10 things we learned at Women in Media

Much was learned at the fourth annual Women In Media (WIM) conference at Ballybunion in Kerry at the weekend

The annual Women in Media event at Kilcooly’s Country House Hotel, Ballybunion, Co Kerry. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

The annual Women in Media event at Kilcooly’s Country House Hotel, Ballybunion, Co Kerry. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

 

Much was learned at the fourth annual Women In Media (WIM) conference at Ballybunion in Kerry at the weekend. Amongst the chats, panels, speeches and recollections, here are 10 Things We Learned.

Election sexism
Speaking about the heightened sexism and misogyny female politicians experience during an election campaign, Joan Burton singled out an item during The Late Late Show on February as particularly hurtful, where behavioural psychologist Dr Peter Collett was invited to dissect and interpret the body language and gestures of four party leaders; Enda Kenny, Burton, Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams. Burton said Dr Collett interpreted a “lip gesture” as a sign of early childhood rejection, which was especially insensitive to her as an adopted person. She said the presenter Ryan Tubridy “seemed to find the idea amusing,” while Burton said, “I thought it was vulgar, crude, and demeaning.”

Sometimes the best scenes happen by chance
The producer of Rebellion, Catherine Magee, recalled a shot on set in Dublin Castle. With time running out, there were just a few minutes to get a key scene where Sarah Greene’s character May was to remove a document from the castle, bring it outside, walk to another location around the corner, and look at the stolen document in panic and stress. But squeezed for time, Magee needed Greene to articulate all of this in her face in one shot. The resulting scene, with May striding out of the castle document in hand, ended up being one of the most powerful in the RTE series. It was a great piece of troubleshooting due to time constraints, executed by an extraordinary actor.

Women going to games
On the sports panel on Sunday, we learned that 17% of women have attended a national/international sports event in the course of the last year compared to 30% of men.

Katie Holly’s foray into journalism
At one point in her career, Katie Holly, Managing Director of Blinder Films, thought she might want to be a journalist. She wrote a piece about the death of Kurt Cobain, which Hotpress published. We’d very much like to read that!

Aoife Stokes on how leaving things can work out well
Claire Byrne Live producer, the brilliant Aoife Stokes, spoke candidly about the peaks and troughs of her career, where sometimes things not working out as planned can actually be a catalyst for success. She left UCD and worked in McDonalds for a year, which ended up with her studying journalism. Then she was a subeditor in The Irish Times for 11 months, and when that didn’t work out, she got a job freelancing for Liveline. Stokes’ honesty about her career trajectory was an excellent example of how most successful people in media don’t have a clear, obstacle-free path.

Going local digitally worked for RTE during #GE16
Patricia O’Callaghan of RTE gave an excellent presentation on the station’s online coverage of the election. While online is often seen as a “big picture” take on things, O’Callaghan highlighted how RTE successfully “went local”, with 40 Twitter accounts for each constituency, constituency hashtags tailored to people following tallies and count results locally, and constituency profiles informing voters. RTE had 24 million page views on digital platforms on results weekend.

Twitter as the new parish pump
Julie Dilger, Communications Manager at Twitter spoke about how Twitter is both the new parish pump and the new public space, both a “door opener” and “a leveller”. With Ireland having one of the highest uses per capita of Twitter in the world, Dilger said that in the first 48 hours of the election being called - an announcement that was first made on Twitter - there were 10.8 million views of tweets related to #GE16.

The Facebook stats stack up
Niamh Sweeney of Facebook put three bald and bold stats in front of the WIM audience. There are 2.5 million people on Facebook in Ireland, 2.2 million of those using Facebook on mobile, and 2.1 million voters in #GE16. Sweeney also said that on average, people check their phones 120 times a day, and spend 55 minutes on Facebook. Who did she single out as one of the politicians who used the platform successfully during the general election? Mary Lou McDonald, who routinely got 20,000 views for her daily videos.

Louise Ní Fhiannachta is one to watch
The Irish Times Women’s Podcast named director Louise Ní Fhiannachta as the recipient of the inaugural Irish Times Women’s Podcast Woman To Watch Award in partnership with the Women In Media conference. She recently directed Eipic for TG4, a critically acclaimed fast-paced teenage musical drama, which marked her out as an exceptionally creative and inventive new force in television.

Mary Maher broke down barriers
One of the most inspiring moments of the weekend was when Olivia O’Leary presented the Mary Cummins Award for Women of Outstanding in Media to Mary Maher, which was accepted on her behalf by Miriam O’Callaghan who read out a speech from Maher. But it was O’Leary’s recollections of the Woman’s Page of the Irish Times, the barriers Maher broke down for O’Leary and other journalists, as well as O’Leary showing the gathered audience an original copy of the landmark Women’s Liberation Movement feminist manifesto Change Or Chains, that truly inspired.

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