today’s world is ruled by the Media.
The media in its various forms such as the print, visual and the new media is now access by each and every person. The Media, which was earlier merely a reporting device, is today a vibrant means of shaping, moulding and influencing public opinion. Even though we keep on talking about the power of media, the media needs the brain and works of man for its function and development.
Any kind of work and job today now is not classified in terms of gender. What was considered as a kind of job only for man in the past is now no more accepted. We see and experienced that woman is too involved in all kinds of job. But in the Media world it is experienced that woman involvement in less in numbers.
According to Beasley (1993), there is still need for increasing the representation and participation of females in media. And in this regard, addition of more females to hard beats and editorial positions would be a first positive step in the development of opportunities for women in journalism.
This study is an attempt to highlight the participation of women in the media and the coverage of women’s issues and related news in the media. The study is based on theoretical study and also field survey, interview and discussions.
Media in Mizoram
Along with the rest of the world, Mizoram a small state in the Northeast is also moving forward in the media world. Mizoram with a population of 1,091,014 as per census data 2011 has the second highest literacy rate in India, which comes to 91.58%. It is believed that media both in print and electronic contributed for its growth.
Since media provide entertainment and information to its audiences it creates an enthusiasm in a person to become literate to understand wells. (Mizoram Census 2011). The emergence of print media in Mizoram is traced back to the late 1890s. Today there are more than 100 daily newspapers.
The highest number of daily newspaper publication is from the capital Aizawl. The other seven (7) districts have their own daily newspaper published by their own which is distributed only within their district jurisdiction. Each district has around five (5) to eight (8) daily newspapers.
In terms of electronic media, Mizoram is equipped with government owned media Doordarshan Kendra known as Aizawl station and All India Radio Aizawl station which is also having FM station known as “FM Zoawi”. The cable operators in the State act as a production house as well, they give out their own channels and programmes apart from star channels.
Before there were three main cable operators in the capital Aizawl, and after the first cable operator Skylinks was shut down in 2007, now 2 main cable operator LPS and Zonet serve as the main supplier not only for the capital Aizawl but also for other districts.
Their programmes are sent through video CDs and today direct cable wire and satellite connection is as well available. (Lalruatkimi, Irene 2016: Electronic Media in Mizoram: An Interpretative Study of Its Development, Unpublished Thesis)
The media industry in Mizoram is very well established and stronger comparing to other north-eastern states. Every part of the media functions well and provides adequate information and entertainment to the audiences. The media industry in Mizoram keeps growing day by day. As per the population of the states in India there are no states other than Mizoram where media industry is stronger and well established (Vanneihtluanga, 2013).
Women participation in Media
The Press Institute of India in 2004 claimed that the number of females in media, mostly in important positions and decision making posts in newspapers, radio, TV, film and even in advertising, is negligible. A study by Murthy and Anita (2009), “Working Media Women” deliberates on the working condition and job satisfaction of female journalists in India. The study was based on three cities: Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam and Vijayawala.
This survey included three mass communication media, newspaper, television and radio networks. The study found that 145 women are working as journalist in these three organisations. The numbers of female journalists was small, considering that the survey was conducted in the major cities like Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam and Vijayawala.
Another survey conducted by media Studies Group shows that the number of female journalists in media organisation at the district level is as low as 2.7 per cent (Mohammad, 2012).
The Global Report on the status of Women in the News Media, 17 Indian news companies participated where ten were from newspapers, six television stations and one radio stations. In this report, Byerly (2011) writes that in India all the participating companies (in the study) together employ approximately 30,000 employees, of which 2,405 are female journalists and 10,518 are male journalists. This is the ratio of 4:1 as men outnumber women in these companies.
In Mizoram state, the presence and well-organized functioning of Mizoram Journalist Association (MJA) may be attributed to the progress of journalism. Since its inception from the year 1972 till today the association runs smoothly and contributes a lot in the various achievements of the state. The Mizoram Journalist Association (MJA) has it’s headquarter at the capital Aizawl, where the highest numbers of the members and office bearers are registered.
Then, the other 7 districts and also Hnahthial town have its own branches. The number of members is shown in the figure below:
It is seen that the participation of women in the media is very less. Only five percent (5%) of females are into working journalism. The Mizoram Journalist Association (MJA) includes all people who work not only in print but in electronic media as well. With the state progressing in media both in print and electronic the number of female participation is still very low.
