AMANDA FERGUSON in Accidental Theatre Belfast

Monday, October 4, 2021

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I am thrilled to open my media representation interview series - exploring the media landscape, the role of women in the media, marginalised voices, and more – with four women I admire.

Where better to start than with four of our most respected journalists, broadcasters, writers, and commentators.

Our conversation was recorded at the end of August in Accidental Theatre studio in Belfast.


Opening explainer.

4 minutes - Introduction to Susan McKay, Anne Hailes, Fionnuala O Connor & Mary Kelly. And their opening remarks.

15 minutes - Being a mother and a journalist. The importance of vigilance. NI is a patriarchy, suffocating and oppressive. Views on the place we call home and the challenges it presents as journalists. Sectarianism. Being a wee girl in the media.

22 minutes - Media landscape. Data. NUJ memberships in Ireland (both jurisdictions). Stats. Women. Job shares. A precarious living. Male dominated political world. The Troubles. Death knocks. Space.

31 minutes – Being a seasoned/mature/mellowed woman in the media. Be stroppy and difficult. Hard women. Brilliant young women. Making tea and coffee. Arlene says no. Would you ask Ken Maginnis to make a cup of tea? Noticing women. Reading women. Visibility. Who is asked to be on the media? Women’s centres. Reluctance.

38 minutes – Lack of diversity. Manels. Marginalised voices. Negative experiences. Limiting people. Solutions? Legendary women. Mrs Guy. Bring in voices. Confidence building. Holding back. Saying no.

46 minutes – The online world. Abuse. Speaking out. Social media. Misogyny. Anonymous bullies. Good people. Changing the scope of what is news. Staffing of newspapers. Time. Broadening out as we narrow. Opinion.

51 minutes – What would you do differently? Don’t wait until someone else thinks you have value. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Look after each other. Don’t make the story about you. Confessional journalism sidelines? Sports journalism. Women’s brains. Menopause. Scaring the shit out of younger women. Stick to beat women with. Be careful of your ideas. Career, professional, trade or craft?

1 hr – Not competing with others. Solidarity. Mentors. Feedback. Editing. Being yourself. Lyra. Learning from each other.

1 hr 3 minutes – Conclusion. The best thing about being a woman in the media. Women who have problems with male authority figures…


Thanks to the women who took part in this conversation, SCI, Mugshots, Accidental Theatre, Women’s Aid, and you all for watching.


If you liked this group interview you might want to watch this interview with journalism lecturer Maggie Swarbrick:

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