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USP Graduate To Present Gender Media Coverage In Fiji

USP Graduate To Present Gender Media Coverage In Fiji Elections Findings

By Sherita Sharma

SUVA (Wansolwara / Pacific Media Watch): A University of the South Pacific masters graduate in journalism will present her thesis findings at a major international education conference in Australia next week.

Shazia Usman, USP journalism’s first masters graduate in September, won an award to present at the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) conference in Melbourne from December 2-5.

“I'm very excited to be given the opportunity to present my findings to academics, scholars, and journalism practitioners, especially at an international level,” she says.

Usman’s thesis was entitled: Invisibility in the Media: A comparative analysis of the coverage given to female election candidates in the 1999 and 2006 elections by The Fiji Times and Fiji Sun.

A communications officer with the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), Usman came upon her thesis topic while on an internship with the FWRM during the 2006 elections. She witnessed the limited news coverage given to female election candidates in comparison to male counterparts.

Her research looked at both the quantitative and qualitative of coverage accorded to women, including media stereotyping of women.

“My aim is to show that there is an urgent need to change the practice of journalism in Fiji, especially when it comes political issues, and gender and human rights.”

Usman is a former editor of Wansolwara, USP journalism’s award-winning student training newspaper.

Deadline pressures
“It’s important to acknowledge that journalism practice is dictated by deadline pressures, the number of stories produced in a day, and availability of sources,” said Usman.

“So while we conduct research to show how journalism should ideally work and what’s lacking, the reality on the ground is different. But this should not stop us from advocating for better journalism.”

Usman’s thesis supervisor, Shailendra Singh, said her study was important. He said it was good to see USP students being invited to international conferences to share their research findings.

The JEAA consists of journalism educators, working professionals and students from Australia and the South Pacific committed to theimprovement of journalism education across the region.

Its annual conference provides a platform to discuss the realities and challenges of both the practice and the teaching of journalism in the 21st century.

This year’s conference theme at Monash University is Critical Times? Changing journalism in a changing world.

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