What is Women’s Views On News?
Women’s Views On News (www.womensviewsonnews.org) is a daily online women’s news service set up to counter the bias towards men in the news. Research shows that women feature in only about a fifth of the world’s news headlines and just ten percent of all news stories.
Literally thousands of stories about, by and for women are therefore never told. Our mission is to give a voice to the women whose stories and experiences of the world are all too often ignored.
Operating on a not for profit basis by a collective of volunteer journalists, it provides up to date news on all the major national and international stories of the day, in much the same way as any newspaper or online news service, but from the perspective of women. We also publish the occasional feature or opinion piece, but the emphasis of the site is news.
It currently operates as a social enterprise, but the ultimate aim is to attract paid-for advertising once we have reached audience numbers that would entice advertisers and marketers.
Who are we?
We are a group of eight UK-based women journalists with differing levels of journalistic experience. We have never met in person, and work from different locations all over the UK.
I am the founder of the site and have been working as a freelance editor and journalist for the last ten years or so, mainly about issues to do with discrimination law and gender equality. I have written for the law and features pages of most of the mainstream UK papers including the Independent, Guardian and the Times, as well as a number of magazines such as the Law Society Gazette, The Lawyer and The Nursing Times.
What do we do and how do we do it?
As a collective of volunteers, we work on a rota basis, making sure that we post news stories about women onto the site every day of the week from Monday to Friday (with the long-term aim of extending that to seven days a week).
We post on average between five and ten news stories per day. At present, we source our stories from an extensive list (which volunteers are given) of online national and international daily press sources, press agencies, voluntary organisations and blogs.
The “duty” volunteer searches the sites on the list, looking for stories about women (we generally go for political stories and steer clear of ones about celebrities). The volunteer then writes a short description of each news story that she (or he) has decided to post onto the site and then links it to the original source. This is where some skill in news writing is required as we encourage our volunteers to rewrite the original intro and, if they feel so inclined, to add their own slant/comment to it. It is also much more interesting and far more fun than just do a cut and paste job.
What do we ask of volunteers?
We ask that the volunteer agrees to join the rota (which I draw up and e-mail out once a fortnight) which involves posting up as many stories as possible (preferably at least five but ideally many more) once a fortnight. If the person is unable to do that day for whatever reason, we just ask that she (or he) lets us know in advance so that we have time to find someone else to take that slot.
What skills do volunteers need?
Volunteers just really need enthusiasm and an interest in news and women’s issues. The ideal candidate would also have:
- Knowledge and experience (or at least an interest) in news writing
- Research experience
- IT skills
- Knowledge of the web
- Ability to work remotely
- Ability to work on own
- Knowledge of social media to help with marketing
What can we offer volunteers?
We realise that as we are asking for an unpaid commitment from our volunteers, we want to give something back.
We therefore offer would-be journalists the following:
- The chance to learn about news and headline writing
- The chance to learn how to write in a “journalistic” style
- The chance to learn about sub editing and writing to house style
- The chance to learn how to commission articles and pitch ideas
- The chance to have their features/opinion pieces edited, critiqued and posted onto the site
- The chance to improve their IT and research skills
- The chance to learn about marketing and the use of social media