I’m not a big sports fan. I’d be hard pressed to name Australia’s top 10 sports people – male or female. I am, however, a very big fan of fairness, a commitment to equality, professionalism and good judgment – all qualities sorely lacking in the two bozos from the Daily Telegraph who thought it was oh so funny to name cricketer, Michael Clarke, Sportsman of the Year and Black Caviar – a racehorse – Sportswoman of the Year.
Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland are the two sexist oafs who conceived of the idea but one also has to ask, “Where were the gatekeepers?” Did no-one at the Daily Telegraph read this piece of neanderthal nonsense and think, “Hmmm, maybe that’s a really bad idea?”
In my recent article for the King’s Tribune I reveal that women are extremely poorly represented on the front pages of Australia’s leading newspapers. Drawing on research by media expert, Dr Louise North, of Monash University, I suggest that the blokey culture of Australian (and international) news rooms is a major obstacle to female journalists’ professional success. In turn, the lack of senior female reporters and editors means that newspaper reporting is often skewed to favour masculine perspectives – and not always in a good way.
The Daily Telegraph was one of the newspapers I studied over 10 business days. The results weren’t good. In 10 weekday issues of the Tele not one front page story was written by a female journalist. Further, seventy-eight per cent of the Daily Telegraph’s front page stories focused on male protagonists. On my ‘blokeyness index’ which took into account six key categories:
The Sydney Morning Herald achieved the highest score for ‘blokeyness’ with an average ‘male representation’ score of 82 per cent based on the six key indicators (see table). But it was a close race, with the Daily Telegraph scoring a whopping 80 per cent on the blokeyness barometer.
It’s very hard not to see this latest stunt as a symptom of the Tele’s blokey culture and apparent lack of female gatekeepers.
In an interview with the Women’s Weekly in July, Telegraph editor, Paul Whittaker, insisted that his paper was not failing its women readers. I’m sorry, Mr Whittaker but I beg to differ.
The idea that it’s okay to name a horse as Sportswoman of the Year is a prime example of a masculine perspective which is completely out of touch with contemporary values. It is particularly irksome considering the high profile public debate we have recently had about misogyny. Frankly, it is so gobsmackingly stupid it’s almost hard to believe.
And you don’t have to be a militant, hairy arm-pitted, bra-burning feminist to be offended by this schoolboy stunt. I mentioned it to two delightful 88 year old ladies this afternoon. They gasped in disbelief when I told them the story and, when I assured them it was true, they launched into a spirited tirade which included the words ‘outrageous’, ‘demeaning’ and ‘disgusting’. One of the octogenarians, my mother, shook her head and said, “The bastards!”
With newspaper readership on the wane, newspapers are increasingly aware that they need to capture the female demographic. This is not the way to do it, Mr Whittaker. The Daily Telegraph was the second worst of the eight newspapers I studied for my King’s Tribune article – all of which scored badly on the ‘blokeyness index’. Naming a horse as Sportswoman of the Year takes your newspaper to a new nadir.
In my view, the two ‘so-called’ journalists who conceived of this drivel should be stood down and so should the editors who let it go to print. Here’s a novel idea – why not fill the vacancies with women?
The Blokeyness Index: blokes win the gender war in Australia’s 4th Estate – Chrys Stevenson, King’s Tribune
Sportswoman of the Year? Really? – Wendy Harmer, The Hoopla