Media are in the business of providing information. Women and men read watch and listen to this information daily which is in the shape of what we know as news. The media do not merely represent; they also recreate themselves and their vision of the world as desirable, saleable. What they reproduce is chosen, not random, not neutral, not without consequence. The media’s focus on the current issues and events of the day and the collection and editing of this information for presentation through the news media – newspapers, television and radio – is the practice of journalism. News is a choice, and extraction process, saying that one event is more meaningful than another event. The very act of saying that means making judgements that are based on values and based on frames.
The media do this by providing information that is collected and edited based on the media guiding principles of accuracy, fairness and balanced representation. The media also see their key role in any society as a “watchdog” of the government and all entities to ensure accountability in a society in the public interest. The media’s ability to carry out this role depends greatly on whether the media operate within political and legal environments which enable free speech, reasonably unfettered access to information, free media, and economic and political environments which encourage and promote the development of a diversity of media.
The media now constitute a central and powerful force in societies across the world, and certainly in India. They are increasingly playing the roles once played by family, community, religion and formal education: not only disseminating information and knowledge, but also shaping values and norms, moulding attitudes and behaviour and influencing the very process of living.
The present study is an attempt to study the regional Odia language media (Newspapers, Radio and Television) and gauge the portrayal and coverage of women and men as news subjects; presence of women and men news subjects by story topic; occupations of women and men news subjects; and news and gender stereotypes.