News Corp editors directed a photographer to snap “yummy mummies” and “frowned upon” pictures of minority communities, a Senate inquiry has heard.
Veteran News Corp photographer Anna Rogers delivered a blistering takedown of her former employer in an appearance before a Senate hearing into media diversity on Friday, alleging the publishing giant has a toxic workplace culture and has underpaid staff.
Ms Rogers claimed the acting picture editor at the Sunday Mail told her in 2011 not to take photos of “pigs in lipstick”, requiring she avoid snapping women who were overweight, older than 35, poorly dressed, or missing teeth.
“This was extremely derogatory to women, but to keep my job I had to apply this test,” the former photo journalist said.
“I was encouraged to take photos of attractive women with instructions like, get a photo of a yummy mummy, or get a photo of a pretty backpacker,” Ms Rogers said about her time working at the Cairns Post in Queensland.
I was never, ever, directed to get a photo of an attractive man.’’
Ms Rogers also said her News Corp editors didn’t want photos of Australians from minority communities unless it was an “ethnic specific story”.
Now a communications officer, Ms Rogers was a photographer with News Corp for 29 years, with her work appearing in The Australian, Courier Mail, and Cairns Post.
She claimed News Corp, Australia’s largest publisher, discriminates against women, setting unachievable targets that pit journalists against one another.
“Emphasis on clickbait has created a toxic culture where staff feel intimidated and bullied, and many are just waiting for the next axe to fall and wondering if they will still have a job,” she said.
Women are treated particularly badly, and are paid less purely because they are women.’’
Ms Rogers also alleged News Corp underpaid staff entitlements, including penalty rates, and forced staff to sign contracts allowing it to spy on them.
“The contracts that we all had to sign gave the company the right to listen into our phone conversations and you couldn’t get a job with News Corp without signing that,” she said.
The Senate inquiry into media diversity is examining how the concentration of media ownership in Australia undermines democracy and warps public perceptions.
Retired journalist Tony Koch, who has won five Walkley Awards and worked at News Corp for more than 30 years, told the hearing on Friday that his former employer’s attacks on public broadcaster the ABC were “appalling”.
“If we suffer the degrading of the ABC in particular in Australia there’s a national security issue that we’ve got here,” he said.
“You’ve got people’s lives and people’s livelihoods at stake because they’re not able to get a true and honest service that they deserve.”
News Corp has been contacted for comment.