IWD 2019: Women in the media missing at the top


Gender audit of major newspapers in Nigeria by Journalists for Christ (JFC) International Outreach in commemoration of the 2019 International Women’s Day confirms that only very few women occupy top editorial positions in the country.

JFC calls for conscious efforts to redress the imbalance and give more women the opportunity to be involved in major editorial making process in media organisations.

The crucial role of women in any human endeavour cannot be overemphasized. Women, like men, have requisite skills and the capacity to perform most, if not all tasks.

However, as in many professions, women in the media don’t get to occupy top management positions in the industry compared with their male counterparts.  Reportage of women in the media is also generally low.

The above trend is one of the justifications for the campaign theme of the 2019 International Women’s Day celebration which is #Balanceforbetter.

If the media is to truly play its role of informing, educating and entertaining its audience, it will be necessary for women journalists to have equitable representation in the management of the various media organisations.

To be sure of what the true situation is in the Nigerian media, especially the print and online media, Journalists for Christ International Outreach conducted a gender audit of the top editorial positions in major media outlets in the country.

The positions which are crucial to determining the content of the media organisations include that of the Managing Director/General Manager, Chairman Editorial Board, Daily, Saturday, Sunday and Online editors.

The media houses audited for this report are:

S/N Newspaper MD/GM Chairman Editorial Board DailyEditor SaturdayEditor SundayEditor OnlineEditor
1. The Punch Male Male Male Female Male Male
2. The Nation Male Male Male Male Male Male
3. Vanguard Male Male Male Male Male Male
4. ThisDay Male Male Male Male Male Male
5. Tribune Male Male Male Male Male Male
6. Leadership Male Male Male Male Male Male
7. Guardian Male Male Male Female Male Male
8. The Sun Male Male Male Male Male Male
9. Daily Trust Male Male Male Male Male Male
10. Business Day Male Male Male Male Male Male
11. New Telegraph Female Male Male Male Female Male
12. Daily Independent Male Male Male Male Male Male

Of the 12 newspapers audited, only one, the New Telegraph newspaper has a female currently occupying the position of the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief. She is Funke Egbemode, incumbent, President of the Guild of Editor who had earlier being Sunday Editor of The Sun and Saturday Editor of Independent

For the Chairmanship/Head of the Editorial Boards, there is no female representation currently through a female had served in that capacity at the Sun newspaper.

Although the immediate past Daily Editor of ThisDay newspaper was a female, currently, all the 12 newspapers audited have male Daily editors.

In the Saturday and Sunday categories, The Punch and The Guardian have  female Saturday editors (Bisi Deji Folutile and Nike Sotade respectively)  and New Telegraph female Sunday Editor (Juliet Bumah)

Leadership newspaper also presently has a female editor for its Friday edition. It is the only paper that has a separate editor for its Friday paper.

The immediate past Sunday Editor of The Punch was, however, a female (Toyosi Ogunseye), who is now head of BBC West Africa, while Saturday Vanguard was also edited by a female, Chioma Gabriel as Editor, Special Features until she was redeployed.

Our audit also revealed that all the 12 newspapers audited have male Online editors. The immediate past Online Editor of Sun Newspapers was a female.

Based on our findings, there are very few women making major editorial decisions in print media houses in Nigeria. Although most media managers claim there is no gender consideration in appointments of top editorial staff, women don’t seem to be favoured like their male colleagues based on how many of them make it to the top.

A situation where all the editors of most newspapers are male is an obvious imbalance in the editorial decision-making process which needs to be addressed in line with the #Balanceforbetter theme of the IWD.

While acknowledging the challenges women must cope with to balance their work and family considerations which is not the case with men, Coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism,( WSCIJ)  Motunrayo Alaka said the imbalance will continue to exist as long as media managers are not conscious of it.

“What is required is intentional efforts by media managers to be sensitive to this imbalance and address it. Considerations must be made to support women on the job because of their particular circumstances which should not count against them.

“If media managements want capable women for the top positions, they will find, but as long as they don’t acknowledge the imbalance as a problem, the top will continue to be dominated by men and this is not good enough,” Alaka stated in response to the findings of our audit.

The Centre led by Alaka in 2014 launched a Report Women programme to increase the quality and quantum of reports about women in Nigeria. It also designed the Female Reporters’ Leadership Programme (FRLP) with a pilot fellowship in 2017 to address the poor ration of women in leadership in newsrooms across the country.

Apart from the women presently holding top editorial posts, there have been some others before including Dr Doyin Abiola, former Managing Director of the defunct National Concord Newspapers, Amah Ogan, former Editor of Sunday Guardian, Late Bilikisu Yusuf former Editor, New Nigeria, Sunday Triumph and Citizen Magazine, Dupe Ajayi, former Editor of Sunday Times, Angela Agoawike, former Editor, National Interest on Saturday and Member, Editorial Board/ Editor, Saturday Times and Rose Moses, Editor of Saturday Champion.

We urge the audited newspapers and other media organisations in Nigeria to accept the challenge of having more women in top editorial positions in the spirit of #Balanceforbetter.


About Journalists for Christ International Outreach

Journalists for Christ International Outreach is a faith-based media Non-Governmental Organisation committed to promoting ethical practice in the media.

We are committed to the development of Christian Communication and the media in general in Nigeria and globally.

Office: 14 Fadare Street, end of Kayode Street, off Ijaye Road, Ogba, Lagos

Telephone: +234 8023000621

Website: www.journalistsforchrist.org

Email: info@journalistsforchrist.org

President: Lekan Otufodunrin