It’s still a man’s word in this nation’s media
During this same period, there were dozens of male economic writers who reported and commented on the policies of treasurers and secretaries to the treasury, who were all men as well.
Given the predominantly male perspective applied to the men responsible for the last third of a century of Australian economic policy, what chance of male monovision in reporting and analyzing its nature and impact? Quite high, you think.
Laura Tingle (ABC 7.30, old AFR), which joined the press gallery at the end of 1986, deserves special mention. Although she was never a writer specializing in economics, Tingle drew on her previous experience in banking and finance at the AFR in Sydney and quickly evolved into an authoritative journalist and commentator on politics and economics.
In terms of longevity, expertise and impact, Tingle and Michelle Grattan are the two most influential women in the history of the press gallery – and thank goodness they are there, along with a few stellar female colleagues from the gallery. Press.
But how come they exist in a media world where, like the Take the next steps report shows that men still write two of the three opinion pieces and political reports published in Australia, and where the AFR recently spent some time without a female reporter of any kind in his Canberra office?
The report’s interview with AFR Editor-in-chief Joanne “Jo” Gray provides an important clue. “I worked in Canberra during the Hawke-Keating years and it was fantastic,” said Gray. But gender balance as a main line of action “comes and goes a bit,” she says, and “if you lose your focus for a second, you lose momentum”.
Gray has a long list of issues affecting the gender balance on the header that she manages. They add to this: if you don’t have a map, you don’t know where you’re going, and if you don’t keep an eye on the map all the time, you won’t get there. That’s it.
Chris Wallace is Associate Professor at the 50/50 By 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra. @c_s_wallace