Never has there been a more redundant statement than “it’s a man’s world” when it comes to the reporting of politics. Across the main news channels, we see some of the best female journalists this country has to offer navigating the biggest stories of our time. They don’t take a supporting role; they aren’t the back-up. No, they’re the main event, the leaders; the ones which the audiences wait for with bated breath to hear their analysis. They’re also women, and they’re beginning to dominate a world which not so long ago was dubbed that ridiculous statement of “a man’s world.”
These phenomenal women circumnavigate the political quagmire with an ease and precision that matches, and in most cases excels their male counterparts. From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Sky News’ Beth Rigby, ITV’s Susanna Reid and the journalist who’s been leading the charge from the front for decades, Kay Burley, we have seen a forensic analysis of politics which is both engaging, concise, thought-provoking and fair.
These qualities are now more important than ever as we continue to dissect the political beast that is Brexit. With such fearsome opinions on all sides and the divisions in our country only increasing, holding truth to power has never been more important. And in a time where women’s voices are being elevated to heights first thought unreachable, it’s wonderful to see women demanding this consensus.
Sadly, against this necessary and positive progression in news broadcasting we can also see the statutory sexism and misogyny aimed at these formidable women on Twitter. Hounded with the type of insults which would never grace the comments section of their male counterpart’s posts, I would argue whether those who criticise could do a better job in the field than these journalists?
Have they never seen Laura Kuenssberg’s interviews with Prime Ministers? Or the detailed and varied political analysis of Beth Rigby? Have they never watched the awesome no-nonsense control Kay Burley has over a live-television debate? And Susanna Reid is the woman who can silence Piers Morgan! But no, to some in their comments stream, they should ‘shut-up and know their place’.
They are consistently accused of “favouritism”, a description which is banded around far too often nowadays. Unbiased, unfair, “she’s a Remainer”, “she’s a Leaver”; labels thrown into the political hemisphere without evidence or conviction.
Take Kay Burley for example. Since the referendum result of 2016, where the UK voted to leave the European Union, she has been called a Leaver and a Remainer all in one day. In a debate between Remain supporter Femi Oluwole and the Brexit Party’s Lucy Harris, Burley was accused of being a Remainer. She subsequently revealed that in fact she didn’t vote in the referendum at all.
Having watched Kay Burley for years on Sky News, her direct, simplistic style of questioning, which cuts through the political nonsense, is exactly what the majority of voters want and more importantly need. And her revelation of not voting in the 2016 referendum doesn’t really matter. Her job isn’t to promote her own voting credentials but maintain her record of fair questioning. Watching her interviews with candidates on all sides of the argument is the same – she pulls no punches. She has actively counterargued the remain side, the leave side, Labour, Conservative, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Green Party; all spectrums of the political wheel have been placed under her fair interrogations.
Burley treats everyone with the same scrutiny with which a journalist should, and she does it better than most. To suggest anything else is deeply disingenuous. After all, how else has she stayed at the forefront of British journalism for so long?
It’s most likely that these accusations do not penetrate the consciousness of these women, and they shouldn’t. What their prominence on our screens vehemently states is that gender is no longer the compass of success. Their work is much larger than the cheap accusations of favouritism. It provides a door into the world of political journalism for young girls who perhaps have felt this exciting world was closed to them.
When you see Susanna Reid hosting Good Morning Britain, one of the most talked about morning shows in the UK, she’s opened the door. When Laura Kuenssberg’s phenomenal documentary ‘The Brexit Storm’ aired on BBC Two, showing the inner workings of both the reporting and analysing of the British political system, she opened the door. When Beth Rigby was the first to be picked to ask a question to President Donald Trump on his official State Visit, she opened the door. Kay Burley’s entire career has been opening the door and now we’re reaping the benefits.
“This is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl” are lyrics from an iconic song which these women defy. Their hard work, determination, professionalism and composure has proved that the reporting of the political universe is no longer a man’s world to start off with. It is one where women have a seat at the table, calling the shots, proving their worth and ensuring we all take notice. This is the age of political women and long may they reign.