Why you need to hear less from me, and more from them

There are essentially two reasons I am a journalist, and this blog is a major part of one of them – one is because I love to write.

The other, and the major reason behind the blog, is that on occasion I come up with an idea or an argument that deserves an airing.

Unlike most people (except other columnists, of course), I am mostly lacking in humility, so when I do come up with something I am utterly convinced that it is unique, and should be shared.

Now that, per se, is not a problem. The Internet is large, vast and mostly blissfully ignorant of my existence.

The problem is that there are many others like me. And the ones who are most visible and well-known are virtually all men.

This question was posed on Twitter today  – it asks how we can change the fact that the majority of voices commenting on business in Ireland are male.

If only it were that simple.

The position of women in journalism seems to be limited to “women’s issues”- health, fashion, gossip magazines for other women and the like. This story is not just an Irish phenomenon either.

It also goes entirely against experience. Many of the most outstanding journalists working in Ireland- be they in politics, business or sport – are women.

Of course, women are just as capable of dropping journalistic clangers as their male counterparts (the despicable “Magda” article in the Indo was authored by one Norma Costello, of whom thankfully little is heard nowadays), but these seem to be few and far between.

So if their work is of such a high standard, why do we see so few successes?

The reason is because the positions of power are still held by men.

Owners, editors, producers – most, if not all, of the juiciest jobs in media and journalism are still held by men.

Of those that aren’t, you’ll often find the girls that have beaten the boys at their own game to the hot seat – often with reputations as hard-hearted ball-breaking bitches because of it.

Which is why, when it comes down to a choice between guys and girls, the boys still get the call.

We know the rules.

We laugh at the tit jokes.

We apparently don’t cry or have hormones.

At the root of this nonsensical charade is fear – it is as if, by letting women into the VIP area of the party, we are somehow risking or cheapening what we do.

We aren’t.

In fact, journalism would be a better place for having more women involved – and not because of all the happy-clappy bullshit about how they offer a “softer” perspective, either.

The perspective women offer is not “softer”. Nor is it “harder”. It is just different.

And that perspective represents some 50% of the readership/viewership that’s out there.

But until that viewership and readership are represented on the boards and the production teams and the newsdesks, we aren’t likely to see any meaningful change.

Which is a shame. A democratic, pluralistic media should be all about offering people opinions from all corners of the debate, and not just those that chime in with our own.

So I doubt I’ll be the only one who’ll be glad to hear less of me, and more of them, and if in the future I wind up out of a job or losing a column because a woman gets it, so be it.

Because it will ultimately be because I wasn’t good enough – and that should be all that matters.

Not who wears the pants.

This article is dedicated to Ireland’s Women On Air group, who do great work in promoting the female voice in Irish media- something that, in other jurisdictions, be referred “hostile environment training”. =)


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