Social media and women in Wilkinson's sights at Olle lecture | radioinfo

Social media and women in Wilkinson's sights at Olle lecture

Tuesday 29 October, 2013

At this year's Andrew Olle lecture, Lisa Wilkinson looked at the issue of quality journalism in the modern media age. She examined the two edged sword of social media and took aim at some women who are more interested in thw quality of the clothes she wears on tv rather than the quality of her journalism.

Some of her comments included:

On Media Jobs

I am sad to note that since Mark Colvin delivered the 2012 Olle lecture, the MEAA reports that more than 1,000 jobs for Australian journalists have been lost, with the numbers going from around 9,000 to just under 8,000 around the country. With the collapse of the funding model, our once exclusive Fourth Estate has been under siege, by millions of enthusiasts bearing iphones and laptops. So now, while traditional media struggles, contracts, reinvents and tries desperately to survive, everyone, it seems, can now join us in the sandpit and play journalist...

On Social media

Our bosses now encourage the rest of us to engage in social media. Lord knows my former Executive Producer at Today, Tom Malone, took years to convince me I should get on board. In the end he stopped trying to convince me, and used a much better method. He ordered me to do it. Even then, I was far from convinced.

Too self-indulgent. Too intrusive, I thought. Even the name of this new form of communication seemed to be its own running gag on those who chose to partake...

But, with all this pressure to engage with social media, to share of ourselves, our thoughts, our behind-the-scenes moments, add our two cents worth to the day's hottest hashtag in the constant daily churn and burn of the 24 hour news cycle the problem is this:

With it, social media brings a need . . . a need for speed. And obviously, that speed - the greatest weapon social media has going for it - can be the enemy of accuracy - the greatest thing traditional journalism has going for it.

On Women and Media

When you're a woman doing breakfast TV, you quickly learn the sad truth, that what you wear can sometimes generate a bigger reaction than even any political interview you ever do.

I absolutely love co-hosting the Today Show and I do feel truly privileged right now to be part of such a great team - yes, even over the last month when we have somehow entered that disconcerting place that I know many of you in the room have visited where you somehow go from reporting the news to being it...

As a woman in the media, it has long saddened me that while we delight in covering public issues of overt sexism - possibly the hottest topic in media over the last twelve months - the media itself can be every bit as guilty of treating women entirely differently to men.

And in terms of our audience, the cliché is so often true - it is women who can turn out to be a woman's harshest critic.

Take this email that arrived in the Today Show Inbox, from a viewer called Angela, in March of this year . . .

Who the heck is Lisa's stylist?

Whoever it is has Lisa in some shocking clothes.
Today's outfit is particularly jarring and awful.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Get Some Style.

Now, while I know I am far from being above criticism, good sense should tell me to leave that sort of semi-anonymous stuff alone. But some mornings . . .

Dear Angela,

Thanks for all of your "Get Some Style" feedback.

Please feel free to send me a list of all the outfits you don't like out of the 200 or so that I come up with each year, and I'll see what I can do.

Just so I can prepare, are we just talking about the outfits I wear for the Today Show, or the ones I come up with to wear for red carpet and charity events as well?

You'll need to be very specific because that is a lot of outfits to remember.

Please include suggested colours, sleeve lengths, skirt shapes, your preference for prints, fabric weights, jackets vs blouses, etc . . .

Of course Angela, given that I am a journalist - and not a supermodel - it is important that anything I wear allows me to feel comfortable for three and a half hours on set or perhaps outside when we're on location.

Oh, and I'm a married mother of three, so nothing too revealing.

And nothing I wear can ever clash with what Georgie is wearing. And I have a larger bust, so nothing tight, thanks. Oh, and I'm not very tall - did I mention I'm not a model? - so please take that into consideration as well.

And finally, I must never clash with Karl's ties. Or suits. Or the couch.

And I must be seasonally appropriate.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,


I think I did her head in because I never heard from Angela again.

For the full written speech, click here. To listen, click here.

Related article: Hate speech and the rush to publish are two great challenges to quality journalism

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