In 1972 when Caroline Jones became the first female head of 4 Corners, the headlines screamed: ‘Girl will take over 4 Corners’, and ‘Brains now, beauty next’.
It has taken half a century to develop a critical mass of women journalists to fundamentally change the media in Australia.
There is now an outstanding coterie of experienced, veteran, senior female journalists in mainstream media who have not only distinguished themselves but also changed the national debate.
First: youth, body shape and stereotypical doll-like appearance are no longer the essential job requirements for female journalists on most TV channels. Older female journalists are now much more visible. In fact, many of the best journalists in the country are women over 40.
Second: female journalists have brought women’s issues to the front and centre of national news. Without the vital role of female journalists, courageous women who were no longer prepared to remain silent about sexual abuse, would not have had their voices amplified. Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame and others would not have achieved the impact they had. The March4Justice would not have had the exposure and numbers they did. The serious allegations about Christian Porter would have faded away. The Prime Minister would not have had to scramble to prove to the media how women-friendly his Government is. Christine Holgate would not have had the coverage she had. And equal pay and representation would not receive the attention they do.
Oh, and female journalists are now called women and not girls.
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