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Listen to the youth

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Chante Schatz
August21/ 2017

“Women in the media are not the only ones with limitations enforced on them”

Traditional media is not doing a good job of catering to young people, especially women and marginalised youth, so there is a need for the youth to create their own platforms.
These were the issues covered at the Duke Menell Media Exchange conference on August 11, by a panel discussing the coverage of youth issues.

The discussion was led by Zola Brunner (24), a content producer for eNCA youth show BackChat. Also on the panel were eNCA news writer Miyashni Pillay (24), digital editor of Yomzansi
Magazine Nyakallo Tefu (24), and Alex FM Breakfast host Sia Leita, who was the only male on the panel. The discussion got heated after Leita asked the question: “How easy is it to navigate in the media industry as a woman?”

“There should be solidarity among women to challenge gender-based powers in the
newsroom.”

The panel talked about sexist practices in the journalism industry. Female audience members shared their experiences of being overshadowed in newsrooms. Leita said, as an example, that
his female breakfast show co-host has never been given the opportunity to run the show on her own during his absence. However, one female audience member warned that women should not succumb to the victim mentality. They should rise above the challenges they face, she said.

Another panelist, Pillay, said that women should stand together in the workplace to displace stereotypes. “There should be solidarity among women to challenge gender-based powers in the
newsroom.” Despite the stereotypes, the time for women in the media to succeed is better than ever and the opportunities are there, said one female audience member . “Being Black and female is [a monetised fad for employers], but I feel like it is your prime. Make your spot and excel and actually make something of yourself,” she said. “So the narrative must stop that we are less than the other (men) and that we need help, and that we are victimised. We need to start feeling empowered because that is what we are. The time is ripe and we are here,” she said.

Women in the media are not the only ones with limitations enforced on them: those who are non-gender conforming often feel left out of the conversation. Some members of Activate Radio said that the media perpetuates a single narrative by not telling another side of a story and sometimes social media is to blame. “As a queer man, I would not be comfortable having a straight
(heterosexual) telling my story,” said an audience member. In response, another male audience member suggested that, “We shouldn’t rely on others but create our own platform, and commit to our own projects. Young people need to create their own platforms where they can write their own voices in the media.”

Adding to that, Brunner said: “We can’t only be looking at what’s the major trending tweet because not everyone is on social media.” Instead, Brunner believes that hyperlocal stories should be what trends. “The best thing is to go on the ground and get those stories. Take those stories you develop on the ground and post them on Twitter and let that be the trending story,” she said

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Chante Schatz