Sledge of the Day – Mark Jennings

Janet Wilson has had her annual whinge about all the “tits and teeth” on television.

In her blog Adjust Your Set, former reporter Janet Wilson gives rival stations and her old bosses TVNZ and TV3 a serve, saying they are guilty of hiring pretty, young females for their looks and not their news-sense.

“They’re not there because they can do the job better than anyone else; sniff a story out at ten paces or craft a yarn that makes us think,” said Wilson.

“They’re there because they simply LOOK good. Try contrasting that with female reporters in the American networks who aren’t considered up-to-speed journalistically until they’re approaching middle-age.”

Just one TVNZ reporter, Christchurch-based Charlotte Bellis, who was schooled in journalism in the United States, escapes Wilson’s tirade.

Bellis, Wilson says, “seems to have got off her chuff and stopped the tits-and-teeth smirking and got out there and told me something I hadn’t heard before … after all, it is news.”

“The rest belong to that inglorious group, the Pick Me Tribe. These are the prancers who endlessly pick up stories from the front page of that day’s Herald and simperingly regurgitate it on camera.”

She also cut loose at TV3.

TV3 fared little better and in Wilson’s blog she mentions how it was suggested to highly experienced senior current affairs journalist Melanie Reid that she should consider a behind-the-scenes role as she might be a little “old” to be on camera.

She said things were “even worse” on the show she used to front, Nightline.

“The 20th anniversary show highlighted a trail of bland female presenters, (oh, and one uptight Old Trout, me) who looked fabulous but whose journalism for the most part (notable exception, incumbent Rachel Smalley) was entirely forgettable.”

Cue Mark Jennings and his sledge of the day.

But Mark Jennings, TV3’s director of news, said his hiring policy had not changed in his 16 years on the job.

He said TV3 had just one blonde reporter in its Auckland newsroom, “And Simon Shepherd is a very competent journalist”.

“Nobody has ever got a job here because they are either good looking or blonde,” said Mr Jennings.

“Journalism comes first, second and third … looks and hair colour are not even considered.”

Mr Jennings said Wilson’s comments must have been aimed at One News.

“After all, she is an ‘attractive blonde’ but it didn’t enter my thinking when I made her our Nightline presenter many years ago … her reporting and presenting skills got her that job.”



– NZ Herald

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.