It seems incredible to think that less than 40-odd years ago journalism and the Australian media industry were purely boys only games. Women were rarely seen as journalists or media personalities, except of course for the weather girl on the nightly news.
In 1972, Queen of the Australian media industry, Ita Buttrose, revolutionised female journalism forever with a new Women’s magazine, Cleo. Finally, women in the Australian media were getting some opportunities and recognition, and it’s a relief to see how far we’ve come since. Or have we not gone anywhere?
Earlier this week ex-Sydney Morning Herald editor Amanda Wilson wrote an article on the Guardian’s website that seemed to express how every female in the media industry feels. Wilson became the first (and only) woman to hold the position of Editor-In-Chief in the paper’s 180-year history. She spent less than two years at the helm of the paper – between early 2011 and 2012 – before graciously stepping down due to pressures from her bosses.
Unsurprisingly, when she was at the top job she faced numerous threats and instances of casual to extreme sexism from those she was employed by and those she employed.
The article received praise from all over the internet, including Mamamia founder Mia Freedman:
News Editor of The Guardian Australia, Lee Glendinning:
— Lee Glendinning (@lee_glend) May 19, 2014
Even Amnesty International Scotland had their praise to give to Wilson:
— Amnesty Scotland (@AmnestyScotland) May 21, 2014
In the last week, executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, and editor-in-chief of the French title Le Monde, Natalie Nougayrède, were both forced out of their jobs because of misogynistic accusations of authoritarianism and being “too bossy”. These are typical excuses for employees of female bosses who supposedly give them a difficult time, probably just as difficult as a male boss would in that position.
Clearly, this is an issue on the minds of many females in the industry. Last week senior lecturer at UTS and feminist activist, Jenna Price, wrote a piece on The Conversation about the changing gender politics in the newsroom. Ex-Philadelphia Inquirer editor, Amanda Bennett, wrote an article about on Jill Abramson’s dismissal on The Washington Post’s website.
But it’s Wilson’s words that seem to summarise the true hopes and aspirations for female journalists in the future:
“Women in media understand how to tell stories about and for women… seeing the names and faces of women in the media day in and day out, their words quoted, their achievements noted, their opinions sought.”