Perky Boobs & Newsroom Babes

Not a pert-breasted bimbo. pic by Ruby Goes

“Talentless, pert-breasted reporters don’t know the world, let alone journalism,” said Geoffrey Barker, and lo the manure descendeth upon him from a great height and all corners of the earth, yea, even unto the ends thereof.

Yes, it was a sexist rant: there are quite as many talentless himbos as bimbos fronting up at car crashes, factory fires, farm accidents and bushfires, with buttocks as pert in their tight suit trousers as the women’s boobs in their low-cut tops.

Yes, it was a generalisation: pert boobs and/or buttocks do not automatically mean their owner spends any less time exercising their brains than their bodies.

Lip gloss and hair gel do not magically reduce reporters IQs, and the fact that their reporting is often superficial, cliched and downright cringeworthy is not necessarily related to their intelligence or talent, or lack thereof.

Nevertheless, Barker has a point. But he’s pointing his cannon at the wrong set of boobs.

He’d do better to point them at the management of television news and current affairs departments. They are largely run by older white men with a droopy top deck and an eye for a pretty girl, or, occasionally, boy.

TV is (shock news alert!) a visual medium. Competition for on-camera jobs is fierce. Pretty faces and hot bodies are going to be ahead of the game when it comes to securing camera time. And middle aged men are going to have their judgement skewed by a sexy boy or babe, with or without an accompanying brain.

So yes, their are some bimbos and himbos with just enough smarts to report to camera. And let’s face it, it doesn’t take that much. An ability to talk to people, elicit basic information, and occasionally walk and talk at the same time.

High-end interviewing skills are not required. My experience, having been interviewed for TV news a time or two, is that they ask very basic questions, and film up to half an hour of conversation, 99% of which is discarded. The interview you see is basically created by the news editor, not the reporter.

It’s a cinema cliche that TV is stuffed with ambitious bimbos who don’t know their own limitations. There’ve been more than a few of those in recent Australian TV, but I might get into trouble if I mention names.

It also awash with clever young women who resent having to play the role of bimbo to get in front of the cameras in the first place. Some of these make it through to become respected correspondents and newsreaders. Some end up on 60 Minutes or A Current Affair. Some cling to newsreader gigs with the aid of fanatic dieting, botox and plastic surgery – to keep the blokes upstairs happy.

The other people Barker might have taken a shot at are the managers and owners of commercial TV stations. They’re interested in money first, quality second.

Like me, Barker prefers the ABC and SBS, and presumably reads The Age in preference to the Herald Sun. But we’re in a minority. The vast majority of the viewing audience don’t want in depth reporting and analysis. They come home tired and fed up after work and want simple, basic, predigested information that does not require any effort to understand in an easy-on-the-eye package. That’s what delivers the greatest number of them to the commercial channels and their advertisers, and that’s what owners and managers need.

If Barker wants better quality television news and current affairs, he should be agitating for a return of the licence fee that has kept Britain’s BBC at the top of the world heap for so many years. That stuff costs money, and commercial TV will never provide it.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)