The one thing I like about being a freelance journalist is that I pitch stories I want to write. I don’t wait at my desk for an editorial team to tell me what story I have to write.
While that sounds empowering it also means a lot of rejection. Rejection comes with its own pain but having stories rejected that you not only want to tell but feel must be told is the hardest.
Two years ago I learnt of the YWCA Women’s Safety Survey. Knowing from personal experience the change to the East End landscape during the ‘mad march’ weekends I really wanted to tell the story of how it impacted on women’s safety. So I pitched it to a publication I was regularly writing for at the time.
On the day the paper went to print I got a call from the Editor saying they would not run it. He said my statistics were out of date, imploring the reason they were old was because that is all we had. The ABS women’s safety survey was taken in 2006.
Accurate data on the violence against women is hard to come by and is unclear. Last year Anne Summers made the same point at an International Women’s Day breakfast I attended and in opinion pieces.
Whether the fact that SAPOL had called said Editor to raise concerns about my article impacted on his decision remains unclear.
It was pulled.
This year the YWCA conducted its survey again to find out if there has been any change in five years. InDaily covered this and the fact there is a problem with data required to substantiate claims of harassment. As you can see they copped a bit of flack for that. And then we saw something rarely seen in the media – an Editor justifying his position for the choices he made.
Clearly this subject would not go away and here was a chance for me to try and tell the story – again. However this time I would not only follow the survey but go inside the Clipsal 500 and observe the impact on women myself.
I will not lie, it was not easy. Seeing women objectified to promote everything from discounted petrol to Autism awareness was sole destroying. But it made me more determine to tell the other side of what goes on at the Clipsal 500.
Sure not everyone liked it and if they did I would not be doing my job.
I was told after the story went live it overloaded the server. I would love to say it was my great journalism that did that, but I fear it was the title and picture used for the story.
To be honest, I don’t care it made people stop and look. Even if it was to check whether I caught them on camera at the beachware parade or taking flyers from strippers.