Sexism at the BBC

There\’s an element of truth to the complaints:

Stephanie Flanders, the Newsnight presenter, has become the latest high-profile journalist to criticise the lack of women over 50 on television.

The Oxford and Harvard graduate, who is to replace Evan Davis as the BBC\’s economics editor, said it was wrong that female news presenters were dropped as soon as they hit a certain age.

I\’ve no doubt that women are treated differently as they age from the men they work alongside. However, I\’m also pretty certain that these same women are treated differently from the men they work alongside when young too. Whether this should be true or not a glance at your screen will show you that the women who are chosen to present are so chosen because of the way they look. We don\’t see incredibly bright and talented munts on our screens.

To complain that once the looks go one is disposed of, when it\’s the looks that got you there in the first place, just doesn\’t work, sorry.

6 thoughts on “Sexism at the BBC”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Perhaps the solution is to demand exams for the job of news reader. I am sure that a 50 year old would be as qualified to pass such an exam as an 19 year old. Of course the Labour Party and the BBC do not like exams do they?

    The only real question is what is the basic qualification of an autocue dolly but the ability to look good while reading what someone else has written for you? In very large type. If, as is obvious, there is nothing else involved, then the basic criteria for employment is to be able to look good while reading. At which the odd 19 year old blonde will be better than the usual 60 year old wrinkly. Don’t blame the BBC or the viewers for that basic fact. Take it up with God.

  2. Ah, Selina Scott.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it dearie. I remember, for example, “Scott Free”, a program of quite extraordinary tedium fronted by Selina Scott when she was eye candy.

    It was slated by everyone at the time, and the general opinion was she got it because of her looks, not because of talent. I don’t recall her then suggesting it should go to a talented 50 year old.

    Let us not forget, of course, this is the person who famously asked a Booker prize judge if she’d read the book …..

  3. A mate of mine in Singapore was going out with one of the main newsreaders of Channel News Asia, a Korean girl. She was superb at reading the news, but it was clear that she didn’t report it. She looked good on TV and sounded right. That’s all there was to it.

  4. Being the BBC Newsnight anchor is a lot harder than just reading an auto-cue.

    When I was on Newsnight being interviewed by Kirsty Wark (blushes modestly, and continues…) it was obvious that being a news anchor is actually very difficult indeed.

    The anchor has very little time to get to grips with a wide range of stories and guests, and during the programme is continually updating plans and tactics – often (via ear microphone) while actually engaged in an interview or chairing a discussion.

    To do the job without messing-up, the anchor needs to be as smart as Kirsty – as well as attractive. Not many people satisfy both criteria.

    But of course Tim is quite correct in his main point. Warren Farrell calls attractive young women ‘genetic celebrities’ since they live in a celeb-type world where everybody (well, all men anyway) are ‘nice’ to them – buy them drinks just for the privilege of exchanging a few words, policemen let them off speeding fines, clients give them huge tips, the pizza guy throws in a free diet coke unasked, etc. Farrell estimates that this amounts to thousands of dollars of freebies a year (sic!)

    Unfortunately, but maybe understandably, these natural aristocrats sometimes become bitter when their unearned advantages fade – as they inevitably do. We sympathize – but not much…

  5. At least looks are reasonably randomly distributed.
    It’s the nepotism of the meeja that grates. Second only to the stage, dwarling.

  6. I don’t know enough about female TV journalists in the UK, but here in the US we have Barbara Walters (78), Diane Sawyer (62), and quite a few in their 50’s such as Meredith Vieira and Katie Couric.

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