Women in the media

The media – well, the BBC at least – seem to be keen to include more women in debates, which is all very well and good. But maybe they need to take  into account that many women who have children may face certain challenges. It shouldn’t be the case, but generally working mums tend still to do the major part of the child/home care as well as work. That means they tend to have very little time for, say, a four-hour round-trip to a tv station for five minutes of airtime. 

They also spend their entire lives planning ahead. Media stuff tends to be very reactive and you generally get around two hours or so to get to the studio. This might mean rearranging who is picking up your children or taking them to various activities. If you have more than one child, this can take some time and organisation. Many of those working in the media may have little experience of what that’s like for one reason or another. Maybe they are young or maybe they have a partner at home or working flexibly who takes care of all this stuff.

Also, it may be important to think of timing if you don’t want to end up only with working mums who have nannies or emergency childcare or live in central London/Manchester. For instance, scheduling a discussion on something relating to single parents and benefits late on a Monday night might make it difficult to get any single parents to attend. You might then end up with Katie Hopkins spouting off yet again on something she knows very little about, if anything. Think about things like half term and holidays. If it’s a toss-up between taking the kids to the cinema on the one day you’ve been able to take time off in half term it may be that being on tv is not top of the priority list unless it’s desperately urgent.

Technology might come to the rescue. Perhaps Skype quality will improve significantly in the next few years and people can contribute from home rather than being put up in a hotel in Manchester for the night for five minutes on the sofa on Breakfast News. It could save the tv people millions and mean that they are truly more inclusive – not just of women, but people living in rural areas, the disabled, the sick and so on.

It’s not that I want to be negative, but I feel more thinking might need to be done by the media on how they can pull this new agenda off. They need to be more imaginative or at the very least understand a bit more the issues that their potential speakers might be facing. The other day I did a radio interview in mid-evening. I mentioned it was half term and I had four children in the house. The researcher said that was great. They’d had a baby on earlier who gurgled rather sweetly in the background. I don’t think she quite envisaged the chaos four children on half term can mean. I sat them all down with a DVD and primed them with popcorn and hid in the study. Just seconds before the call only son started wailing and I could hear daughter one switching to Kerrang tv! I backed into the toilet and locked the door. I somehow doubt Katie Hopkins has these problems.

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