Guest Post – Channel 5 Editor Cait FitzSimons tells Lis Howell why C5 News has a consistently higher ratio of female to male experts than other programmes……. and staved off the male politicians during the Covid-19 crisis…..

Cait says “I’ve been working in news for more than 20 years. In that time, TV journalism has become more fast-paced and more demanding. Multi-skilling is now the norm. Teams are smaller and often produce content for multiple platforms. There are more women in positions of power and diversity is at the centre of editorial and managerial agendas. 

Much has changed, but there still isn’t equality for women and other under-represented groups. Why are we talking about progress and targets when the people who aren’t getting on air – either as reporters, editors, producers or contributors – are right there. It is clear organisations need to try harder. 

So, as a newsroom that’s found some measure of success, what is 5 News trying? 

1: A broader agenda 

As Editor, I need to make sure that my viewers are kept informed about the most important stories of the day but there’s always space for stories which won’t make it onto other programmes. At 5, we make it a priority to look for stories are sourced from under-represented communities or groups – so on-screen diversity is woven into the story-telling. It isn’t forced or a quota, it flows from an editorial decision. 

2: The 5 News’ team 

I work with a young and diverse team. There’s no argument to be won with them about why diversity matters – they pitch stories and seek out contributors from across society and respond positively to efforts to do more of this. The end result of more diversity isn’t simply a newsroom or programme that looks different – it will change the way we work, the stories we tell and the viewers who watch. 

3: Challenging editorial expectations 

I’ve been around newsrooms for a long time, so there’s nothing better than being surprised by a pitch. I want to encourage my team to go after stories they aren’t sure about and speak to people who are outside of the traditional editorial agenda. TV news is still dominated by the same types of stories from 10, 20, 30 years ago – 5 News is a place to try something different and give fresh perspectives a chance to be heard. “

One Comment

  1. I’m def not an expert on anything – but I do have expert antennae tuned to what other women are thinking; on any topic…apart from hair + makeup/shouting about sport.

    The world is already a lonely place for women ref the stubborn, aggressive inequality or the non stop supply of male ‘experts’…to say nothing about the crumbling empires of vertical structures and rhetoric.

    I also listen with a very keen ear tuned to detect cynicism or ignorance about how more than half the population of anywhere, actually lives.

    But really, am writing to thank you for taking Your place and thereby, enabling other women to take theirs.
    From my shamed namesake, to the inestimable Christine de Pisan – via countless – of often ‘silenced’ women both before and since: I chart my v inexpert way through life through learning about the lives of other women ..and in doing so, place myself in history with a context not dictated by, nor confined by, silly billies and criminals.

    Every time there is something relevant to be discussed…and Goodness knows there are too many to count…I want to – and crucially need to, hear other women giving their reasoned, calm, intelligent, honest views.

    Btw – from our quarantine/w a gdn -and to my surprise: I’ve been tuning in to radio 5 live at night because I don’t want to turn away from what’s happening elsewhere. I’m not familiar with the channel and the excerpts of phone- ins I’ve heard are often heart breaking, but seem v carefully managed with intelligent compassion. Thank you all concerned.
    I’d rather remain anonymous….it’s enough of a leap for me to write!

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