The Executive Director of World’s Editors Forum, Cherilyn Ireton says even though women in the media are doing extremely well in the newsroom and other departments in media houses, very few make it to top positions.
Ireton, a South African journalist with more than 20 years experience in the media industry became the first women to be appointed to the lucrative position in January this year and is now based in Paris which is home to the head office of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-INFRA).
“I got this job because of my skills and capabilities and being a woman only became a bonus.
I also have no doubt that I will perform to the best of my abilities and that when I eventually leave WAN-INFRA I would have made a positive impact,” she said in the sidelines of the Women In News Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia from last Friday till Tuesday.
She said even though she was holding this top position, very few women seem to make it beyond middle management positions.
“It is a worrying trend which needs to be addressed because when men are gatekeepers only a few if any voices of women are heard,” she said.
She however said the biggest challenge faced by women in the media was striking a balance between their careers and social lives.
“Working hours in the media can be quite odd but even after spending those odd hours at work, they are still expected to play other roles like being a mother, wife or a partner.
But hard as it may I am urging fellow women to strike a balance so that no one party suffers because of the other,’’ she said.
Ireton who is 50, single and with no children says she sometimes regrets neglecting her social life while chasing her dream of making it in the media industry.
“I did well in my career but the same cannot be said of my social life. I regret a bit and I sometimes wish I had done things differently.
I am therefore urging other women to really strike a balance between their passion for the media despite the odd hours put in and their other sides of life,’’ she said.
Speaking of her role at WAN-INFRA, Ireton said her office is meant to connect editors from around the world, promote quality journalism, to ensure press freedom and to address some of the challenges faced by the media.
“Every year we hold the world editor’s forum where all these issues are addressed.
It is also a platform to share ideas on how to build and sustain successful media entities,” she said adding.
Meanwhile, one of the speakers at the summit Fred M’membe who is the Editor in Chief of The Post newspaper, which is Zambia’s biggest selling newspapers, also urged women to continue working hard and to ensure that they don’t neglect some of their societal roles.
“It might be a challenge but challenges are there so one can overcome them,” he said.
The WIN summit brought together more than 50 women in the media from Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
It was also attended by local coaches of WIN participants from the three respective countries as well two international coaches from Canada and Denmark.