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MIA: The average age of a female TV news host?

Mel and Kochie from Seven’s Sunrise.

 

By MIA FREEDMAN

Mel Doyle is leaving Sunrise. But this is a good news post. I don’t mean it’s good news that Mel Doyle is leaving Sunrise. I like Mel very much and I think she does a terrific job as a breakfast TV host. She’s warm, empathetic, engaging and down to earth. But the role she has at Channel 7 is not my business nor my decision. That’s one for her employers.

When Mel Doyle announced her resignation from Sunrise after 12 years of waking up at 3:15 am, she said in a statement: “I’ve been offered a great opportunity to front a new, prime time network news initiative…  I decided it was time to take on a new challenge and so it is with great sadness that I announce I will be leaving Sunrise.”

But ever since her departure was made public, rumours have been circulating as to the real reason why she’s leaving. A few days ago it was reported that Channel Seven told Melissa Doyle she would step down from her appointment as co-host of Sunrise and accept a $150,000 a year pay cut. (Channel 7 has denied reports of the $150K pay cut and maintained that Doyle’s move was a promotion).

Then the same news outlet started reporting rumours that 43 year old Doyle was moved to purposely make way for Samantha Armytage, who is 35. According to News Limited, sources said that Channel Seven wanted Armytage because male viewers find her “sexy”. Channel 7 also denied these reports saying that their research shows that Mel Doyle’s age and appearance is no issue. “Those are the things that make her appeal to audiences,” the spokesperson said.

You can make up your own mind about all of that.

The reason I think this is a good news post is that in all the press coverage about Mel leaving has unearthed this surprising fact: the average age of a female host on morning, current affairs and nightly news shows is…… 43. And that’s a big change from where we were 10 years ago when it was rare to see a female among the many middle-aged male newsreaders that dominate commercial news screens.

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Frankly, I think this is delightful. Because the women I most respect, admire and enjoy watching on TV are not 25 or 30 or even 35 (with the exception of Carrie Bickmore who is 32 and outstanding at what she does).

MIA: “The older I’ve become, the less I realise I know.”

There’s nothing wrong with being those ages but I don’t believe it’s possible to hit your stride as a journalist (or quite honestly as a woman) until you have more runs on the board. More notches on your belt. More flying time. More experience. More exposure to life.

When I was 21, I knew everything. All of it. This over-confidence (and at times arrogance) is not the preserve of Gen Y as the media like to suggest. I’m Gen X and carried a big suitcase of over-confidence around with me through much of my late teens and early twenties.

The older I’ve become, the less I realise I know.

Because it’s not until life gives you a few good whacks around the head – professionally, personally, publicly, privately – that your character begins to form a discernable adult shape. Your scars become your strength. Your failures and your disappointments become your wisdom. And your heartbreak opens you up to making better choices.

Our societies fawning obsession with younger, newer, fresher, more perfect frustrates the hell out of me. At 41, I want to see examples of women hitting their stride and celebrated for things other than being a phsycially perfect blank page.

Women like this:

So bravo to all the women who are showing us what it looks like to be at the height of your career and being true role models to women of all ages.

How do you feel about Mel Doyle leaving Sunrise? Who is your favourite woman on television?

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