I welcome Robin Scott-Elliott’s spread on women’s sport (25 October), but he needs to look closer to home with regard to media coverage. Pointing the finger at broadcasters is hypocritical in the extreme when on the day of his article, The Independent’s pages were again devoid of reporting on women’s sport.
An obvious candidate would have been something on Scotland’s Euro 2013 qualifier, an exciting match worthy of a few paragraphs. But no, the outcome wasn’t even listed in the classified football results.
So, what was deemed more important by your sports editor? It was a big night in the (men’s) Champions League, sure. The Tour de France route announcement was certainly worthy. But the rugby match won’t be played till 11 November. And the cricket treatment seemed excessive when there were five more days before England takes the field.
When it comes to reporting on women’s sport, The Independent has its own part to play in keeping the spirit of London 2012 alive.
Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, said, “We have a media that values male achievements over [those of] females and a prevailing culture where girls grow up wanting to be thin rather than active and healthy. This has to change or the Olympic legacy will have failed for women”.
We must not let the significant achievement, born out of the Olympic legacy, of women in sport go to waste. But that’s what will happen if the Government doesn’t put greater investment into female sport.
We must also address the lack of TV air-time given to female sport. The cultural shift required to upgrade women’s sport will happen only if broadcasters show female sport on mainstream TV in the same way they show male sport.
Mary Honeyball MEP
(Lab, London), London W9
As a former England Women’s cricketer, and now a headteacher, your article had me cheering and whooping: finally, recognition that the media has to take significant responsibility for the woeful lack of positive sporting female role models and therefore the criminally low levels of participation among girls in sport.
Enough of their corporate cries of “But we are only delivering what our readers want”; time for them to admit that they are the masters (sadly), not the servants, of readers’ palates. It is the media who peddle the images of “female perfection”, making our youngsters reach for the weighing scales and mirrors, rather than their trainers and a sweat towel.
In education, we understand the power of influence; time for the media, in all its forms, to model a healthier stance.
Head, Cheadle Hulme School, Cheshire
The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) is right: women’s sport receives far less media coverage and commercial sponsorship than men’s. It doesn’t help when the minuscule coverage refers to sportswomen as “girls”. Sportsmen are seldom called “boys”.
But the WSFF is just as guilty: its campaign this summer to celebrate female sporting achievement at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics was called “Go Girl”.
Dr Alex May
Call for fair play as Savile scandal rages in media
This sodding Jimmy Savile business is starting to get up my nose. It’s taking on all the elements of a medieval witch-hunt. He’s been accused; therefore he must be guilty. So it’s hey ho, out with the pitchforks and flaming torches.
All we have, at present, are a series of, as yet, unproved allegations. Some, even many, may be genuine, but the evidence needs to be weighed and analysed calmly, with a degree of scepticism.
In our justice system, the element of doubt must weigh towards the accused. Remember that it’s easy to accuse someone who’s not around to answer the accusations. I think that the charities that have benefited from Savile’s work should be ashamed of themselves to abandon their one-time patron so readily.
Also before you try the accused, have a look at some of the accusers. There are quite a few vested interests out there, just salivating to destroy the credibility of the BBC etc. OK everybody, call me what you want, but someone has to stand up for common justice and fair play.
David R Williams
Llanduudno Junction, Conwy
There is an irony about the BBC and Jimmy Savile. When you apply for a grant from BBC’s Children in Need you have to supply reams of child protection policies, yet Savile was able to roam and abuse at the very heart of the BBC. Every charity has to have an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check for any volunteer working with a child. Did Stoke Mandeville do this and if not, why not? Will anyone be prosecuted for this?
The stench of Establishment hypocrisy is overpowering. David Cameron pledges that it must never happen again. We know that similar abuses of power will almost certainly recur, with the same promises that it will never happen again.
Missing are concrete proposals which challenge the citadels of power that allowed Savile to roam free. Five police forces were made aware of complaints against Savile and did nothing. That is systemic failure.
