Stay up to date with New Naratif’s latest stories and upcoming events with our weekly newsletter. No spam, just good content.

* indicates required

Given the increasingly hostile climate for media workers in Southeast Asia, New Naratif’s Media Freedom Insights publications set out to better understand their lived experiences. Building on our past findings, we aim to platform the gendered experiences of newsmakers from across the region in order to understand the media ecosystem.

We set out from a position of wanting to effect change—for this reason, research means taking a political stance. Drawing from various scholars and being particularly keen to make space for homegrown knowledge, we plan to speak to at least 30 research participants about their experience through semi-structured interviews informed by five sub-themes pertaining to gender:

  1. systemic and structural factors;
  2. working lives;
  3. representations;
  4. education and journalism training; and
  5. digital transformations.

Following this, the interviews are analysed in-house before being further discussed in the form of community peer review sessions, through which we plan to not only verify and strengthen our analysis, but also to generate practical outcomes to support media workers and the goals of New Naratif’s Media Freedom Network. These take the form of focus group discussions to:

  1. review the preliminary analyses; and
  2. produce handbooks containing practical information and resources for regional newsmakers.

In this effort, we treat research as activism, in which the process is at least as important as the results. We also hope the outputs can be downloaded, disseminated, and used to generate outcomes varying from education to policy change.

Keywords: Media freedom, Southeast Asia, gender and sexuality, newsmaking, scholar-activism


Engendering Media Freedom:
Re-conceptualising Newsmaking in Southeast Asia
Media Freedom Insights Series 4 Publication No. 1

Publication Year 2023

Author Wai Liang Tham, with help from Thet Wai and Bonnibel Rambatan

Editors Dr. Thum Ping Tjin, Bonnibel Rambatan, Fadiyah Alaidrus, and New Naratif’s Research Department

Art Director Ellena Ekarahendy

Graphic Designer Mufqi Hutomo

Illustrator Erin Dwi Azmi

Funding The Media Freedom in Southeast Asia Research Project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, Grant No. 2020-08984.

Publisher New Naratif is a movement for democracy, freedom of information and freedom of expression in  Southeast Asia. We aim to make Southeast Asians proud of our region, our shared culture and our  shared history. We fight for the dignity and freedom of the Southeast Asian people by building a  community of people across the region to imagine and articulate a better Southeast Asia.

Media Freedom Insights is New Naratif’s collection of reports dedicated to the  fight for media freedom in Southeast Asia. The series takes an approach that centres media workers at  the heart of the region’s media landscape. The reports housed by the series cover a range of topics, from  the challenges faced by media workers in Southeast Asia, to their aspirations for a freer media space,  to potential pathways for collective action.

This research report, excluding its illustrations, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. To view a copy  of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

All illustrations are property of their respective illustrators.

Please cite this report as Tham, Wai Liang. 2022. “Engendering Media Freedom: Re-conceptualising Newsmaking in Southeast Asia.” Media Freedom Insights Series 4 Publication No. 1. New Naratif. 

Read more media freedom insight publications

Media Work as Resistance

A graphic summary of New Naratif’s study of media freedom in Southeast Asia, drawn from media workers’ experiences and challenges.

To stay updated on the latest New Naratif stories and events, sign up for our weekly newsletter:

Be part of the regional solidarity.

We are strongest when we work together. Collective action and care must be at the heart of our community. Thus, power and resources should be distributed rather than centralised, and exercised collectively rather than directed from the top down.