Kholiwe charged with treason, Daily Times

Date: January 1, 1970
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This is a news article about the woman spokesperson of an opposition coalition in Malawi being charged with treason.

This article may be used to:
Demonstrate that gender aware reporting is not just about covering events about women but probing what they mean.  In most of our countries, there is some token coverage of events like International Women’s Day. But how often is it accompanied by meaningful analysis?
Training exercises
1)      Go out in pairs or small groups and conduct interviews with women workers in areas like construction and mining. What do they earn? What are their conditions of service?
2)      Read the article. What does it tell us about:
  • The conditions that women work under in the mining industry in ?
  • In what way are figures used to make the point?
  • How is language used to emphasise the point?
  • Is the image used effective? Why?
  • Is this story atypical of the kind of story you would expect to read on International Women’s Day? Why?
  • Would you regard this as good journalism? Why?

Trainer’s notes

General:  To the extent that there is coverage of “women’s issues” this tends to be more around special events like International Women’s Day (or in , Women’s Day on 9 August). Such days are often covered as events, rather than issues (speeches, marches, etc). They also tend to focus more on concerns like violence against women, than underlying issues, like the economic disempowerment of women. For these reasons, the article is a refreshing piece of journalism. The reporter goes out to interview a woman miner (’s wealth is built on mining) to see what Women’s Day means for her. The answer: very little.
Exercise one: The exercise is likely to reveal very similar findings to those in this story. Employers regard it a favour to employ women in back-breaking jobs that are traditionally a male preserve.
Exercise two: Use the article to draw out issues relating to content and more technical points like use of data, packaging and use of images. For example:
  • The article not only states monthly earnings, but also travel expenses, giving us the actual take home. Use of the statistics in the photo caption further highlights the point. It could have been elaborated further by pointing out that the earnings themselves are below the minimum wage, and this point could have been investigated further in the interview with the unions.
  • The language is graphic and compelling: eg, “The dust fills her nostrils, cakes her eyebrows, and hangs from her eyelashes, bestowing a deathly pallor on her hair. Asked what she wanted, Majola said simply: ‘Water.’”
  • The image is pertinent to the subject and the mask over her mouth almost symbolic: it gives the sense that she is gagged.
  • This is a good example of moving away from events to issues; giving them a human face; and of a journalist getting out of their armchair, avoiding the temptation of just reporting on speeches or interviewing experts. This can be used to make the point that gender aware reporting is also just good reporting.  
Other training resources
“Gender in Media Training: A Southern African Tool Kit” Chapter 11, Economic and Development Reporting”, contains several exercises and definitions that would be relevant for this discussion. An article that could be used in conjunction with this case study is Handout eleven (ADD) “Women Miners Toil for R12000: But pioneers who have broken into a man’s world are not complaining.” 

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