Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Dawn for Women Journalists at The Times

Following its revelatory front page story this morning about the Conservative Party not having enough women in front line positions - conveniently ignoring the fact that its new President is one Emma Pidding - I can exclusively reveal that the editor of The Times has ordered his own lobby team to get their own act in order. "Our Westminster lobby journalists represent the unacceptable face of male dominance," he wrote in an apology to the Equalities Minister Harriett Harman. "I am taking immediate action to redress the balance of the sexes," he vowed.

New Times political editor Philipa Webster expressed her delight at the decision, while her deputy, Francesca Elliott heralded it as a "new dawn for women journalists." Chief Political Correspondent Samantha Coates, dressed in white Versace, said "it's time for the 'lezzer lobby' (copyright Paul Routledge 1997) to come out of the closet". And in a stinging attack on her male colleagues, Chief Political Commentatress Petra Riddell exclaimed: "I don't half look good in high heels, don't I?"

Meanwhile Alan Thompson and Richard Sylvester are 94.


KillichThere said...

Have you read Toynbee's latest badly put together piece in the Guardian in defence of H.Harperson?Why is this woman revered?"Doyen of the Left" my arse.

Events dear boy, events said...

The media MSM are obviously scratching around for a story to knock the Tories as Labour is damaged beyond repair. Think back to how The Times once reported the news when it was truly the paper of record.

Philipa said...

What do you think Peter Hitchens, Simon Heffer, Max Hastings and Paul Dacre think of "the unacceptable face of male dominance" ?

Plato said...

Very amusing. What a complete non-story.

Thought it was a slow news week for politics but this is risible barrel scraping.

Bird said...

The Times has reverted to type this morning, with its trick photography and slanted reporting.
I suppose Philip Webster is still taking copy from Alaister Campbell.

davefromluton said...

Surely if we are in an age of equality it should be merit that decides who gets ahead.
The main reasons that there are not more women in the shadow cabinet are:-
1 that at the moment there are not many to choose from
2 the few that there are, are not very good.
Conversely Labour has many to choose from but again they are not very good.
What both lots seem to have in abundance are ladies with rather whiny voices and a tendency to patronise.

Anonymous said...

The blogosphere is also male dominated. I think Harridan Harperson should close it down

rayboy said...

Well, just as the "Blair Babes" have devalued serious government, these journalistas will drown us in "have you tried finding a good nanny" articles. As if there weren't enough already. Meritocracy is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

Great the Times is going to cull the amount of male journalists - maybe they will pay me to take my axe and chopping blck down to the HQ and they can do a full page spread.

The Male journalists can queue up to be given the Chop curtesy of moi! Though there would be no margin for error as a cock up would not be welcome!

Still if the Big Cheese in the Times thinks axing the little fellars will not damage the potency of the organ - I will swing into action!!!

Sunder Katwala said...

It is a perfectly legitimate story given what the leadership has said it is trying to do. If the Conservatives win, the parliamentary party looks set to be 15% female and 85% male. That is progress, but not enough. As a result, there would almost certainly less women in Parliament.

But those of us who think this matters will both praise Tory progress when it happens, and scrutinise theirs and all parties' records and try to do so in a fair way. I don't think Labour can be complacent about this either.

The hard fact is that, in each of the major three parties, when there is a new selection (ie no existing MP from that party), there is a one in four chance of a woman getting it and a three in four chance of a man. I don't think women are naturally less talented or less interested. Unless you want to argue for that, this is a systemic issue that needs more attention if you think there should be fair chances to be selected.

The prominence The Times gives this shows that this is no longer a liberal-left minority issue. We are talking about just over half of the population.

Iain Dale said...

Sunder, you raise some interesting points, but front page? Come on...

Simon Gardner said...

Perfectly legitimate big story. The Conservative party needs to hang its head in shame about the under representation of women.

And the party has largely resisted any attempts to do anything about it.

As have the Liberal Democrats - though they still don’t look anything like as unbalanced as the Tories.

Gareth said...

Why does there need to be more women in Parliament?

The gender of my MP is immaterial. I do not expect a doctor to be a man. I do not care if the Police, fire service, paramedics or council jobsworths are men.

