“What is there to worry about, if you look at this panel and their achievements in the media?” asked chair Anne McElvoy at the start of the London Press Club Women in the Media forum, citing the three leading editors and British television’s longest-serving newsreader sat beside her. But, as she quickly acknowledged, it is not as simple as that. Kay Burley perhaps best summed it up: “Of course it isn’t a perfect world that’s why we’re sitting here talking about it.”

Yet the event, held in association with The Huffington Post UK and the London Evening Standard, was far more upbeat than negative, with ‘inspirational’ being the watchword from the packed audience which ranged from journalism students to senior figures from print, online and PR including Anji Hunter and Stefano Hatfield.

19-nov-nh-women debate  0005McElvoy and Sky News presenter Burley were joined by The Huffington Post UK editor-in-chief Carla Buzasi, Independent on Sunday editor Lisa Markwell and Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands.

“What tends to happen is that caution prevails,” was how Sands explained the traditional shortage of women in the most senior roles, paying tribute to her publisher for its innovation and risk-taking, with her and Markwell both editing papers, alongside the first non-white male editor, Amol Rajan. Markwell referenced a recent dinner for editors where a male peer expressed disbelief that she “edited the whole paper” rather than one of the supplements.

Buzasi spoke of the importance of the “female sensibilities we bring to our roles” stressing that her journalists should have a life outside the office both for their good and that of her sites.

A recurring issue was the different way women were treated within the media – from coverage such as the recent Daily Mirror 19-nov-nh-women debate  104story on Debbie Harry to Burley being described in-air by Chris Bryant MP as “a bit dim”, which the panel agreed would not have happened with a male counterpart.

But mention was also made of significant steps in the right direction. Buzasi noted that initially women were more hesitant to blog and were worried about how their opinions might come across, but have now found their voice and there are more women than men blogging on HuffPost UK. Burley revealed that one in three interviewees on Sky News are now female, from one in seven just a few years ago.

The last word should go to Burley, who encouraged the audience to interact on Twitter through the evening, and a tweet to McElvoy, Buzasi, Markwell and Sands: @KayBurleyLadies, what a brilliant evening. I think we’re almost there…

The forum, held at Stationer’s Hall in central London, marked the start of a new year-long sponsorship of London Press Club by award-winning carmaker ŠKODA.

Photos: Nigel Howard, www.nigelhowardmedia.com

Check out some video coverage of the event here:



Event driven by ŠKODA