Keeping track of what media's saying via African software
By FN for APCNews
GOA, INDIA, 05 March 2007
The South Africa-based Media Monitoring Project (MMP) has developed the first version of a software application which will eveluate gender-sensitivity in online media.
This would help make information on the media’s performance on gender issues available and accessible to advocate for change. The embedded quantitative research methodology is a combination of best-practice media monitoring, drawn from MMP’s and other organisations’ experience.
The software, available in English (and to be soon translated into Portuguese), is available in southern Africa for free. Although the software can be used in other countries, a small alteration to the database is necessary.
How it works
"The software called the ‘Monitoring Made Easy: Gender’ is one of the most exciting monitoring event of our times. Possibly more exciting than the MMP’s most earthshaking reports, it means that most organisations will be able to monitor the media for gender issues for themselves," the organisation announces on its website.
The Monitoring Made Easy (MME) tool promises to produce almost instant results on media monitoring. Integrated queries produce graphics and descriptions "at the touch of a button". Results that can be immediately generated include who speaks in the story, and who tells the story. One can analyse and challenge media coverage of gender, as well as evaluate the impact of an organisation’s media campaign.
The software is browser-based, offers online support and off-site backup capabilities. In the future, the software will come in a stand-alone version, which will make it easier to install. It will also be expanded into different topics, for more in-depth monitoring. Beyond gender, this piece of software, will soon be access on the MMP website, is expected to be encompass issues such as media freedom, HIV/AIDS and children rights.
Monitoring Made Easy project coordinator Sandra Roberts says: "I wondered if APC readers would be interested in this software, or whether there is some other way we can cooperate. Of course, we would like to also use the GEM (Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs) for evaluation of our own project."
Where it can be used to make a splash
The Media Monitoring Project started in 1993, just in time to monitor the media coverage of the first democratic elections held in South Africa. At that time, it was felt that the media, after years of apartheid propaganda, could not fairly cover election issues.
"We have monitored every election since then and will shortly be releasing the latest South African election report. We also monitor the media for a range of human rights issues. For instance, we found in South Africa that one out of every ten stories on child abuse identify victims," Sandra Roberts told APCNews. MMP also regularly monitors for issues related to gender, race relations and xenophobia, as well as HIV/AIDS.
"The best way you can track human rights issues in the media is by noting media contents everyday. And there are a number of issues you can monitor for," she added.
This project monitors the South African media. But their methodologies are used in various countries. "We did the analysis of all the data for the Global Media monitoring Project, for instance," says Roberts.
They have also designed the methodology for a media action plan on HIV and AIDS (Southern African project) .
In addition, the MMP was involved in the initial establishment of the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe, as well as the Media Monitoring Team in Rwanda.
"Media monitoring is relevant to all countries, both those with advanced and less advanced media sectors. It is particularly important to monitor the media for human rights issues," insists Roberts.