Christian communication groups gets first female head

Karin Achtelstetter takes reins of WACC on Nov. 1

October 20, 2010

GENEVA

Soon after a study commissioned by the World Association of Christian Communication (WACC) found that men continue to hog the global news headlines, despite the growing presence of women, the group installed its first female executive head.

The Rev. Karin Achtelstetter, the former director of communications and editor-in-chief for the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation, was installed new general secretary of WACC in Toronto on Oct. 5, during an executive committee meeting.

WACC president, Dennis Smith — a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission worker in Central America — said, "We are proud that Rev. Karin is not only enormously qualified for the job, she is also the first woman to serve as the general secretary of our association."

Achtelstetter takes up full responsibility at the head of WACC on Nov. 1. She will succeed the Rev. Randy Naylor, a Canadian who has served WACC as general secretary since July 2001. He has been appointed minister for Parkwoods United Church in Toronto.

Citing South Africa’s “ubuntu” concept Achtelstetter said, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” She said in her new role she will be “shaped by the encounters, the exchanges and the relationships with the people in the many networks and projects to which WACC is related.”

Toronto-based WACC says it “promotes communication for social change.” It believes “communication is a basic human right that defines people’s common humanity, strengthens cultures, enables participation, creates community and challenges tyranny and oppression.”

Shortly before Achtelstetter’s installation, a media monitoring project coordinated by WACC reported that women are still significantly underrepresented and misrepresented in news media coverage.

“The Global Media Monitoring Project, conducted by WACC every five years has raised gender-awareness in all of our eight regions. It shows the importance of women’s presence in the media — in reporting and being reported,” Achtelstetter told ENInews. She noted that her election by the association’s regions “is directly related to its various gender-awareness related activities.”

Drawing on research in 108 countries, the media project found that 76 percent of the people heard or read about in the world’s news are male. It noted that the world seen in news media remains largely a male one, despite significant change since the project began 15 years ago.

The GMMP monitored 1,365 newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites, 17,795 news stories and 38,253 persons in the news in 108 countries, together covering  82 percent of the world’s people.

The report, “Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Project 2010,” was released in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, along with numerous regional and national reports.

It found that 24 percent of people in the news are female, compared to 17 percent in 1995. Another finding was that 44 percent of people providing popular opinion in news stories are female compared to 34 percent in 2005.

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