A former News Corp photographer has accused the organisation of fostering a “sexist” and “toxic” work culture.
Anna Rogers gave the devastating testimony to a parliamentary inquiry into media diversity recently.
News Corp photographer ordered to not take pics of ‘pigs in lipsticks’
Rogers spent more than two decades working for News Corp newspapers, including The Australian, The Courier-Mail and The Cairns Post.
She said in 2000, a picture editor at Queensland’s Sunday Mail ordered her not to take pictures of “pigs in lipstick” for the social pages.
Rogers said the term referred to middle-aged women and also to those who may be overweight or not conventionally attractive.
“I was encouraged to seek out attractive women to photograph to ‘get a better run’ in the Courier-Mail,” she said.
“This meant the photo would run in the earlier pages of the paper if the subject was attractive.”
‘Extremely derogatory to women’
She described the attitudes of senior staff as “extremely derogatory to women” but said she had to comply with directions from editors.
“To keep my job, I had to apply this test which meant that women who were over 50, were overweight, were not photographed for the of the paper.
“Whilst employed at the Cairns Post 2011-2020 I was encouraged to take photos of attractive young women, with instructions such as, ‘Get a photo of a yummy mummy,’ or, ‘Get a photo of a pretty tourist.’
“Again, there was the explanation that a photo of an attractive person would get a better run in the paper.
“I feel that this emphasis on the appearance of women has diminished the chance of being treated equally to men in the media.
“There was never a direction to get a photo of a ‘handsome man’.
“I believe this emphasis on women’s looks has fostered sexism in our society.
“As a woman working in the media, the emphasis on the appearance of women made me feel compromised and uncomfortable.”
Men promoted over women
Rogers also accused News Corp of sex discrimination by consistently promoting men over women.
She said new subscription targets created a toxic “Game of Thrones” style competition between journalists to get the most clicks on stories.
“I believe that the clickbait culture creates a toxic culture where staff get intimidated and bullied,” she said.
Phone calls monitored by management
Disturbingly, Rogers also said the company requires staff to sign contracts permitting management to listen to their phone calls.
“The contract that we all had to sign gave the company the right to listen into our phone conversations,” she said.
“And you couldn’t get a job with News Corp without signing that.”
She also said the company failed to provide training for dangerous assignments such as bushfires and cyclones.
Furthermore, she said management failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment.
The Senate inquiry came about as a result of a petition launched my former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
He is calling for a Royal Commission into Rupert Murdoch and New Corp and their influence in Australia.
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