September 19, 2018

Zuzanna Ziomecka on how women can rewrite Europe’s narratives

Find out more about #Story18 speaker Zuzanna Ziomecka, founder and editor-in-chief of NewsMavens, a website where the news is chosen entirely by women.

Does the gender imbalance in newsrooms have an impact on the media narrative? How different would newspaper front pages look if media organizations had more diverse teams, and how would modern Europe be presented?

These are some of the questions Zuzanna Ziomecka, founder and editor-in-chief of NewsMavens, set out to answer when she launched the project in October 2017. Supported by the newspaper where she worked, Gazeta Wyborcza, and funded by the Google Digital News Initiative Fund, NewsMavens is a website where the news is chosen entirely by women. It aims to provide Europe with an alternative front page.

“If our media is mirroring our politics and is focused on the men with the power and the money on top, then they’re missing the entire picture that happens below, on the ground, where real-life people live and work,” Zuzanna tells Bayerischer Rundfunk.

NewsMavens started up as a collaboration between 12 European media outlets seeking to challenge.

“Our first months of publishing show that, on average, women journalists pay attention to issues that are beyond the field of vision of many decision-makers in mainstream news outlets,” she says in an interview with IJNet.

“Article recommendations for NewsMavens are full of non-frontpage news concerning the down-to-earth, daily struggles of ordinary people.”

For Zuzanna, the issue of diversity in the media is one piece of a large puzzle that could prove to be instrumental to the future of democracy in Europe.

She believes that women have the opportunity to play a big role as agents for change in the current political landscape.

As democracy has been disrupted in a number of countries, including Zuzanna’s Poland, she sees an opportunity for women to be a part of rewriting the direction Europe is heading in, and even to lead the charge.

“As changes happen, old rules and barriers, things that once seemed impossible and divisions that appeared set in stone suddenly start to move. You cannot stop change but you can use its momentum to influence and shape the future,” she explains in an article on NewsMavens and in a TEDx talk on how we should start seeing women and women’s movements as an engine for change.

“In Hungary, Turkey, and Poland, political bullies are already doing this. Using the migration crises and economic inequalities, populists have hijacked Europe’s youngest democracies. They have centralized power in single ruling parties and made their leaders legally untouchable. The same opportunity they have seized lies before us now.”

She points to management ideas born in start-ups, Iceland’s successful approach to ensuring gender equality, and initiatives from tech giants who have realized their mistakes and strive to correct them, as tools that can be used in an effort to rebuild Europe’s ‘disrupted power structure’.

But rebuilding starts with a clear understanding of the present situation, which we cannot have with stories that don’t show a variety of perspectives.

Zuzanna Ziomecka is speaking at the 8th edition of The Power of Storytelling. Register here to meet her and the other amazing speakers who will tackle this year’s theme: Rewrite.