Former News Corp staffer tells inquiry she was told no ‘pigs in lipstick’

A former News Corp photographer has told senators at the ongoing media diversity inquiry that management was contractually permitted to listen in on her phone calls, instructed her not to take photos of “pigs in lipstick”, and subjected her to a “toxic” and “sexist” work environment.

Anna Rogers worked for various News Corp mastheads for more than 20 years, before her role was made redundant last June.

“A lack of competition and emphasis on click bait has created a toxic culture, where staff feel intimated and bullied, many waiting for the next axe to fall,” she said of her former employer.

”Women are treated particularly badly and paid less purely because they are women.”

As part of her explosive testimony, Rogers claimed that “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”.

This contract was separate to News Corp’s enterprise bargaining agreement, she said.

Anna Rogers testifying at the inquiry this morning

Senate committee chair, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, questioned whether other News Corp employees, such as journalists, were subject to the same contract, and whether this meant management could listen in on reporters’ calls with confidential sources. Rogers agreed to provide a copy of the contract to the senators, and said she believed others were also covered by it.

The journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance, also gave evidence at the inquiry, and said it was not aware of that specific issue.

Rogers’ evidence also traversed the instructions a picture editor gave her to not photograph “pigs in lipstick”, which she found derogatory to women. But to “keep my job, I had to apply this test, which meant that women who were overweight, or over 35, did not get a run in the paper”. She was instead directed to photograph a “yummy mummy” or “pretty backpacker” at the Cairns Post.

“I was never, ever directed to get a photo of an attractive man.”

A picture editor once told her “that if I didn’t like my job, I could get a job at Maccas”, Rogers continued. She also referred to the lack of flexibility a colleague allegedly received after returning from maternity leave, leading to her resignation, the volume of unpaid overtime, the lack of training and safety equipment, incorrect grading of staff under the award, and the turnover rate within her office: “Since 2015, we’ve had 53 staff leave our little office. 30 resigned, 19 have been made redundant, three sacked, and two died.”

The inquiry

She told the committee that when she left the business, she was classified as a ‘clerk’ for the purposes of her redundancy payment, despite her lengthy career as a photographer. The union had to assist her to be classified correctly and receive the severance payment to which she was entitled, Rogers said.

Mumbrella has contacted News Corp for comment on Rogers’ allegations, including whether it is correct that some News Corp employees’ contracts include a clause permitting the company to listen in on phone calls.

The inquiry began last month after former Primer Minister Kevin Rudd set up a petition demanding a Royal Commission into News Corp, which gained 500,000 signatures. On 19 February, Rudd fronted the inquiry, telling the senators that he only stopped being fearful of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp once he left office.

News Corp’s local boss, Michael Miller, gave evidence after Rudd, and said that many of his submissions were “misleading”.


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