Thursday, 19 June 2014

Stop the presses! Breaking news from the female frontline

As a woman (I know, I’ve checked), one who cut her professional teeth in the world of reporting and still holds great affection for the field, I absolutely have to get something off my chest.

This is not a journalist.

This is a model with a microphone. She appears on TV – but that does not make her a journalist.

Being drop-dead gorgeous – thank heavens – not one of the ‘must haves’ when considering a career in news gathering and reporting. Being relatively presentable can’t hurt, but it’s not a prerequisite.

Most female reporters I have had the pleasure of meeting, or working with, are at least part-slob – and they wouldn’t know a spray tan or a silicon implant if someone slapped it down on the newsdesk in front of them.

But, in these days of superficial TV reporting served up with the pace and depth of your average McDonald’s Happy Meal, it seems that many folk have developed a very skewed idea of what journalism is. Including some of those with aspirations to enter the profession.

It’s much more than the ability to hold a microphone and look pretty as you film those ‘noddies’ to be edited into that interview. It’s more than pressing Copy/Paste and Publish on a blog. It’s not just regurgitating news releases, word for word. And it has nothing to do with your cup size of come hither look.

It’s about being curious, wanting to dig beyond the press release, asking awkward questions, daring to go to some of the places your mother urged you never to venture and putting together concise, complete and informative copy in time for your deadline.

Your dress size is irrelevant – not so your IQ.

Believe me, when you’re facing a 9am deadline for a nugget of important local news gleaned from droning hours of the world’s most boring council committee meeting that dragged on until 11pm the night before, the last thing you’re thinking about are push-up bras, eyeliner and hair straighteners.  On some days, your count yourself lucky to find a semi-ironed shirt and had time to clean teeth before dashing into the newsroom or off in pursuit of some story.

Looking good is not a requirement for the profession. Sure, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s only human to WANT to be attractive – but that’s a matter of human nature and something entirely unrelated to what it takes to be a reporter.

The simple truth is that whilst there are some jaw-droppingly beautiful female journalists out there, most are simply…  ordinary.
Nothing wrong about that, surely? (Actually, it’s sometimes a huge asset!)

So just to set the record straight, here are a few examples of what real female journalists look like.

The clue is in the word – headlines. They come from the head first, sometimes from the heart, but rarely from a plunging neckline or buttock-grazing hemline.

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