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Do this generation's female journalists lack talent?

By Mark Christensen - posted Monday, 13 May 2013


No contrived psychodrama better exemplifies the one-dimensional nature of our centre-left media establishment than the moral outrage directed at Geoffrey Barker for his article slamming talentless, pert-breasted female reporters who don't know the world, let alone journalism.

The retired Fairfax journalist had plenty to say, much of it rather direct.

He doesn't approve of the way "TV babes compress sometimes urgent and ongoing matters into a few barely coherent sentences that simply fail to reflect events with any semblance of their true complexity". Women with perfect complexions and arctic white teeth diminish the notion of quality journalism, since they "have neither the time nor the talent to offer trustworthy accounts of the matters on which they claim knowledge".

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Jenny Brockie, an otherwise quality journalist with SBS, tweeted that Barker clearly "had issues" for wanting to insult an entire generation. She didn't even know where to start with such sexism.

Virginia Trioli of ABC Breakfast News, another very smart woman, speculated that Barker "may prefer journalists of my vintage but I think this is a nasty unkind attack on young women reporters. Really ugly stuff."

Such uncritical reactions, mirrored by many on social media, encourage us to presume Barker's generalisations are literally true in all cases.

By officially sanctioning the comments as purely personal and vindictive, designed only to offend for the sake of offending, Brockie and Trioli appeal to our tribal prejudices. The possibility Barker is onto something that deserves our attention is dismissed before it can be discussed. And anyone concerned about censorship, is clearly just as revolting and deluded.

To my tweet suggesting perhaps her account of things was superficial, Trioli replied: "Oh come off it! Barker indulges in an offensive, nasty sexist rant and I'M supposed to see through it to some truth? Pfft!"

I suppose it was too much to expect.

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Loudly and proudly dismissing Barker as cheap and nefarious protects political interests, in this case gender equality, from cold, hard reality. While such mindless behaviour is understandable, it's self-absorbed wilfulness is nevertheless destructive, and ultimately counter-productive.

Not denigrating Barker could put the great gains from progressive politics at risk. Any discourse that seems to target women must be called out immediately as sexist, just as anyone who questions the efficacy of indigenous welfare or entitlement spending has to be labelled, without qualification, a bigot or cruel-hearted social Darwinist.

The self-congratulatory intellectualism is so pathological it cannot imagine itself grounded in anything but an unambiguously positive cause. Shutting down debate through shame and ridicule is presumed to be righteous, since acknowledging the truth could easily result in unenlightened males and racists being let off the hook.

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A version of this article was published by the Age.



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About the Author

Mark is a social and political commentator, with a background in economics. He also has an abiding interest in philosophy and theology, and is trying to write a book on the nature of reality. He blogs here.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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