Our rants about KET and their signature political program "Comment on Kentucky" are well known to our long suffering readers. We have difficulty getting the KET feed. Any weather other than sunshine and puppy dogs. results in distorted pictures - if we get a picture at all.
Back at the end of February, we suggested changes for the venerable program - like maybe a change in the line up of journalists and/or hosts.
Comment on Kentucky- Change can be fun!
As the longest running political commentary show on Kentucky television, Comment on Kentucky has always been the go-to spot for political observers. While the publisher (he) parks himself in front of the screen on Friday evenings or Sunday mornings, the editor (she) leaves the room when the theme music begins to play.
While she has long suspected that the cast is tilted toward male reporters in a list sharper than the one that took the Titanic down to the briny deep, she had never done any research to back up her suspicion. Until now.
Using the handy KET Comment on Kentucky website, she went back one year and counted the number of times male reporters were guests and the number of times female reporters were guests. The host, always a male, was not counted. Only invited guests. (Often the same guests had multiple appearances. For example, Jack Brammer, Tom Loftus and Ronnie Ellis had multiple guest spots. Laura Glasscock and Linda Blackford were guests more than once during the past year.
Two men, both veteran reporters, Ferrell Wellman and Bill Bryant, served as Comment hosts for the past year.
The results are gratifying in one way (she was right) and disturbing in another (really, KET, really???).
Beginning with the May 13, 2013 show, there were 167 guest appearances on Comment on Kentucky. Of those 167 guest appearances, 143 were male and 24 were women. That works out to 85.6% of the guest journalists being male and 14.3% being female.
Maybe it's contract issues. Maybe it's pay issues. Maybe it's lighting issues. Maybe women reporters all take Fridays off. Maybe it's that Comment thinks men are better journalists. Or that women will burst into tears when contradicted by the authoritative voice of the host. We don't know what the problem is.
All we know is that Comment on Kentucky is a place where for weeks at a time over the past year, all the viewer saw when they tuned in, were men sitting around sharing their view of politics.
That's why when she leaves the room, she dials up PBS Newshour online and watches two smart women, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, host another long running show, the News Hour. It's a program that started with two male hosts, McNeill and Lehrer, then grew into a format fit for the 21st century political junkie.
Why does this matter?
It matters because if the best that our best public television station has to offer is an 85/15 ratio, then there is little hope that commercial television will take women journalists or women candidates seriously.
And that's a sad Comment on Kentucky.