The women seeking to restore trust in the media

Posted 12 March 2018

Five of the brightest female minds in media came together on International Women’s Day to answer one simple question with a plethora of complex answers: “How do we restore trust in the media?”

We kicked off International Women’s Day 2018 surrounded by some of the media’s best and brightest women, both on our panel and in the audience, of our breakfast event, generously hosted for us by Ogilvy UK in their spectacular auditorium at Sea Containers House.

The five inspirational, disruptive women on the panel were drawn from all corners of the media industry. Importantly, they brought a diverse range of insights and experiences to the discussion from influencing tech giants and global brands, to navigating sticky political situations and, being the subject of unwelcome tabloid scrutiny.

Introducing our panel of wonder women

Media Trust CEO Su-Mei Thompson hosted:

  • Munroe Bergdorf, Model and Activist
  • Justine Roberts, Founder and CEO, Mumsnet and Gransnet
  • Ayesha Hazarika, Former Political Adviser turned Columnist, Broadcaster and Comedian
  • Alison Lomax, Director, Lifestyle Retail, Google
  • Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President, Ogilvy Noor
Media Trust CEO Su-Mei Thompsons stands up to kick off the discussion.

Media Trust CEO, Su-Mei Thompson kicks off the discussion.

Can the sector resolve the issues it’s facing?

Our own CEO, Su-Mei Thompson opened the event by celebrating the positive role of the UK media industry in producing Oscar worthy entertainment, informing and changing perceptions, holding institutions to account, connecting people and mobilising communities. But in the wake of events like Brexit and Grenfell, she stressed how the media has also appeared out of touch with local issues and communities across Britain. Added to this, there is the increasing concern about the influence wielded by social media networks, and the continuing news about sexual harassment, pay discrimination and the lack of diversity across the sector.

It is not unsurprising then that the latest Edelman Trust Barometer found that trust in the media is at its lowest level in history. Lower even than trust in Government, business and NGOs. She asked the panel to comment on who, how, what and when the sector can do to resolve the big challenges around provenance, transparency and ethics.

“Muslim women are people like everyone else, they go shopping, they’re mums and they want their stories told.”

Shelina Janmohamed Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President, Ogilvy Noor

Shelina Janmohamed, VP at Ogilvy Noor, the world’s first bespoke consultancy focusing on Muslim consumers, shared valuable insights on how Muslims are represented in British media: “My work is around engaging Muslim audiences, it’s a group that feels massively under served and stereotyped, but makes up a disproportionate part of the global conversation.” She added: “Muslim women are people like everyone else, they go shopping, they’re mums and they want their stories told.”

Speaking directly to the mostly female audience, she urged women to embrace their own experiences and to be empathetic to other stereotyped communities: “We all know how it feels to be poorly depicted as women – we need to apply that feeling to all marginalised audiences.”

Alison, Shelina and Justine on the panel

Alison, Shelina and Justine discuss their thoughts on women and the media.

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts shared her experiences of running a platform for millions of mothers: “Our users trust the advice they get on Mumsnet, it comes from real people with real experience” and “Anonymity allows our users to be truthful and honest, letting them have difficult conversations.”

Speaking of her latest venture Gransnet, Justine revealed that, “Advertising toward older women is terrible, it’s all cruises and stair lifts – when what older women are really talking about is sex, politics and fashion!”

“Equality and diversity are on the agenda in a way that’s bigger than ever before but there’s still more to do.”

Justine Lomax Alison Lomax, Director, Lifestyle Retail, Google

As a senior leader at one of the world’s most influential tech companies, Alison Lomax re-iterated the responsibility that big businesses have toward their users and how important it is to build trust. She also highlighted the issue of gender imbalance in boardrooms and executive teams: “Equality and diversity are on the agenda in a way that’s bigger than ever before but there’s still more to do.”

She went on to speak about the role everyone has to play in creating a diverse and inclusive environment, insisting that, “it’s essential men are engaged in change.”

Ayesha Hazarika talks about her time in Westminster as a political advisor.

Former political advisor turned columnist and stand-up comedian, Ayesha Hazarika shared her experience of working in male dominated Westminster. She emphasised the fact that women were often absent from the high level meetings where key decisions were made and highlighted the importantance of diversity: “If the people in the room are male, pale and stale – there’s a problem.”

Munroe Bergdorf

Munroe Bergdorf shares her experience with the audience.

Model and activist Munroe Bergdorf openly shared her recent experience of enduring tabloid and social media abuse. She re-iterated to the audience the difficulties LGBT+ people continue to face. Her closing call to action for the audience was poignant, simple and heartfelt particularly on such a significant day. She simply encouraged them to: “Stand for something and know your worth.”

A massive thank you to all of our panelists, attendees and supporting partners who helped Media Trust deliver such an inspiring event. Buoyed up by the success of the morning, the Media Trust team left the Ogilvy building and headed over to Google’s Digital Academy as they turned their attention to our second event of the day: Women’s Voices.

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