The BBC should be publicly accountable rather than a plaything of the great and good. When the BBC tried to assert its independence over the Iraq war, it was squashed by Blair and Lord Hutton. During the reign of Mark Thompson, it became a faithful lapdog to those in power. In 2006, Thompson personally vetoed a Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza as the BBC’s coverage became overtly pro-Israeli.
If Cameron is serious, then he will ensure that his Government’s proposals for charging those prepared to blow the whistle will be dropped and the whistleblowing legislation strengthened.
CRB checks were introduced in March 2002. Given that I have not heard any mention from the bureau, does this prove, either way, that a check on Savile would have proved nothing, or the opposite.
And the showing of the tributes at Christmas, make the presenter look stupid, in the cold light of day.
Cornwall fights second homes
Your article about the blight of second homes in Cornwall (23 October) misses the real tragedy. Second homes are unquestionably anti-social in a country where many have no homes and the environmental damage of building homes for two-week use is offensive.
But ancient Cornwall is not just another “English” county. It remains a Celtic region with its own language and culture which, although British, is defiantly not English. Second-home ownership is turning many communities into enclaves of the non-Cornish rich for a few weeks a year. That is the tragedy.
Such owners may contribute to the local economy, but so do other activities such as incinerators and we Cornish think the price is too high. Far too high. A 90 per cent rule for Cornish housing would be applauded by those Cornish surviving the second-home tsunami.
Hamish McRae (23 October) suggests that ‘There are no easy answers to the “Cornwall problem”. There is an answer.
We belong to a time-share organisation which has more than 50 locations around Europe, mainly away from the big cities. There are usually 50 or more apartments or cottages at each resort thus we have a choice of 3,000-plus places to stay.
Out of season, there are “points” inducements to book a holiday; occupancy levels seldom fall below 50 per cent. Local shops remain open due to regular trade from us visitors.
Our financial outlay is considerably less than buying and maintaining a property. The final bonus is the chance to explore more widely.
East Grinstead, West Sussex
Please explain ‘growth’ for me
Just for clarity, can someone tell me how banding all the Olympic ticket sales into the last economic quarter, translates into growth? People sitting around watching sport is growth?
Sounds as fanciful as that other old chestnut, that the cost of living has gone down, because last year’s fuel rises are now more than a year old, and fallen out of the official index. Really? They haven’t fallen out of my cost of living. Who dreams up all this jargon?
It’s not a pension. It’s a ‘benefit’
I was surprised when I received my pension for the first time from the Department of Work and Pensions because it is called my “benefit”. I have never claimed any “benefits” and I had assumed that I would receive a state pension because I have paid into the state pension, graduated pension and Serps for 45 years. Now I am told to work on or I shall not receive it. What happened to all the money I paid into the government scheme?
It is time to allow prisoners to vote (letters, 25 October), if merely to put an end to the ludicrous situation where a prisoner can stand for election and become an MP, but is still not allowed to vote.
The other half?
In a letter to one of his former teachers, Education Secretary Michael Gove described himself as cocksure (letters, 25 October). As someone who works in education, I can guarantee him that most of the profession feel he’s half-right.
East Boldon, Tyne & Wear
Approaching my mid-sixties, I accept that my memory is not what it was. But, given the inability of senior politicians and major media figures to recall their involvement in significant recent national events, I’ve decided that I’m actually doing rather well.
Congratulations to The Independent for the brilliant headline “Unishambles” (25 October). It made me smile, and it’s on a par with “SuperCalyGoBallisticCelticAreAtrocious”.
Don’t count on it
There is a time-honoured method of avoiding the number 13 next year. I propose that we refer to the year not as 2013 but as 2012a.
Taxed by wrap
If Vodafone have the money to pay for a four-page wrap-around, I would rather they used it to reduce my tariff, or to pay more tax.
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey