While she was a correspondent at the Financial Times, Cathy Newman was asked for recommendations for people management could take on as reporters. One of those people were hired, but it later emerged that the individual earned £10,000 more than she did.
Considering Newman’s role and seniority at the organisation at the time, it was outrageous. She went to see her boss for a reason why and she got the pay rise overnight.
When I interviewed Newman, now a presenter for Channel 4 News and one of Britain’s most prominent female journalists, late last year, she said that those instances of discrimination stay with you.
“Women who have climbed the ladder have done so in the amounts of discrimination,” Newman said.
I recall our conversation as news emerged this past week regarding a gender pay gap within the BBC, as some of its prominent female journalists called for the broadcaster to take action.
— Mishal Husain (@MishalHusainBBC) July 22, 2017
The need for equal ideas
Journalism is at an interesting point in its history. Amid advertising revenue decline, shifts in consumer habits and criticism from prominent politicians globally, it is trying in the digital age to stay relevant – while some have written off the industry completely.
As the industry evolves, so does the thinking of those who aspire to work in this industry. Those who study it do not intend to seek fame or fortune, but hope to make a difference to the people to whom they will serve – their audiences.
They have questions – questions on whether they can have a viable career in the industry, and if, in this environment of increased competition, they can truly make a difference. For answers, they look to the journalists that inspire them – many of whom are women – in the hope to gain perspective and to make sense of the ever-changing landscape.
It is no secret that I am a feminist, and someone who deeply supports the cause of women in journalism. Their ideas are just as important as men’s, and are quintessential in allowing this industry to remain a vibrant, robust part of our society. It is clear that for journalism’s sake that women’s ideas are treated just like everyone else’s.
Yet, at the same time, it is more than just for the sake of journalism itself. It is for the aspiring journalists up and down the UK and around the world, who want to do what all good journalists do – inform, educate and engage.
Dickens began his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, like this: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” While this is an exciting time for journalism, it is also a challenging time for journalism, and in order for it to continue to be an effervescent, important part of democracy, then the access to all ideas, and ensuring each one is equal, is quintessential.
These ideas represent the future, as do these students. If we can ensure they are at their best, they can ensure their audiences be at their best – and at the same time, ensure journalism continues to be at its best.