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March 08 2010

15:58

#IWD: Chie Elliott – ‘Sidelining of TV’s older women could be reflective of society’s warped views’

Blogger and freelance journalist Chie Elliott (@orangeblossomer) has written a wide-ranging piece to mark International Women’s Day and its relevance to the media/publishing industries. The post can be read in full on her own blog at this link.

It wasn’t that long ago that BBC boss Mark Thompson came under fire for replacing a mature female judge in a popular dance show with a pop star 36 years her junior.

The fact that in television, older, grey-haired male presenters carry on commanding respect well into their retirement age, whereas their female counterparts get sidelined as their age starts to show, could be a reflection of a society’s warped views about women, and not exclusive to the industry.

Women’s value and employability should not be conditional to age or appearance, but women in highly visible jobs such as television or film, do not always seem to have a choice. Anna Ford, a journalist worshipped by her male peers as something nearing a sex goddess in her heyday, decided to retire in April 2006, at 62, saying:

“I might have been shovelled off into News 24 to the sort of graveyard shift.”

The BBC’s  drive to recruit older female newsreaders, announced soon after the Strictly Come Dancing judge swap saga, strikes me as laughable. I can visualise a screaming headline: “Older women join ethnic minorities and the disabled under positive discrimination scheme.” Or, more bluntly, as The Independent put it: “Must be Female. Young Need Not Apply”.

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February 05 2010

12:54

PCC’s credibility under attack

The Press Complaints Commission is once again under attack for its structure and effectiveness as a self-regulatory body.

Last night the Guardian reported how Sir Ken Macdonald, ­visiting professor of law at the LSE and the former director of public prosecutions, had called for “all credible media organisations” to withdraw from the “farcical” Press ­Complaints Commission (a plea which was made by Geoffery Robertson QC last year).

The event for editors and lawyers, also featured Max Clifford, former Formula 1 chief Max Mosley, former TV presenter Anna Ford, the editors of the Guardian and the Financial Times, and the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian also reported:

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, said the credibility of the PCC was “clinging by its fingertips” and that recent investigations had been “embarrassing”. The PCC’s current review should work out whether it has the capacity to be a regulator or a mediator, he said.

It’s timely then, to compare Rusbridger’s quotes from last night, with Stephen Abell’s comments this week, in his first media interview since becoming director of the PCC:

Abell told Journalism.co.uk that he didn’t believe Rusbridger’s resignation from the PCC code committee weakened the body at all:

Alan Rusbridger has said it [the code committee] does a good job (…) I think these arguments happens within industries but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to move on from that. I don’t think it weakens the PCC in any way that Alan is leaving an industry body that he was a member of for a while. You don’t have every editor on the code committee anyway (…) I think it’s tremendous merit that Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian was on the code committee for as long as he was.

Journalism.co.uk’s interview with Stephen Abell (who took over as PCC director in December 2009):

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