Flix Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 05:30

The experiences of women journalists in Karnataka have rarely been recorded in any form, but a limited view is to be found in an essay written by Swayamprabha and published by the government of Karnataka in a book brought out during the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held in Hassan last year. (Find a copy of a shortened version of the original essay below.) An indication of the status of women journalists in the Kannada media is to be found in the fact that the author has not published the essay under her own name. She is one of the few women journalists to have entered the profession in the 2000, and remained in the profession. She has also worked in different parts of the state. In the essay, written in Kannada, the author talks about the difficulties women journalists face in the profession, which could be mitigated by employers. This article is based on her views presented in the essay. She begins the essay by talking about what has now come to be known as the Mangalore Homestay Attack. In July 2012, a group of Hindutva activists had assaulted young men and women who celebrating the birthday of one of their friends. When the incident happened, the author says as usual, there were different angles to cover – the incident itself, the crime, speaking to the victims, as also obtaining the responses of well-known people. when she was speaking to writer Vaidehi, the latter was very critical of the incident. Some minutes after the phone conversation, Vaidehi called back and asked: “Why don’t you ask men what they think about other men doing things like this?” This got her thinking, and led her to say in the essay that girls are always treated differently and are kept isolated, which continues into adulthood. Even when it comes to the media on the question of women, they too set aside special programmes, pages or supplements to discuss women’s issues, as if their contents are only for women. The end result, is that women get more information out of these supplements when the content is of good quality, but it does nothing to change men’s attitudes towards women’s difficulties. Narrating from her conversations with other women journalists, she says that a post-graduate who was applying for a job in various media bureaus in Mangaluru in the aftermath of the Homestay Attack was unsuccessful. They was simply no vacancy for a woman journalist because the general attitude was that women could not work late hours. In a city like Bangalore media houses have a facility to drop employees on night shifts but there is no such facility in smaller cities and women employees have to look after themselves. Even women women from rural areas or smaller cities work in large cities, they can afford to survive in the media only if they have certain facilities such as having their own vehicles. Office meetings need not be conducted late at night after the day’s work, they can easily be held at an earlier time, she writes. She also says that if it is a late assignment, women journalists should be allowed to file the story from home, instead of sticking to the earlier convention of filing the story after going to the office. Two years ago, a Kannada daily in Mangaluru had an unstated policy of not recruiting women. Only recently did a woman journalist join the newspaper, ending the two-year unstated moratorium on women’s recruitment. Speaking to The News Minute, Swayamprabha said that the newspaper should have had done something about it. “How can a newspaper not have women in its staff in a large bureau when 50 percent of the people it covers are women?,” she says. Swayamprabha said that if there are any women journalists in top positions in the Kannada media today, they are the few who have stuck it out despite all odds. Read a shortened form of the original essay below. Women journalists in Karnataka  

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