Media Watch's Paul Barry
Media Watch's Paul Barry Supplied

Media Watch segment upsets five of our finest

If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, imagine the furore if you've angered five of them.

ABC's Media Watch, the self-proclaimed industry watchdog, is under fire after a story this week grossly miscounted the number of female editors on daily newspapers in the News Corp stable.

Media Watch said in its piece there were just two women editors of daily News titles across metro and regional, but they were a whopping 250% off with 7 females actually in charge of daily papers.

The reporting has been slammed as ''shoddy and unbalanced''.

The statistical blunder came in Media Watch's coverage of the evolving Don Burke saga. In trying to make a point about what it said was the male-dominated top ranks of the media world in this country, host Paul Barry listed only Townsville's Jenna Cairney and Cairns' Jennifer Spilsbury as women editors of daily papers in either metro or regional sites.

But he forgot Rowan Hunnam (Mackay, Daily Mercury), Christine McKee (Gladstone, The Observer), Shelley Strachan (The Gympie Times), Shannon Newley (Ipswich, Queensland Times) and Kerri Moore (Warwick Daily News).

Editor Jenna Cairney accepts the award for Newspaper of the Year for the Sunshine Coast Daily last year. Jenna is now editing the Townsville Bulletin, after a News Corp promotion.
Editor Jenna Cairney accepts the award for Newspaper of the Year for the Sunshine Coast Daily last year. Jenna is now editing the Townsville Bulletin, after a News Corp promotion. Adam Hourigan


Media Watch has claimed it got the list of regional editors off a News Corp website - but the program covered News' buyout earlier this year of Australian Regional Media, which delivered it 12 new daily titles, and as recently as October ran a story where it reviewed coverage in several of the new regional titles in NSW and Queensland.

We asked to interview the Media Watch host about his program's omissions but the request was denied.

Instead, the show's executive producer, Tim Latham, said the show's researchers did not try to slant the figures to make it look like there were more male-led newsrooms than reality.

Daily Mercury editor Rowan Hunnam with Layne Beachley at Mackay Club's 'Tackle the Greatest Wave' at the MECC.
Daily Mercury editor Rowan Hunnam with Layne Beachley at Mackay Club's 'Tackle the Greatest Wave' at the MECC. Cas Garvey


"The point of the story was that the key metro newsrooms in Australia, across daily newspapers and TV networks, are run by blokes," Mr Latham said.

However, in the show, Mr Barry actually said of News Corp's editors, ''and out of four regional dailies, women only edit two''. News has 16 regional dailies, with seven edited by women.

News Corp's editorial director of regional titles, Bryce Johns, said it was simply a case of poor reporting.
''This was shoddy and unbalanced by Media Watch,'' he said.

He said News had supplied a list of top editorial female executives to the program, and in what he said appeared to be an example of ''slanted reporting'' Media Watch had neglected to even mention that the editor of the biggest news website in the country, news.com.au, was a woman, Kate de Brito.

''It seems to me that mentioning News had more women editors didn't fit the narrative it was trying to portray - that women are woefully under-represented in leadership positions.''

Mr Johns said having seven women editors of 16 papers was something to be proud of.

''That's a number any media organisation would be jealous of. We're close to 50% of editors being women and that could well be a first.

''They're all damn good journalists, and five of our seven balance motherhood with the responsibilities of managing a newspaper going to press at night.''

Debate about the Media Watch segment was intriguing on Twitter this week.

The Gympie Times editor Shelley Strachan and photographer Renee Albrecht were proud to accept the PANPA Community Newspaper of the Year Award in Sydney on Wednesday.
The Gympie Times editor Shelley Strachan and photographer Renee Albrecht were proud to accept the PANPA Community Newspaper of the Year Award in Sydney on Wednesday. Contributed

Mackay editor Rowan Hunnam replied: ''Surely you meant 'thanks and sorry' @TheRealPBarry? And yes, hi, Rowan Hunnam, female editor of another News Corp regional title.''

Mr Barry tweeted back: ''Yes. Sorry. We took our list of News Corp regional dailies from the News Corp website.''

APN Editorial Director Bryce Johns. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
APN Editorial Director Bryce Johns. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam
News Corp Australia


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