We shouldn't get so hung up on public services mirroring the communities they serve - it will not automatically make them better. All we should be bothered about is whether or not they are competent.

Sally Roberts said...

The second picture in the Times piece was shockingly dishonest! They had deliberately chopped off half the platform, thereby obscuring the several women members of the Shadow Cabinet who were all wearing light-coloured clothing so that they would stand out from their dark-suited male colleagues.

Little Black Sambo said...

Gareth: hear, hear! It ought to be a non-subject.

Sunder Katwala said...

Its a fair point to question the front-page. But I think it is a more interesting and distinctive front-page than the flu epidemic, and I can't see a better lead story in the first 10 pages of The Times today. What would you have led with? (And I'm working at home so brought one at the shop, so perhaps they will sell more to Fabianistas! And the editorial projection may also be part of the paper's own attempt to appeal more to women itself no doubt, who are not a minority group).

I think it is a legitimate journalistic decision about impact: by projecting it, and giving it a spread and an editorial, The Times makes it a significant political talking point, and no doubt it will influence the leadership and the party debate. Putting it on page 4 wouldn't have done that as well. Perhaps it is a somewhat more Sunday than daily paper approach. (It is a rather stronger story than the S.Indy on Cameron's trip to South Africa, which is a legitimate report for a book or a paper but was much overdone imho).

Of course, Simon Gardner is wrong that the party has tried to do nothing about it. It is a more powerful story because the leadership has made it an important issue, and put quite a lot of political capital into it. In this sense, "politician misses target" stories are always a bit unfair when the attempt is an ambitious one.

Gareth -
(i)If men and women are equally talented, we must be getting worse MPs as a result of having the best 25% of women and the best 75% of men.
(ii) do you believe in fair chances and equal opportunities? Women clearly don't currently have fair chances, unless you can explain the systemic preference for men over women. Why should mediocre men have better chances than somewhat better women?

Philipa said...

Er.. excuse me but I care very much if a fireman rescuing my family is male or female. The male is the stronger of the species and no, exceptional ends of the spectrum brought out to compare don't matter - generally speaking (and that's how one has to think when setting rules) men are stronger than women. I don't want a socially diverse female rescuing me or my children from a burning building, I'd rather have a man built like a barn door thank you very much.

When you are doing a physical job, like fire fighting then gender, strength, build and aggression all matter. Only men should be fireMEN and anyone who thinks otherwise is, IMHO, an idiot who has never been in any serious danger.

There are some things that only men can do and likewise women. Claiming expenses for sitting on your arse all day isn't one of them.

Mirtha Tidville said...

The best for the job should be the only rule allowed by law and common sense. However when you allow the unhinged near the levers of power, this is what you get...

Times isnt worth reading anyway, so has been off my list for some time.

Craig Ranapia said...

Sunder Katwala:

Of course, it would also be a legitimate story to take a look at how many women occupy senior editorial and management roles at The Times, and its parent company (one of the world's largest media conglomerates).

Then again, I suspect the Tories are damned if they do, damned if they don't, and damned whatever they do. Imagine if a hundred women were selected for safe and winnable Tory seats tomorrow. I'm sure we'd see much harrumphing about political correctness gone mad, and while they're not 'real' women (cf. Maggie The Milk-Snatcher) 'Cameron's Cuties' sure look hot in a twinset.

logdon said...

Take a look at the comment section of news and political blogs and swiftly check out the number of women who join in. Out of Guido's bloggeurs count the bloggeuses. Two or three? Quite pitiful really. Funnily enough the Mail, not exactly a bastion of feminist liberalism, get's quite a few. Compare that with Cif and a picture emerges, the gist of which is Harman talks bollocks.

peter_dtm said...

lets see - in order to 'positively' discriminate for some one - I have to umm ?
oh yes
discriminate AGAINST some one.

There is NO SUCH THING as positive discrimination. Its what the Afrikaaners did with apartheid; they positively discriminated in favour of Afrikaaners.

Go work that out you facist racists who think positive discrimination is in any way morally better than Apartheid.

Why are there so few women MPs - did any one think to count how many women volunteered to become MPs ?

Now that would be worth looking at; I suspect that we would then find that women are OVER represented.

Best man for the job. (man as in the English sense of the word; not some perverted sexist's)