The novelty of ABC‘s first female TV newsreader 40 years ago showed that attitudes to women on television were very different to now.

“Australia’s newest sex symbol is not a naughty nurse from The Young Doctors. She’s not even a titillating teacher from Glenview High, or a passionate policewoman from Cop Shop. Believe it or not, she’s an ABC newsreader” — so declared Melbourne’s Scene newspaper in April 1978.

“Long-legged Margaret Throsby began on Sydney’s ABN2 only last week.”

Scene, 1 April 1978

Female newsreaders or journalists on television were still a rarity even by the late 1970s, although there had been some trailblazer reporters including Tanya Halesworth, Mickie de Stoop, Anne Deveson, Kate Ballieu and Brisbane newsreader Melody Iliffe.

Throsby, however, wasn’t falling for the sexist adoration and denied that sex appeal had anything to with her TV role. “If that’s the only reason they picked me for the job I’ll quit straight away,” she told Scene. “There are lots of women doctors and lawyers around now — did they get where they are because they looked sexy?”

Throsby was no newcomer to the media. She had been an announcer at ABC radio since the 1960s, including as one of its first female newsreaders since World War II. After Throsby began reading TV news for ABC, the commercial sector showed a greater interest in employing female newsreaders.

Since the sensationalist media attention of 40 years ago, Throsby continued an esteemed career at ABC, including hosting long-running programs for radio 2BL (now ABC Radio Sydney) and ABC Classic FM, the latter for which she still presents concert events, and acts as a mentor to ABC’s next generation of broadcasters. She has also worked as a presenter for SBS and was a panellist on Beauty And The Beast for the Ten Network in the 1980s.

Source: Scene, 1 April 1978. ABC Classic FM.

9 thoughts on “When female newsreaders were “the good news”

  1. Canberra commercial had an early newsreader name
    forgotten perhaps Claudia !! She had been a film editor, an unusual career path uptothe desk ANY HELP WITH IDENTITY.
    Adelaide ADS was the first to use the News Editor
    Don Riddell as a presenter as well as his day job

  2. What about my dear 66yrs old friend, Danila Sossa originally from radio in Whyalla and known in the industry as “Dani”. Get in touch with her as I believe she was an exceptional early Live female Newsreader and investigative journalist in Australian Media. There are photos in the archives if someone cares to look for her historical contributions to Australian media outlets for many years.

    1. Great woman indeed as Iam actually sitting with her right now. Iam her carer wish she could be interviewed and talk about her past experience in her beautiful Career. Gladys Likukela

    2. Great woman indeed as Iam actually sitting with her right now. Iam her carer wish she could be interviewed and talk about her past experience in her beautiful Career.

  3. Danila Sossa , wow what a small world it is. She is just telling me a few stories about her experience with SBS. Iam her carer I think an interview with her would be great for your records. She is in a nursing home but still writes and strong.

  4. There’s actually an interesting “Where are they now” program available on Youtube- which includes interviews from former newsreaders and Margaret Throsby was there- she talked a lot about how people and the rest of the media perceived her in the late 70s as the first female newsreader… You may have seen it, a VERY interesting segment.

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