Edge of change: Women in the 21st century press

JAWS CAMP blog l

Moderator: Megan Kamerick
Panelists: Editors of “Edge of Change” book Pamela Creedon and June Nicholson,  essay contributor Peg Simpson,  2010 Joan Cook Fellow Erin Siegal and JAWS 2010 Fellow Laurel Wamsley.

June Nicholson kicked off the discussion by talking about the motivations for her book. She said she was “compelled to make sure this book got done because there have been so few books in recent years about the role, status and future of women in the news.” Nicholson and the other contributors worked to fill that “huge hole” by researching the achievements of women journalists in the past several decades, as well as look at the issues and challenges they face in the newsroom.

Moderator Megan Kamerick noted that about one-third of full-time journalists at daily newspapers are women, the same level as nearly 30 years ago. Peg Simpson responded that while women have made strides and there is “room for celebration and more sophistication,” women often need to be better advocates for themselves in the workplace to counter the institutional challenges they may face.

Pamela Creedon said she’s been using “Edge of Change” with her students, who’ve compiled interviews with women journalists from around the globe at www.ourblook.com. She said that tool has helped to begin the discussion about the future of women in journalism by looking back on the field’s history and progress.

The two younger panelists, Laurel Wamsley and Erin Siegal, both agreed that women dominated in their recent journalism courses. Both said the female mentors that they have encountered in their early careers have proved vital to their growth, as have opportunities for networking like at JAWS camp.

Audience member E.J. Graff commented that, although women make up the majority of graduate journalism programs, they enter what she called a “leaky pipeline,” falling out of the industry as their careers progress. Instead of looking at the causes for that, however, Graff suggested that women need to actually do something to counter that trend.

Blogged by Jen Colletta, 2010 JAWS Fellow