No excuses for media not to hear women’s voices

As author of the Listening to Voices survey in 2010 and co-author of the updated survey earlier this year, I would like to respond to Matt Cooper’s article in the Irish Examiner (Apr 13).

I welcome his contribution to the debate on female commentators in the media. Cooper criticises the survey for not recognising that he had interviewed Dr Maureen Gaffney for 30 minutes on one particular day. The other panellists were not timed either and numerous sporting and business interviews were neither logged nor timed, and if they had the figures would have been further distorted.

The aim of this particular survey was just to log the male and female voices on air, but the next survey may well look at timing the contributions of contributors.

Cooper cites the large number of female staff working as producers and editors in the background.

Again the point of the survey was to show the number of male voices dominating the airwaves across the three national stations. Indeed many of those voices show up regularly across all programmes i.e. Michael O’Regan, Fionnán Sheahan, Noel Whelan, Shane Coleman, (presenter and panellist) Harry McGee, Dan O’Brien, etc. The BAI submission states that “The elite media engages in a process of continuous reflection of itself: it is a mirror of itself rather than of Irish society”. With a bit of thought and effort the present pool could be widened to reflect gender, race and regional spread.

“Women on Air” was formed by Margaret E. Ward and they have drawn up a list of names of women who are willing to take part in programmes discussing topics from A-Z. They also provide media training for women. With such a resource there is little excuse from any media outlet to trot out the excuse that they cannot get women.

In Jun 1988 I switched off Rodney Rice’s Saturday View programme as he had an all male panel discussing a book by June Levine on the murder of a prostitute by a pimp. I have been switching off ever since. Little has changed in the 23-plus years.

Cooper refers to his daughters and asks for men and women to work together to achieve a fairer more equal society. I support this call.

Lucy Keaveney

Killester

Ratoath

Co Meath

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