In a male-dominated industry, The Age boasts three prominent and talented female football journalists. But as their profiles grow and they further establish their careers, they are subjected to more criticism and resistance from the public. It seems female football journalists, even award-winning ones, can’t get big enough to fill their boots.
Footy produces passion so it is only natural those who report on it are going to be divisive – Damian Barrett, Mark ‘Robbo’ Robinson, Mike Sheahan and Robert Walls to name a few. But none garner as strong opposition as Caroline Wilson.
Wilson writes and speaks fearlessly, standing by her words regardless of any (or a lot of) backlash from footy fans. Her strong and – at times – controversial opinions are voiced across three different media platforms. While all footy journalists are met with some opposition, it’s clear that with Wilson it’s personal.
Facebook, Twitter and comment sections are flooded with vitriolic, misogynistic and hate-filled remarks towards AFL’s first full-time female writer. Wilson’s prominence in the world of footy journalism seems to only threaten and fuel her biggest critics.
While her detractors insist on her little knowledge of the game, Wilson has spent 17 years as the chief football writer of The Age, has roles on 3AW, ABC’s Offsiders and Footy Classified, has broken countless news stories and is sought after for her opinion and commentary.
To exist in a male-dominated area of media (which many intelligent and capable females struggle to crack), and to have withstood the intensity of the heat she has been subjected to, for so long must count for something.
Wilson’s awards include:
- AFL Players’ Association Football Writer of the Year (1999)
- Most Outstanding Football and Feature Writer by the AFL Media Association (2000, 2003 and 2005)
- Melbourne Press Club Quill Award (2003)
- The Walkley Award (2013)
- The Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year (2014)
There are two main reasons why Lane appears to be more popular than Wilson: she is less prominent and less threatening. Rather than Wilson’s hard-hitting television personality, footy fans were introduced to Lane as the engaging and bubbly presenter on Channel 10’s light-hearted Before the Game.
While Lane has worked at The Age for ten years and been involved with ABC Radio’s AFL coverage, her focus on news and her less controversial views when it does come to opinion have helped her avoid the ire of footy fans. Even so, Lane is often underrated as a journalist.
However, like Wilson, criticism towards Lane has grown along with her profile. In 2013, Lane’s addition to Channel 7’s football coverage got many fans talking. She seemed uncomfortable and out of place among her male co-presenters, who talked over her, dismissed her and ignored her.
Lane was viewed as the token female on the show and many viewers mistook her lack of opportunity for a lack of knowledge.
Lane’s awards include:
- AFL Players’ Association’s Football Writer of the Year (2007)
- Quill Award (2010)
- AFL Coaches Association’s Media Prize (2011)
Quayle is generally the most popular and least offensive out of the three female football journalists. Having joined The Age in 1999 as a cadet, Quayle began covering football two years later and became The Sunday Age’s chief football writer in 2007.
She may have avoided the scrutiny of Wilson and Lane so far, but this could be due to the fact that her media presence is mostly contained to print and she focuses on less controversial topics.
Quayle’s bread and butter is junior football and the AFL draft. She is an expert in this field and has even written two books on the draft: ‘The Draft: inside the AFL’s search for talent’ and ‘The Draftees’, the latter to be released this month.
Quayle’s awards include:
- Australian Football Media Association Award (2005 and 2006)
- Grant Hattam Trophy (2009)
- Australian Football Media Association’s Outstanding Feature Writer (2010)