Tag Archives: journalism

It’s all about balls

5 Jan

Ball pond

I have a dream.  I have a dream that one day no article about women and their careers will need to mention their beauty regime or their wardrobe. Today I clicked on a feature about a well-known woman in the media industry hoping for some nuggets of her wisdom.  Indeed there were some, but I also came away knowing about her shoe preferences and skincare. Granted, in her particular field (fashion magazines) looking good is a sadly unavoidable factor. What bothers me is that in articles about women their appearance so often becomes part of defining their success.  It’s hardly furthering the cause.

It isn’t the details of a person’s personal life encroaching on their professional life that grates. Successful people are created by who they are and not just by what they achieve at work. It is interesting to learn that someone runs 20km to work or spends their spare time writing poetry. These things maketh the (wo)man. What becomes annoying is the unnecessary detail, the detail that doesn’t contribute to an understanding of why an individual has achieved what they have.

I read an article last year about easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall – only the third female boss of a FTSE-100 company – that I wish I’d saved, so refreshing was its approach. It made me hopeful about the portrayal of women in the media. Not once did it mention her appearance. There was no talk of her home life. She was defined neither by her looks nor by whether she had kids. Other than the startling fact about how few women feature in the FTSE, she was written about neutrally – not as a man or a woman but as a business person. In fact, the treatment that men normally receive.

The piece about Carolyn McCall proved that it can be done – that a woman can be portrayed as simply being damned good at her job with not one ounce of that success being attributed to (or at least mentioned alongside) how she looks. We don’t need to know where she shops, whether she waxes or which member of One Direction she prefers. It may seem remarkable to some, but having balls isn’t just the preserve of men.

It’s Vine Time

16 Mar

Midday on Radio 2 and it’s time for the Jeremy Vine show. Those of you with too much time on your hands will have seen my recent Facebook updates and anticipated that a Vine blog post was brewing.  My posts are normally inspired by something that raises my temperature a little and Jeremy Vine (or the format of his show at least) does this on a daily basis without fail.

The format is described on the BBC website as “Jeremy Vine and guests discuss the news headlines and talk to the people making them”. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, the stories are even (on occasion) interesting. The BBC site then goes on to say: “Jeremy loves music. But he’s also a journalist. There aren’t that many shows that do music and news. In fact there’s only one.” Thank the lord for that. And there’s the nub of what I object to – the juxtaposition of ‘serious news’ (Japan earthquake/tsunami) and banal local news (today – whether it’s right to pick daffodils in parks) and jolly pop songs. Hold on folks, we’ll have to leave our Japan correspondent now as here comes some Sister Sledge … Is it just me or is this just plain silliness?

For those who think Jeremy doesn’t do enough damage on his own, the show is not short of ‘experts’ seeking airtime to make their point (as quickly as they can before the intro to Billy Jean takes over). Oh but really Jeremy, drafting in the Daily Mail science correspondent does not add to your show’s credibility in any way. What tipped me over the edge today was a pre-recorded snippet from an expert we all associate with hard-hitting news and serious journalism – Madonna. If I want to hear serious news and great music I listen to Jeremy Vine blah blah blah. Thanks Madge, there’s a Pulitzer on the way.

Jeremy Kyle – sorry Vine – is a serious journalist having presented Newsnight and been a political correspondent at Westminster. Okay, so there’s no harm in wanting to branch out and seek the attention of the broader public but as a clever man can he not see how pop-peppered news leaves it devoid of any seriousness?

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