barker353

Wanna read the news, dude?

Former Fairfax journalist Geoffrey Barker has been savaged in the last 24 hours because he rather bluntly expressed an opinion even blind Freddy can see is accurate: there are a lot of young, beautiful, not particularly credible, female journalists on our TV screens.

Has the media conversation about women and beauty become so ridiculously dishonest, someone can speak an ugly truth, yet we'll deny its veracity because of ... inelegance?

Whatever you think about Barker's style of delivery, I can't see how you can deny his substance: TV journalism is bursting with bimbos, as it is with himbos - slick young men who look good in suits or a rain cape.

I know 200 journalists - male and female - who will never get a gig on TV because they are not good looking enough, they're too old or they're too fat.

More than that, they would not even try to get work on air because they know how TV journalism works.

Cast your eyes around your office: the people you see are just what journos look like. Would you put them in front of a camera?

Yes, there are many, many exceptions to this rule, but how can any moderately sentient person who's worked in the media say there is not a correlation between the way you look and getting a gig on air?

Barker's piece shot wide because he chose to focus only on young, beautiful women, failing to emphasise there are many young, handsome men populating our newsrooms who are also incapable of scratching their arse and finding chocolate.

Barker's sin, if any, is one of omission.

Having never met Barker and knowing nothing about him, I cannot speculate as to what motivated his piece - whether it was a genuine concern for the quality of TV journalism, a sexist swipe or a mix of both.

But he wrote the truth and, as unpalatable as some people might find it, it's far more distasteful we howl someone down because their message has trodden outside the increasingly subjective boundaries of discussing gender in the media.

Barker's argument that vapid, pretty people infest TV news was somehow misrepresented as him saying you can't be beautiful and smart or, that if you have blonde hair, blue eyes and are female, you are stupid.

This is the kind of reductionist, exaggerating rhetoric you see in the vilest of American TV political commentary.

We are reaching a point where to criticise women publicly is distorted as being misogyny. To comment on their appearance, good or bad, is seen only as objectification.

I understand implicitly there is a sensitivity, born of our history of misogyny, repression and objectification of women, that informs many of these reactions.

However, one of the oldest tricks of repression is distorting voices of dissent, so you avoid the true argument altogether.

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