The study has shown that out of the 10 female journalists, none of them have a background degree in Journalism or Mass Communication. Among them only four (4) took up journalism as it their own interest and really wanted to be a part of the Mizoram journalism and communication. Six (6) of them have to take it up as they have no other choices. The head of the family, the father or the husband passed away and so have to continue it as it is the family business.
Women and their position in media
Females are often assigned less serious duties and given pages concerned with cooking or interviewing film stars and flamboyant personalities. (Gupta, 1997). The key reason is that journalism is predominantly a man’s world (Gallagher, 2002). It is found from various studies that in the hierarchy of media organisations involvement of females as journalists/reporters are not clearly visible.
According to Pandey and Charu (2012) the position of women at home and at work and also their status in society is an index of civilization where they are considered as equal partners in the process of development. But exploited and subjugated for centuries, women have remained at the receiving end.
In the case of Mizoram, the study shows that the few women who are involved in the media are not at all in the decision making important post. In case of electronic media, none of the females’ employees are officially registered as journalist. Their main job is anchoring.
Women specific news, columns and magazine
Kaur and Thapar (2015) in their study Media Portrayal of women highlights that out of the total coverage on women issues in media both in print and electronic, the maximum news reporting relates to violence against women. Such news items are sensationalised to get more readerships. Women are visible on the first page only if they are politicians, victims of rape, murder, if they commit suicide or if there is a case of domestic violence.
Besides this, stories on glamour and sex can never be missed out on the last pages.
Today the media both in print and electronic is witnessing an increasing concern with women-centred issues. But the women and their concerns are not only misrepresented and underrepresented in media where it consistently follow traditional stereotypical patterns and are very often derogatory.
The study has found out that in the state of Mizoram, by and large our present media scene does not address serious women’s issues at all. The daily newspapers do not have women’s issue or news as headline. Among the big daily newspaper in the state, only one of them “Zozam Times” got a regular women’s related column.
In case of magazine, Women’s specific magazine does not exist at all as of now. Women organisation like the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), an NGO runs by the Mizo women have their monthly magazine like “Runlum” and different denomination of the churches have their own church women wing and published monthly in their name a newsletter like Agape, Loisi, etc.
Women and Media as of now
The study done with the passed out four batches of Master Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication Department, Mizoram University, the following points highlighted can be consider as the condition of women and media as of now in the state.
1. It is an unwritten truth that Politics and Media are considered only as man’s job and interest in Mizo society.
2. Mizoram Media houses are open to both male and female with journalism degree but female are more assigned to anchoring than technical or other post.
3. Married females are not entertained much
Communication is extremely important for women’s development and mass media play significant role. It is to be noted that growth of women’s education and their entry into employment has contributed to the growth of media. In all spheres of life whether for controlling population growth, spread of literacy or improving quality of life for vast masses, women have crucial role to play.
However, women can be expected to play this role when they become conscious of their strength and are not deliberately marginalised by male domination. In this context, media has an important role to play – to create awakening in women to achieve their potential as the prime movers of change in society. In today’s world, print and electronic media play a vital role in effectively conveying message that needs to be conveyed. (Justice JN Ray, 2008)
With the establishment of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Mizoram University and also a branch of Indian Institute of Mass Communication on the university campus offering a Post Graduate Diploma in English Journalism, it is a vision and a believe that more and more women will get a professional degree in Journalism and will make more entry in the media houses of the state.
- Information & Public Relations Department (2012) Mizoram, I & PR, Government of Mizoram.
- Kaur Dippanjeet & Thapar Dr. Sheetal (2015) Media Potrayal of women. Communication Today, Vol.17, No.3
- Keval J Kumar (2005) Mass Communication in India. New Delhi. Jaico.
- Lalruatkimi Irene (2016) Electronic Media in Mizoram; An Interpretative Study of Its Development. Unpublished Thesis, Assam University.
- Mizoram Census Data (2011). Government of Mizoram.
- Murthy DVR & Padmaja S (2010) Culture and Impact of television serials perceptions of television viewers. Media Watch 1(2)
- Nigam Dr. Neha (2015) Female Journalist vs Media Industry: A fight Against Discrimination. Communication Today, Vol.17, No.4
- Sangkima (1992) Mizos: Society and Social Change, Spectrum Publications, New Delhi.
- Sharma A (2010) Portrayal of women in mass media. Media Watch (online available)
- Thakur BS and Binod C Agarwal (2004) Media Utilization for the development of women and children, Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi.
[Dr. Irene Lalruatkimi, Associate Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Mizoram University, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published in the historical book ‘175 years of Media in Assam and Beyond‘, published by Mahabahu on the occasion of 175 years of Media in Assam]
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