Column: This is news, not a beauty pageant

Column: This is news, not a beauty pageant

I have never had anyone call to complain about a photo of a man running for office.

In spite all of our advancements we still look at and judge women differently than men.

At no time was this more apparent to me than during the provincial election, which, this week, should finally be behind us, recounts and all.

I’ve been in the newspaper business for more than a decade and I’m no stranger to angry phone calls. Sometimes we’ve gotten something wrong. Sometimes someone just doesn’t like what a source had to say in an article and the newspaper becomes the target.

But never have I been at such a loss as I was fielding the complaints I got during this last election cycle because we didn’t run pretty enough photos of some of the women candidates.

Oh sure, the people who complained couched it in different terms than that, but that’s still essentially what it boiled down to.

Some of the dissatisfied callers and emailers were men, some were women. I’m positive the reaction was all subconscious.

To put it in perspective, let me contrast this response to the photos we printed by letting you in on the fact that I have never, not once, had a male candidate or anyone else call to complain about a photo of a man running for office.

Let that sink in. Not once in more than 10 years. It’s a difference I find flabbergasting.

Now let me take a minute to let everyone know that we don’t deliberately run bad photos of people.

A number of those who complained about the women’s photos had created (false) narratives in their minds that they then shared with me about how the photo selection (not pretty enough) somehow meant that the newspaper, or me personally, was against the candidate, or didn’t like them for some reason.

First, I didn’t think any of the photos we ran were bad. Second, while we all have our personal preferences, I guarantee you that we’ve never tried to harm a candidate’s chances, especially not through running an unattractive photo of them (subjective).

So no, I didn’t think Sonia Furstenau looked hideous in our front page photo after she won her MLA seat. Nor did Lori Iannidinardo or Eden Haythornthwaite look terrible in photos we used of them at work in the community.

Not only did I not hold any nefarious intentions when I picked the images in question, this is news, people, not a beauty pageant.

It’s long past time that women stopped being judged by a different standard than men based solely on physical attributes.

A big thumbs-up to all of our women candidates for their excellent work.