Channel 4 newsreader Cathy Newman says public humiliation is the answer for sexist remarks

Broadcaster believes shaming online trolls is the best medicine

The broadcaster Cathy Newman says public humiliation is the best way to deal with sexists, from internet trolls to the BBC commentator John Inverdale.

The Channel 4 news presenter, who is no stranger to sexism herself, warned that sacking someone like Inverdale for his on-air comment that the Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli was “never going to be a looker” would be a mistake.

“If you get too heavy handed you can run into difficulties, and it becomes very much a battle of the sexes, and very negative,” Newman said in an interview with The Independent.

“The public reaction is the best sanction. John Inverdale has been publicly shamed for what he said.”

As the female face of the weeknight news programme, Newman has been a target for online abuse: just last week someone tweeted that he would only watch that evening’s news if she went topless. Her response to being asked to “get your boobs out” was “what I think most women do in this situation: I retweeted him and he got a whole load of flak from other twitter followers.”

She found such abuse “frustrating” but added that it was refreshing to see people like the DJ Lauren Laverne and the writer Caitlin Moran “publicly calling out the trolls who are making women suffer. The best way to tackle these people is to publicly humiliate them, I think.”

Newman, 39, said stories like the one she broke about the former Liberal Democrat chief executive Lord Rennard, who allegedly sexually harassed several women, were all part of the new feminism that was helping to stamp out sexism. “You know that we all have to put up with sexism on a daily basis. But I think there’s a chance to actually change that culture,” she added.

Newman, who has also worked for the Financial Times and The Independent, is a fan of the Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” doctrine that urges women to stand up for themselves in the workplace if they want to get ahead. “It’s not always easy, but I think you do have to lean in. I’ve learnt to lean in. It didn’t come naturally,” she said.

Women, she thinks, need to be “pushy and sharp elbowed” to get ahead, particularly in male-dominated environments such as journalism. For Newman, “leaning in” has included quizzing her then editor why a junior male colleague earned more than she did. His answer? That she didn’t have a family to support or a mortgage to pay. She pointed out that neither did the man in question, winning herself the pay rise.

One consequence of women’s timidity is that they are less willing to come forward as guests on shows like the Channel 4 News or the BBC’s Today programme. Newman admitted she “positively discriminates in favour of women” to counter the natural male-centric bias.

She said it was “about time” the BBC improved the gender balance of its output, pointing to the appointment of Mishal Husain to Today as a good example. She predicted that the BBC would have its first female director-general “in my lifetime”.

Despite her success at work, where she has won several awards for her scoops, Newman, who has daughters aged nine and four, said it was impossible to “have it all”. She said: “I try to have it all. But you can’t. I missed my daughter’s summer show this week because I was doing the programme. I wanted to go to the dress rehearsal but I couldn’t because I was in Kenya [chasing a story about an alleged British paedophile]. But I’m not going to torture myself about it.”

Her husband, a writer, works from home to help with childcare, the upshot of which is that “if the kids wake up at night they don’t call for me; they call for daddy”. The upside is that she gets to go back to sleep.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas