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Grow up national media

POSTED June 11, 2010 9:14 p.m.

Most days I am proud to be a member of the media. I believe that newspapers — and other forms of news media — are essential to a healthy democracy. But sometimes the actions of my colleagues make me want to hide my head in the sand and deny that I ever shared the same profession.

CBS, Fox, Newsweek and a host of regional news outlets all proclaimed Tuesday’s primary elections as “Ladies Night.” They attached this moniker to the elections outcomes due to the victories of a host of female candidates including Meg Whitman for the California GOP nomination for governor, Carly Fiorina for the California GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, Nikki Haley for the South Carolina GOP nomination for governor and Incumbent Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s defeat of challenger Bill Halter — as well as a few other unexpected victories for female candidates in the 12 states that held primary elections.

While I am glad that the media noticed the gender of these primary victors, using the name of Kool & The Gang’s 1979 disco song to sum up the elections results was just plain insulting. Saying the words “Ladies Night” invokes images of women wearing short, glittery dresses while dancing in a club.

Party girls were not elected on Tuesday night. American voters went to the polls to elect political leaders who they hope will solve the very serious problems our country faces today.

I understand the copy editor instinct’s to put a headline on a story that is not only appropriate, but also clever. A catchy headline draws in the reader or viewer. Without incentive to read or watch a news story, a reporter’s best work will not be appreciated.

But, come on! No matter how clever a headline is, if it is unduly offensive or flippant a more mundane tag line should be used. These media sources sold their ethics for a few more readers.

How many years will pass before female professionals are given the same respect as their male counterparts?

A mere 50 years ago American citizens were denied access to public drinking fountains and restrooms due to the color of their skin. Today, Barack Obama is the president of the United States.

Women were not given the right to vote until 1920. Ninety years later, female politicians are seen as oddities. They are often judged according to the female archetype the national media has labeled them with, rather than being evaluated on their merits as politicians.

In the 2008 presidential primary, how many times did the national media label Hilary Clinton the ever-serious librarian? Or Sarah Palin a rogue country girl with good legs? Neither of these descriptions tells me what their views were on foreign policy or the economy.

It is time for the country as a whole to grow up and put away their prejudices. To ensure America’s prosperity in the next 100 years, we will need the talents of all our leaders — male and female alike.

I know — in California, at least — that unemployment, ever-diminishing tax revenues and low test scores are problems I want an intelligent, experienced and visionary politician to tackle, not a cast member from “Saturday Night Fever.”

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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