Jeremy Paxman – that scourge of bullshitting British politicians and proud possessor of a gob the size of a minor planet – has been stirring it up yet again. At the Edinburgh TV Festival (where else?) Paxo declared that middle class white men such as himself are now an endangered sub-species in medialand:
“Do I think it’s a man’s world in television? That is the most ridiculous question I have been asked all week. The worst thing you can be in this industry is a middle class white male. If any middle class white male I come across says he wants to enter television, I say ‘give up all hope’ – they’ve no chance.”
Paxo is correct, in a sense, but for the wrong reasons.
Paxman’s critic Mariella Frostrup has it right: the upper echelons of the media are dominated by middle class white men. Although there are increasing numbers of XX-chromosomed creative talents and useless management wasters on the way up, men are still in control.
Where women rule is at lower levels in newsrooms and the publishing sector in general. In the five years I’ve been working as a freelance journalist, I’ve had just one male commissioning editor, and he left the job after a couple of months to return to practising law. Virtually everyone else – editors, publishers, PRs, the lot – is female.
Why is this so? I haven’t a clue.
Do I mind? Not a bit.