No voice should be unheard: become an expert in the media

Our database includes thought leaders, experts, activists, and community voices. Sounds like you? Join us now via the sign-up below. As intersectional feminists, our database is not just for women; it includes all people whose voices are overlooked in the media. Queer persons, people with disabilities, those who live in rural locations, or any other barriers you face – you’re welcome here.

  • Activist
  • Researcher
  • Community Leader
  • Business Owner
  • Farmer
  • Scientist
  • Teacher
  • Thought Leader

How it works

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Know the basics

When you sign up to our database and are approved, vetted journalists can find your profile, which includes your fields of expertise and contact details. Media practitioners writing stories on topics you can speak on can contact you for your perspective. Quote This Woman+ also amplifies experts around trending news topics. We have built systems that are designed to protect you while ensuring that the media have easy access to diverse sources.

We understand that sometimes talking to a journalist feels scary. However, journalists work on tight deadlines, and can’t wait long. If you were only to talk to them via email, it’s possible that by the time you reply, the journalist has used another expert or moved on to the next story. Journalists need sources who are easier to contact.

Contact us immediately – we will help you. If necessary, we will help you make a complaint at the relevant press council. In South Africa, we have a relationship with the National Press Council.

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Step 1 : Get Verified

Complete your bio with areas of expertise and contact details. We verify that you are who you say you are and approve you.

  • A max 200-word bio — written in plain English
  • Some keywords and phrases describing what you can talk to the media about
  • A list of languages you’d be comfortable being interviewed in
  • Optionally, a photograph of yourself (or logo of your organisation/project) and your social media links

We manually approve every person who joins the database so that we can ensure accurate information and that bios are written in a way that the media understands. This takes approximately 3-5 working days.

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Step 2 : Get contacted

When you’re on the database, media practitioners from Africa and the rest of the world can see your profile. If you can speak on something they’d like to report on, they will contact you through the contact details on your profile.

We offer comprehensive media training, so check that out. For now, here is a short list of tips:

  • Develop several short, topical quotes that cover the key issue you’ll be talking to the media about.
  • Use plain language and avoid jargon – it’s the best way to capture your audience’s attention and make your story interesting.
  • Offer to provide the journalist with additional resources (related data, pictures, graphics, useful links and reports).
  • Ask that your website and/or contact details be included wherever this could benefit you, and check that media practitioners know the correct relevant spellings, links, phone numbers, etc. It’s probably best not to assume that these details will be included in your article unless you do this. And if you don’t want some details published, clarify that beforehand.
  • It is safe to assume that nothing you say is “off the record”. If you don’t want to see your comments published, then don’t say them.
  • If you cannot comment on a particular situation, explain why; media practitioners will be much more sympathetic if they understand why you are withholding the information and when it will be available.
  • Try to anticipate negative themes and prepare answers.
  • Ask yourself: are you choosing language that will alienate the people who disagree with you? Could you use more empathy in the pursuit of changing minds and broadening world views?
  • Always ask the media practitioner what their deadline is to allow you enough time to respond appropriately if doing a written interview. Tip: You can always ask to do the interview via voice notes if you can’t find a time when you and the journalist are both free.

If you’re contacted for a spoken or video interview and would rather not do it, you’ll need to discuss that with the journalist. We suggest checking out our media training page or getting in touch if you’d like to learn how to prepare for any kind of interview.

Your responsibilities are to:

  • Tell the truth as you understand it.
  • Only offer information that you are sure is accurate.
  • Make clear to the journalist when you are offering an opinion rather than a fact.
  • Ensure that any information about your name, title and background is correct – spell them out.
  • Steer clear of criticising people in your field – you can discuss their work, but don’t make personal attacks.
If you cannot respond, let the media practitioner know as soon as possible so that they can contact another source. If possible, suggest somebody else that they could speak to instead of you (preferably another woman+).

FAQs

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Am I right for Quote This Woman+?

YES! All kinds of people whose perspectives currently do not make the news should be on the database. Especially people who feel that the issues they know about need to be better explained in the media. We don’t care if you’re a rural entrepreneur, a self taught business whizz, an activist or an academic.

There are no hard-and-fast rules. Different journalists and different types of media value different things. The kind of questions a journalist is likely to ask when looking for an expert source are “Why you?”, “Why now?”, and, “So what?”.
If you can answer these questions about a trending news item, you’re likely to be a valued source.
A quick whip around the web highlights the following points as far as what makes a good media expert:

  • Someone who has knowledge, authority and experience. They’ve done hands-on work in that field. Or they’ve conducted academic research into their specific knowledge area. 
  • Someone who reporters trust not to say exactly the same thing as everybody else.
  • Someone who thinks ahead of the story. By this we mean, this person points out the issues most journalists are overlooking. They ask the questions that journalists should be asking to get the missing perspective.
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How did we get here?

Only 1 in 5 people quoted in the media are women. QW+ has found two main reasons for this. That women do not step up and become sources; and that the media do not put effort into ensuring representation.

For many reasons, women generally do not position themselves as media experts. This results in them showing reluctance to pitch their work to media outlets. Some women believe they need significant extra training or education before the media will view them credibly. Many women underestimate the significance of their knowledge. QW+ believes women+ need to recognise that their voices have profound value. They are power tools to shape dialogue, raise awareness, and create change.

In the course of our work, we have not found a single newsroom that wasn’t aware of the gender gap in their sources. And, despite varying levels of unconscious bias, we haven’t found a single newsroom uninterested in addressing the problem. So why this gender bias in the news? Many newsrooms undercount their own source gender gap. When QW+ started in 2019, we approached media people and spoke to them about their sources. We found an imbalance between the number of women that newsmakers thought they used as sources, and the real numbers. But we came to learn that deciding who makes news is a complex juggling act that newsrooms need to make each day. They face budget cuts, staff cuts, and workloads that keep expanding as social media platforms change. For every news story, the pressure to get a snappy soundbite from an established expert is intense. Too often this means that reporters fall back on familiar sources, who usually are men.

When possible, our media training is free. Otherwise, our courses carry a fee based on a needs assessment. On request, we can deliver individual media training. We also have a needs-based bursary scheme.