In this opinion piece, SBS journalist Ellie Laing responds to a report in The Australian that suggested she and her colleagues were hired for their looks.
I’m a 32 year old married woman who like so many, endures a daily struggle with frizzy hair and the occasional breakout.
So when a compliment suggesting I might be, in some way, “attractive” comes my way, I’ll take it.
What I won’t take is a suggestion that because I’m “attractive”, white and a woman it somehow detracts from the credibility and substance of the news service I work for.
Yet that’s exactly what I woke up to on Monday morning.
A photo of me, in the middle of the media section of The Australian, along with a number of other photos of my “attractive” female colleagues – suggesting our boss had deliberately hired us because of the way we looked, and because we were women.
And the suggestion was there – that the news service has suffered as a result.
It said SBS newsrooms now buzz with “young”, female reporters who were good looking and Anglo-Celtic.
Of course it failed to mention anything about our abilities. Our work-ethic. Our experience.
No, the author left all that out.
In my case it didn’t mention the near decade of experience I could bring to the newsroom after enjoying a long career across radio and TV at the ABC, Seven and Ten.
Never mind the fact that I work damned hard.
There was nothing in there either about the network of contacts I’ve built up over the years by earning people’s trust.
And no mention of the six day week I work at the moment to fit in a day of Journalism teaching at Macleay College – nurturing the reporters of the future.
It said SBS’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Jim Carroll, had wanted a more commercial approach and better ratings.
Heaven forbid. A News Director that wants to get more people watching!
The author claimed while SBS viewers want world news, the newsroom is focusing more on domestic news content.
Watch our bulletin and you’ll see just how much world content there is. There’s no other evening bulletin like it.