“To Girlie Hell With You”

IN but a few days time, on the 24thOctober 2008, the “Women in the Media” conference will be held in Hove. The agenda behind this seminar is to highlight and support the work of women in the media sector. The event is set to attract central female figures from all corners of the industry; from the web, music, film, television and even cyber gaming.

In today’s society, the most influential journalism is hard hitting, bona fide newscast. Whether critique, editorial, feature articles, news coverage of local or national magnitude, the media is a competitive market. It seems, this is a tough career for a man in a man’s world, but what are the possibilities for a woman in a male dominated profession?

Pauline McCart, 51, is the owner of The Wee County News; local press for the region of Alloa; “I don’t think journalism is a predominantly male profession anymore, it’s difficult to say because all of my team excluding our sports editor are women. We have always had to fight for equality, in every profession. At the end of the day you get what you put out, whether male or female. Women work as hard as men, and they’re beginning to get the same kind of credit. But when I started writing at the age of seventeen, I had to push, push, push my work to get editors to notice me. I still think it’s a tough market for a woman to break. Twenty years ago it was even tougher, because women weren’t as esteemed even as employed individuals. This isn’t necessarily applicable to journalism in today’s world though. It makes the fight worthwhile to see your name printed under an article you’ve poured your heart into. I would never change the way my success has come to me, but yes, I suppose I was discriminated against when I started out, particularly by male editors.”

Journalism is primarily a symptom of expression. But if journalists are the 4th power, a filter must be invoked in order to differentiate between opinion or prejudice ranting and dispersal of solid newsworthy fact. Negative stereotyping of women in the media as either showgirls or bitter professionals has hindered girls’ aspirations and provoked preconceptions about a woman’s capabilities as a serious reporter.

For example, when Kirsty Gallagher, a young, broadcaster (who also happens to be devastatingly beautiful) began working as editorial assistant for Sky Sports, overnight she became an international sex symbol. She posed on the cover of February’s FHM, and regularly appears in “Britain’s Sexiest Women” polls. She isn’t at all recognised for her presenting talents. Being taken as a serious journalist, seemed out of the question, because she was an attractive woman, presenting a sports channel; and thus sexualised by Sky Sport’s predominantly male consumers.

Web experts place blame the mainstream media, which has focused on a primarily male group of bloggers who write about Iraq, the Economic Crisis and the American Election. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, for example, is one of the most frequently cited warbloggers, and his articles are heavily slanted toward men. (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/)However, on other sites, such as Sweden based blogosphere, Media CULPA, released 2008 statistics suggesting that of their essayist army are female (76.2% vs. 23.8%.)

It appears that if a woman isn’t a fearless war correspondent, an inquisitive hack, or an intellectual broadcaster for ITN, it’s into girlie hell with you. So what happens to our little Cosmopolitan neophytes who do not wish to enter into hard news? Pauline suggests it’s not about gender, it’s about determination;

“I have had a lot of connections with some girls who now work for various women’s magazines, some of which have written for me, or with me, writing for other newspapers covering both local and national stories. It’s an interest thing, a great writer is a passionate one, and it’s easy to tell when someone isn’t interested in what they’re writing about, more so if they are. But if a girl, or a male for that matter, wants to enter into lifestyle or fashion journalism, this is not to be sneered at. It’s as prolific and highly consumed as “serious” coverage. There is actually more money to be made in editorial work the majority of the time, because of its commercial nature.”

In a world of infinite possibility, whether fashion or war correspondence, local reporting or editorial journalism, it seems there is a window and a place for each and every writer out there. Writing is about passion, creativity, and that insatiable thirst that makes each journo who he… or she is.