Lisa Wilkinson has congratulated the new “fab” all-women Today showteam in which dumped star Karl Stefanovic is replaced by Deborah Knight
Lisa Wilkinson has congratulated the new “fab” all-women Today showteam in which dumped star Karl Stefanovic is replaced by Deborah Knight – but she is also steamed about a gender-equality misstep in the reporting of the announcement.
Wilkinson, who quit Today in 2017 has questioned “why, oh why oh why” journalists need to point out the age of Knight and Georgie Gardner as well as their roles as mothers.
“Warmest congratulations to the fab new team just announced,” Wilkinson wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday at the announcement of the breakfast show’s all-female pairing of Knight and existing host Gardner.
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Warmest congratulations to the fab new team just announced for @thetodayshow of @georgiegardner9 @deborah_knight @tomsteinfort and @tonyjones9 . I sincerely wish them all the very best in the Breakfast TV wars ahead. But as my media studies student daughter noted to me, why oh why oh why, in the reporting of the new team do the ages of the women need to be pointed out, while the ages of the men are clearly regarded as irrelevant? Similarly, Deb being a mum-of-three is considered significant, but Tony being a dad isn’t? I don’t understand. And we obviously have a long way to go when it comes to #genderequity.
“I sincerely wish them all the best in the breakfast wars ahead.
“But as my media studies student daughter noted to me, why oh why oh why, in the reporting of the new team do the ages of the women need to be pointed out while the men’s don’t?
Wilkinson, 59, also noted reporters pointed out Knight is a “mum of three”, but would not refer to sports presenter Tony Jones, 57, as a “dad”.
“I don’t understand,” Wilkinson wrote.
“We obviously have a long way to go when it comes to gender equity.”
Public relations professional Nicole Reaney of InsideOut PR told The New Daily she agreed there were gender inequality issues in the reporting of the announcement.
“Unfortunately, it’s habitual that reporting has continued this way and is so stereotypical,” Ms Reaney said.
She said the all-women Channel Nine line-up was “risky” like any change and would sink or swim depending on the hosts creating new connections with existing and new viewers.
“Maintaining some stability with Georgie Gardner is vital to having some consistency,” Ms Reaney said.
“Certainly Karl [Stefanovic] built a following over his many years, but no doubt the decisions would not have been taken lightly, market tested and ratings driven.”
The team of two women is a first for Australian breakfast television and is being seen as a daring move by Channel 9 executives.
The network’s flagship breakfast program suffered flagging ratings in 2018, with Stefanovic’s personal life making headlines for much of the year, and his “brand” suffering from his separation from wife Cassandra Thorburn to marry Jasmine Yarbrough, 34.
As soon as Stefanovic, 44, was moved on from Today, several candidates had been mooted as a possible replacement, including 2GB radio host Ben Fordham, Adelaide presenter and some-time Today fill-in Brenton Ragless, Ten’s Sarah Harris, The Project host Waleed Aly and Knight.
Most pundits thought a female duo was an unlikely prospect.
Nine’s breakfast TV boss Steven Burling, who took over last month, said the decision to put Gardner and Knight together was not by design or a tokenistic gesture, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported.
“The rationale for us for two female hosts is simply having the two most capable people at the desk as part of our core team,” he said.
Super excited to be co-hosting Today Show from Jan 14th with @deborah_knight and to have @tomsteinfort on the desk to keep us honest! Good mix of news, sport, entertainment & high jinks courtesy of @StevenBurling #iwakeupwithtoday— Georgie Gardner (@GeorgieG) January 5, 2019
“We didn’t think it was a statement. We didn’t think it was time to have a female duo hosting Today; it was about having our dream team who we wanted sitting there.”
Burling said the group were “serious journalists but also fun personalities, Australia will love waking up with them in 2019”.
Knight, 46, is a mother of three who has served as a fill-in and Weekend Today host since joining the network in 2011.