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What people want in the news ... Namibia Gender and Media Audience study; Namibia's Gender and Media Audience study conducted by Genderlinks of South Africa in partnership with the Polytechnic of Namibia is the country's first comprehensive study on the news audience of Namibia.

The study looked at the patterns and preferences in the consumption of news of 180 people based in Windhoek, Ongwediva, and Rehoboth. Half of this number were women.

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Recently, the African Media Barometer Namibia Report was also launched in Windhoek by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia Chapter.

The difference between the two is that while the audience study concentrated on the receiver of news, the barometer concentrated on the giver of news (media).

More positive stories about women wanted

The main findings of the audience study were that television was the most important source of news for people living in the three urban centres; the Internet was ignored as a source of news; both men and women preferred shorter news items; and both agreed that the portrayal of women in the news was mainly negative--that women were most likely to feature in the news as victims, models or beauty contestants, as sex objects, or in the roles of health or home workers, whilst men featured as politicians, officials, business and sports personalities.

70 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men agreed that the news would be more interesting if the ideas and views of women were reported more often, and even bigger majorities wanted to see stories about women doing a wider range of things.

Challenging stereotypes

Women and men also want to see men in non-traditional roles: as parents, caregivers and home-makers. Interestingly, both woman and men said that they felt uncomfortable viewing sexual images of women, with many finding them "insulting', thus challenging the widely held view that such images sell the news.

Transforming the public broadcaster

On the other hand, the media barometer showed that the audience in Namibia was free to listen and respond to various issues raised by the media. However, problems arose with the media itself because it was perceived that the main broadcaster, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was not serving the public interest.

"MISA Namibia continues to press for our public broadcaster to be transformed from a government department, with ministerially appointed board members, into a flourishing, creative, enthusiastic broadcaster that involves the public of Namibia at all levels of decision-making," said MISA Namibia Chairperson Robin Tyson when he launched the report in November 2005.

Who is monitoring the media?

Speaking at the same occasion, MISA Namibia Director Matthew Haikali pointed out that evaluation and monitoring structures of the media were weak in Namibia. "It is therefore even difficult to ensure that issues of gender, for example, are adequately catered for in the news."
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Title Annotation:GENDER AND MEDIA
Author:Mwondela, Chilombo
Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:429
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