ABC’s Media Watch has backed claims by veteran News Corp photographer, Fiona Rogers, that the media publisher will cover stories based primarily on whether a female subject is attractive, or has a large social media following.
News Corp photographer, Fiona Rogers, who was made redundant last year after almost three decades, told the Senate Inquiry into Media Diversity about the ‘sexist’ workplace culture at News Corp.
Inside Imaging covered how Rogers was told to only photograph attractive women, and she experienced females in the workplace were paid less and given fewer promotions than their male counterparts.
Rogers explained there was a major negative shift when News Corp introduced online subscriber targets for staff in 2019, pressuring journalists and photographers to pursue stories that generate clicks.
One affect this had was on court reporting. Journalists and photographers would scout for attractive female defendants and file reports on this basis, rather than the public interest of the case.
‘If the women are attractive and have more than a thousand followers then it is much more likely that they will run the story online as it’ll get more page views,’ Rogers said.
Media Watch found News Corp articles about a Gold Coast Playboy model charged with minor drug possession, three grams of cocaine, along with plenty of racy pictures lifted from Instagram. A glamour model’s drug possession charge is hardly newsworthy by Gold Coast standards!
The ABC tv show found similar examples, with all News Corp articles lifted numerous racy pictures. Seems like it’s more about publishing the pictures than anything else.
Rogers also said when she worked for the Cairns Post, editors would prefer generic images to feature an attractive woman.
‘…if we were told to go and get weather, a generic I’d say, you know, a weather photo, a budget story, family about something, it would always be an attractive woman, a cute kid. Never an attractive man but particularly attractive women were always emphasised …
It was a directive to get attractive people to fit, that met the standards of beauty, I guess, by the male hierarchy at News Corp.’
A News Corp journalist confirmed this to Media Watch.
‘I once went out on three consecutive days to get a picture for the same story because the woman we shot each time wasn’t white or attractive enough,’ they said.
Beyond the blatant objectification of women by Australian news papers, another issue is that reporters are spending time covering topics which have little public interest or newsworthy merit.
Watch the Media Watch segment here.