How NOT to write an opinion piece

Geoffrey Barker is a retired journalist, published author and fellow at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Barker’s specialty is defence studies.

For those living under a rock, Mr Barker penned an opinion piece this week for Fairfax which many consider to be full of blatant stereotypes about women journalists. Readers, please take two minutes to read that article which has been condemned as click-bait.

In order to attract attention, opinion pieces like those are usually designed to be controversial and confrontational. Invariably there will be segments of the audience that will disagree or walk away deeply offended. It’s not easy to write such a piece and anonymous commentators can be vicious in their reaction.

Whilst doing hard labour as a journalism undergraduate, this blogger observed that journalism courses are often full of what may be considered physically attractive young women. In many instances, the bulk of the candidates for the qualifications are women. It’s naive to assume that looks do not play a role in obtaining on-camera roles.

But by Mr Barker’s logic, physical attractiveness and intellect (&/or skill) are mutually exclusive. Mr Barker offers no evidence to support his theory. Unfortunately, his article comes across as sham elitist. The inference is that any idiot with a pretty face (&/or other visible assets) can successfully climb the ranks of television journalism. Remember that journalism is a profession in ruinous decline – ensuring the competition for employment is fiercer than ever.

Sexist © 2013 Outtacontext

One of those offended by Mr Barker’s remarks was Ten Late News journalist Hermione Kitson (featured in the unrelated video below) who must be a vacuous dill, according to Mr Barker’s theory. How does one come to this conclusion? Ms Kitson was:

  • a Media/Communications undergrad (Sydney University);
  • selected for an ABC internship &
  • ranked #70 on Maxim Australia’s Hot 100 list (2012).

Damnit, she almost passed Mr Barker’s test to qualify as a serious journalist. Her institution is relevant since Mr Barker takes issue with graduates from ‘undistinguished universities’ and even worse ‘media studies’ graduates with mere ‘diplomas’. One can only imagine what Mr Barker thinks of those who took cadet-ships straight out of high school!

High calbre journalism alumni (including Denton) have been emanating from Bathurst’s Charles Sturt University, one of the new (non-standstone) breeds of progressive regional institution for decades.

Sadly being beautiful precludes the occurrence of intelligence or skill in the journalist. Mr ‘progressive’ Barker makes life much simpler. What a national treasure.

Female journalists (from both public and commercial networks) across the country have savagely vented their disgust on fora such as Twitter. Many websites and newspapers have attempted to debunk Mr Barker’s flawed logic. But here is one of the best; because laughing at this nonsense is perhaps the best strategy in deciphering its message:

…Even if you’re feeling generous this morning, you can’t deny that what [Mr Barker] pulled out of his butt instead was one of the most demeaning, belittling, misogynistic pieces of crap that’s ever been printed in a major newspaper.

In closing, let’s provide Mr Barker with an opportunity to have the last word:

Somebody needs to explain to [these young women] that the world is not created anew every day, that there is little that is new under the sun, and that restraint and curiosity can be useful journalistic tools. They might also be directed to ABC and SBS TV where they can find role models whose outstanding work shows how the job should be done.

Oh no, there is a problem. The hotties have infected the beloved ABC too, Mr Barker. And that can only mean one thing, inherent stupidity. Of course!

Believe or not, Mr Barker is capable of composing sensible prose on public policy as a columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

This is a revised version of the article originally written on Thursday May 2nd, in both composition and links.

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