Monday, April 5, 2010

Clairy by Aukje de Vries

Clairy Polak, a woman in her mid fifties anchors a News show called Nova, which is on public TV six evenings a week after the 10 o’clock news bulletin. A very nice woman with wavy grey hair (hurrah for someone who does not dye her hair!), she’s an excellent interviewer. Interviewees cannot get away leaving her questions unanswered. She knows her subjects; she asks very informed questions about any issue under discussion, however complicated, such as the economic situation. With a charming smile on her face, she keeps probing.

I won’t explain to you how public broadcasting works in The Netherlands, it is too complicated. Let it suffice to tell you that it will be reorganized. Another show, News Hour, will replace Nova. Clairy will not be in this programme.I hate to see her go. It will be a loss to public TV and Clairy does not deserve this. Is it because she is an older woman? There are far too few older women on Dutch TV. I Googled her name and read many comments that label her a leftist and therefore want to see her go. I don’t agree; I think her interviews are fair and objective and meet high journalistic standards.

What can we do? I ask my Older Women’s Group: shall we start an e-mail action? All of us want Clairy to stay. I am advised to first find out if Clairy herself would agree with our action. The broadcasting organisation which employs her, says we need not bother, she will be happy if we do so.

So I prepared a message for organisations responsible for the new programme, saying “Clairy must stay.” We sent copies to most everyone we knew and who might be interested in the issue. A nice result is that some people from whom I have not heard in a long time not only forward our message to the broadcasting organisations, but also come back to me with greetings. Others tell me they will ask other organisations to take action as well.

It is not possible to trace how many e-mails have resulted from our action. However, soon we hear the news comes that Clairy will be an interviewer on the new programme. This new assignment is really more along her line than being the anchor woman. In the media it is said this is because of the reactions of the public and of a TV show. Do they mean us? Did the pay attention to our reactions? We will never know, but Clairy, an older woman and an excellent role model, will stay. And that is what we want.

Have you tried to influence public opinion in a similar way? What were your results?

1 comment:

  1. Here in the UK we had a big outcry when older very effective women news anchors were 'let go' by the BBC. Eventually they said they would hire mor older women newscasters for their 'news 24' team but we have yet to see them on our main News programmes. I suppose it is a response but not good enough as far as I am concerned. The CEDAW Committee took the UK government to task on the representation of older women in the media in the UK and asked the government to take action to press for change. We need to do more as NGOs to hold them to account.