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Democratic participation and public access broadcasting: Caller Perspectives on Election Call
Unformatted Document Text:  9 I thought that like with these phone-in programmes they make up their minds, you know, a long time before and even though they say phone in they’ve probably made up their mind about what questions they’re going to ask, what listeners they’re going to call back. (Diana) One thing that did surprise me as well, I have to say, was that I expected a question like mine not to be considered, bearing in mind who I was speaking to and what the subject matter was. And the BBC currently having a reputation, particularly internationally as being a little bit on – well the media is generally leaning towards Labour. (Steve) Traditionally, Election Call has featured far fewer women than men callers and, after a report on the 1997 Election Call series (Coleman, 1999) which brought attention to this fact, the BBC suggested that the 2001 series would actively seek out women callers. In the event, the ratio of women to men callers was still 30:70 and the ratio of women to men callers who were successful was the same, suggesting that there was no obvious attempt to either over- or under- represent women in the successful line-up. When women callers were asked why they thought that fewer women than men participated in the programme, many said they didn’t know or hadn’t really noticed: given that these women had taken the trouble to call in, it was perhaps difficult for them to think of reasons for non-participation. However, of those (58%) women who did express a view on this issue, the most frequently suggested reasons were lack of confidence (50%) and ’too busy’ (32%), this latter usually supplemented by the suggestion that women would be taking children to school or going to work. Women don't know that it's on and available to them. The media is full of male journalists and male-determined issues. You need to have certain amount of assertiveness to go on a phone-in: women don't come forward. (Tina) I think women are more diffident about putting themselves forward. They fear perhaps, that they don't sound particularly impressive in the media and so on and perhaps they don't get as many opportunities in ordinary life to stand up in front of an audience to express themselves. (Ann)

Authors: Ross, Karen.
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9
I thought that like with these phone-in programmes they make up their minds, you know, a long
time before and even though they say phone in they’ve probably made up their mind about what
questions they’re going to ask, what listeners they’re going to call back. (Diana)
One thing that did surprise me as well, I have to say, was that I expected a question like mine not
to be considered, bearing in mind who I was speaking to and what the subject matter was. And the
BBC currently having a reputation, particularly internationally as being a little bit on – well the
media is generally leaning towards Labour. (Steve)
Traditionally, Election Call has featured far fewer women than men callers and, after a
report on the 1997 Election Call series (Coleman, 1999) which brought attention to this fact, the
BBC suggested that the 2001 series would actively seek out women callers. In the event, the
ratio of women to men callers was still 30:70 and the ratio of women to men callers who were
successful was the same, suggesting that there was no obvious attempt to either over- or under-
represent women in the successful line-up. When women callers were asked why they thought
that fewer women than men participated in the programme, many said they didn’t know or hadn’t
really noticed: given that these women had taken the trouble to call in, it was perhaps difficult for
them to think of reasons for non-participation. However, of those (58%) women who did express
a view on this issue, the most frequently suggested reasons were lack of confidence (50%) and
’too busy’ (32%), this latter usually supplemented by the suggestion that women would be taking
children to school or going to work.
Women don't know that it's on and available to them. The media is full of male journalists and
male-determined issues. You need to have certain amount of assertiveness to go on a phone-in:
women don't come forward. (Tina)
I think women are more diffident about putting themselves forward. They fear perhaps, that they
don't sound particularly impressive in the media and so on and perhaps they don't get as many
opportunities in ordinary life to stand up in front of an audience to express themselves. (Ann)


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