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“I am intrinsically me”: Leeds United TV’s Emma Jones on sexism, social media abuse and self-belief

By Ella Bicknell

Speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, Leeds United TV Presenter Emma Jones today said that social media abuse targeted at her appearance does not bother her.

“People could pull my appearance apart and I honestly wouldn’t care, but if people pulled me apart as a human being or for my work, that would bother me”, she said. 

“I am intrinsically who I am, and my work is something I’ve grafted for years to get to where I am”.

Several studies have shown that female journalists face disproportionate levels of social media abuse and harassment compared to their male counterparts.

A 2016 study that collated over 70 million comments left on The Guardian website revealed that out of the ten most abused contributing journalists, eight of them were women. 

Jones said her sex means she gets an astonishing level of scrutiny.

She said: “There is no room for mistakes as a woman. You see male presenters get away with natural mistakes but as a woman, there is no room for that.”

Responding to a question from a mature student with a daughter looking for sport role models, Jones agreed that the industry needs to do more to promote women in sport.

She praised the increasing media coverage of women’s football, “hoping we’re at a turning point”. 

As the presenter for Netball Nation Podcast, Jones expressed the hope that coverage of women’s sports will extend beyond football, especially to sports popular with girls such as netball, played by 286,000 people in the UK at least twice a month.  

“I am so grateful to the women in sport that paved the way before me but the industry has a long way to go.”

She said that women’s sport needed financial backing to elevate it to an equal level to men’s sport. 

“Unfortunately, it’s a chicken and egg thing. It requires money to get exposure but exposure to get money, but financial backing is the only way they are going to get the levels of exposure that they deserve.”

Jones also told the Leeds Trinity audience that they need to have self-belief to succeed in intimidating industries such as journalism. 

“If you knock on doors loud enough, eventually somebody’s going to open them”.

As a young journalist on work experience, Jones would walk around the station building offering help to everyone from editing jingles to making cups of tea.

“I was so annoying. If I found myself annoying, imagine how annoying I was to everyone else?”

Her persistence helped her secure a presenting opportunity at the station which firmed Jones’ belief that any work experience could be a golden opportunity for an aspiring journalist. 

“It only takes one right-place-right-time moment to set off your career”.

Journalism and Media Week is a Leeds Trinity University event where industry professionals are invited to talk about their careers in Media. 

Livestreams of the events can be accessed via the Leeds Trinity YouTube.

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