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It's China who likes to employ young and pretty female anchors, how come China becomes the place for aged foreigners? I'm sure this won't happen on a Chinese elder.|
Susan Osman, 51, an ex-BBC News presenter has accused her former employer as being ageist and has accepted a position in Beijing with China Radio International (CRI) where she says that her experience will be revered.
"The opportunities for me in the UK seem to be deminishing because we have a culture where men can be as old and unattractive as they like, while women have to look as glamorous and attractive as they can in order to work," Osman told the Global Times.
With a career in broadcasting spanning 28 years, including presenting on BBC World, Osman said that she had had enough of the corporation's ageist practices.
"One of my bosses once asked me if I am menopausal,'" Osman recalled. "I think they were probably trying to warn me that you are getting a bit old now. You should be thinking about doing something else."
Osman presented Points West on BBC One for 14 years before hosting a show on BBC Radio Bristol for eight years. She then went through a series of interviews for BBC jobs but was consistently overlooked.
"I've been in the British journalism industry for nearly 30 years and as you get older, you get more expensive," Osman explained. "So with the current economic climate, it's much more sensible for companies to employ younger people, who are half my price."
"There are about 10 of us, who are very experienced, who find it very difficult to get work, including Anna Ford and Arlene Phillips," she added.
A veteran judge and presenter, 66-year-old Arlene Phillips was replaced on Strictly Come Dancing (a hit BBC ballroom dancing show) by Alesha Dixon, 31, a decision criticized by Harriet Harman, Britain's Equalites Minister, according to a report on timesonline. co.uk.
A BBC spokesperson was quoted by the website as saying that short-term contracts and keeping programs fresh are simply part of the media. "Broadcasting, especially presenting, is an extremely competitive industry and the nature of it is such that many broadcasters are freelance artists on contracts of specific duration
s," he said. "Ageism has nothing to do with it."
Osman explained that her son suggested she try China and she is now preparing to host The Beijing Hour, a weekday news show at 7am.
"We did a rehearsal a couple of days ago. She is even better than I expected," commented Li Peichun, department head at CRI. "Because of her experience in hosting live shows, she can time everything perfectly."
"However, what impressed me most is her respect of the people and culture here," Li added. "She can cope with the editorial practices, the way we do things here."
While many foreign journalists find it hard to adjust to the working practices in China, the former BBC presenter said it is a fascinating opportunity for her to gain insight from a Chinese perspective.
"When you are in China, because of where it's strategically placed, it has a completely different perspective on the world. And that's what I'm looking forward to bringing in this job. I want to look at the world through the Chinese perspective."
Osman added that she has seen a genuine desire to change in the Chinese media. "When I was in China 10 years ago, the news was heavily censored. That doesn't happen any more. Yes, it's a slow progress, but things are changing. I really believe from what I experienced, there is a genuine desire to reach out to the world and hold hands together."
"And I think China is often misrepresented in the press," Osman added, "For example, I was quite embarrassed by Miliband's attack on the Chinese at the Copenhagen Conference. Wherever I look, there is recycling. The companies seem to be conscious of eco-friendly practices. Actually per capita, China is not as polluted as the world said. So I would like my program, The Beijing Hour, to give Chinese people an opportunity to express themselves."
Osman said that her biggest ambition now is to make her show the best program that CRI has and to learn more about China.
"To bring a BBC journalist into a Chinese newsroom and do a live news program is quite brave for the Chinese to do," she said. "And I'm very aware that there is a lot of trust and expectations placed on my shoulders. But at the same time, I want to be a good journalist. So that's a fine balance. That will be a personal challenge to me."