The ABC broadcast a sports show with an all female panel and the world didn't explode
By
Ann Odong

20 Jun 2016 - 7:26 AM  UPDATED 20 Jun 2016 - 7:19 AM

The ABC TV show Offsiders has long been a staple of the sporting media landscape.  

This Sunday it created history when for the first time in its 10 years on air, the panel featured three female sports journalists; Caroline Wilson, Georgina Robinson and Mel McLaughlin.  

While the move is to be roundly applauded, it is significant that it has taken 10 years to happen considering the abundance of qualified and intelligent female journalists.   

All three on journalists who joined host Gerard Whateley are well credentialed.  The Age's Caroline Wilson is arguably the best AFL writer in the country, while the Sydney Morning Herald's Georgina Robinson is widely regarded for her work covering Rugby Union and Seven News' Mel McLaughlin is fast becoming one of the top sports journalists and presenters in the country.  

Although to be fair to the ABC, well before other stations booked female panelists, the ABC have had a regular female presence on their panel including Liz Ellis, Kelli Underwood (who has also hosted Offsiders), Tracey Holmes, Chloe Saltau, Jacquelin Magnay, Alison Mitchell and Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander.

The discussion of the panel, and the response it generated, demonstrated that insightful and intelligent discussion of sport is not the domain of one gender alone.  

The landmark episode comes in the same week that pioneering journalist Debbie Spillane was awarded an AM in the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to the media as a sports reporter and role model for women in broadcasting.

Spillane, who worked for ABC, commenced her career over thirty years ago when female sports journalists were few and far between.  Despite facing immense opposition and discrimination, the presenter and host forged on creating a path for the sports journalists of today.  

As much as progress has been made, it's still taken 10 years for a all female panel and there is still a ways to go yet. 

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