This month I attended Georgetown’s commencement and had the honor of hooding our journalism graduate students. It didn’t take long. Not many journalism degrees were handed out in comparison with degrees in public relations, sports management, real estate and other fields where job prospects are more secure.
That’s why I am so impressed with the passion and dedication of those students who choose to follow careers in journalism. And I was pleased to see several JAWS members among this year’s grads (shout out to Brittany Bremer, Heather Curtis and Julie Gilkison. Also Nicole Lewis, in absentia).
It is my hope that the JAWS network will be there for them and for all of us at every stage in our careers to provide support, resources and perhaps most importantly friendship.
In just six months, the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) will celebrate “Women Making News for 30 Years” at our anniversary CAMP Oct. 9-11 in Whitefish, Mont. Start making your plans to be there to toast our herstory and our future. Register now by clicking here and then give Grouse Mountain Lodge a call to reserve your room.
CAMP chairs Gina Setser and Emily Shenk are lining up a stellar program. Sessions are in the works on long-form journalism, election finance, avoiding the campaign spin (just in time for your 2016 reporting), teaching journalism, the ethics of crossing lines and so much more. Hilary Powell is organizing another lineup of tech-on-one trainers to cover all the skills and apps you need to succeed. This year’s Fran Lewine Interview will feature Linda Deutsch interviewing trailblazing journalist Edie Lederer. A special plenary session will focus on diversity in tribute to the work of the late Dori Maynard, a member of the JAWS Advisory Board. And stay tuned for announcements about keynote speakers and for details on a screening of “Difret” with producer Dr. Mehret Mandefro (thanks to a great suggestion from Kathy Bonk).
D.C. events are known for their quotients of power brokers and influencers. So perhaps it wasn’t that unusual to find six past presidents gathered at the National Press Club on March 20.
But how often do you find past presidents and their supporters munching on cookies featuring a curvaceous pink shark with big red lips?
The JAWS Board of Directors met in Washington, D.C., from March 20 to 22. This is the only time outside of CAMP that your board gathers in person.The agenda included a diversity discussion, updates on CAMP, mentoring, regional programming, fellowships and highlights from all committees. The meeting kicked off with a board dinner at the National Press Club followed by a mixer with D.C.-area JAWS members.
The board’s working sessions were at the Medill D.C. campus. Lynn Sweet reached out to program director Ellen Shearer, who graciously let JAWS use the space for free.
One item on the agenda was activating a nominating committee. Start thinking about serving on the board. Research shows that women usually need to be asked to run for office seven times before they do it: Consider this your first ask. And then show that you are willing to defy the odds and decide to run without waiting for six more asks.
Not to get all syrupy, but for a feel-good JAWS moment, read the note earlier this month from Sabine Muscat to the listserv about The Wall Street Journal’s accepting her story.
Muscat says Viola Gienger brought her to a D.C. JAWS event after she lost her job as Washington correspondent for a German newspaper. She wasn’t sure how to break into freelancing and expand her outlets to write in both English and German. JAWS members reached out and offered advice and resources. Two years later, Muscat says she can live on her freelance income.
“It has been liberating to see that it is still possible to make a living as a journalist these days,” Muscat wrote. “But it also is a fact that job and income security are not easy to attain for freelancers — which is why networking is so important. JAWS is the best example for that.”
Women elected officials and the women journalists who cover them share an uncomfortable reality: We are both underrepresented.
The new U.S. Congress includes 20 women out of 100 senators and 84 women out of 435 representatives. Only five of the 50 governors are women. Compared to other nations, we’re in the cellar when it comes to the number of elected women. We trail behind such nations as Honduras, Rwanda, Vietnam and Bosnia.
And research shows equally dismal representation for women journalists at home and abroad. An IWMF study on the global status of women in the media found that women worldwide held only about 36 percent of reporting jobs. Last year’s study by the Women’s Media Center found that, in the United States, male bylines continue to dominate both newspaper front pages and the content of newer online-only sites.
Listicles aside, I will spare you any year-end JAWS rundowns of top 20s, 10s or 5s. Let’s just say it has been a very interesting year. At the start of 2014, I did not expect to end the year as president of JAWS. But here I am.
And I am here for you.
So what can you expect from me in 2015? I plan to focus on getting JAWS in robust shape with a healthy budget (yes, that means fundraising) and stable staffing so that you can receive the programs and networking and support you want. Next year is a special year, our 30th anniversary, and that makes it an apt time to think about the state of our union. When you look at the mission of JAWS — to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and work toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society — how far have we come? Where do we need to go? What are the next steps to get there? Let’s engage in this conversation throughout the year and have it culminate in a great program at the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in Montana, where we can celebrate our legacy and our progress and get inspired for the next 30 years.
This year at the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) at the La Quinta Resort and Club near Palm Springs, California, our amazing fellows asked for a few moments on the program because they had something to say. They stood up and, one by one, shared how they had become hooked on JAWS, how they had found it a safe place, a place of support, rejuvenating and inspiring and so much more.
They summed up eloquently and with emotion everything I might have said in my opening remarks after immediate past president Lauren Whaley placed the stylish shark tiara on my head. The fellows, like the excellent journalists they are, zoomed in on the heart of what JAWS is about.
Dear JAWS members:
Thank you all, once again, for the opportunity to serve as your president.
At CAMP, I officially passed the crown to the very capable Linda Kramer Jenning. But I did want to say goodbye one more time and also give a brief recap of our incredible 2014 Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP).
Jill Abramson formerly of NYT, Anna Holmes of Jezebel, Pulitzer-winning Sonia Nazario to speak at conference
Dear JAWS members:
These have been a troubling few weeks for journalists and for the world. And I am grateful for JAWS members who have helped to explain and reflect on what is happening through our network, support and work. Thank you for the posts and discussion on the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and the continued aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri and beyond. And thank you, too, for the coverage and conversation following photojournalist James Foley’s execution. In both stories, many people see their sons, their fathers, their brothers, themselves.
I am hoping we can continue these conversations about the world and the role of journalists in it on the listserv, on Twitter, on Facebook and at our Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) at the end of October.
Dear JAWS members:
I’m happy to report more good news about our Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP)!
Jill Abramson will be joining us again and has agreed to speak again as well. We’re still working out the details of when she will talk, but probably at some point on Saturday, Nov. 1.
I am so pleased to announce that Anna Holmes has agreed to be our Saturday night keynote speaker at this year’s Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP). She’s excited about it and so am I.
Anna is founder of Jezebel and recipient of the 2012 Mirror Award for Best Commentary for her columns in The New York Times and the Washington Post. She is the editor of two books, “Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair” and the “Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things.” She now works as a columnist for the New York Times Book Review and as an editor at Fusion.
Many JAWS members asked for her by name as a potential speaker, and we are honored to have Anna at this year’s CAMP.
If ever you doubted the power of our mission to empower women journalists, just take a look at the results of our JAWS crowdfunding campaign to support the 10 Emerging Journalist fellowship winners coming to CAMP this year. Not only did we meet our goal of raising an incredible $12,000 through more than 200 small donations, we also garnered attention from hundreds of new supporters, who saw the tweets, posts and emails about these impressive emerging journalists and our Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) this year.
Remarkably, we had over 80 applicants for 10 spots — a record response for JAWS and double the number from last year.
Dear JAWS members:
I want to take this time to share with you not only some of the exciting opportunities we have been working on (see Fellowships! Regional gatherings! Member news! CAMP!), but also some of the work we have doing behind the scenes to keep JAWS functioning and improving.
We now have organizational documents posted online behind our members-only site. There, you will find committee names and members, our 2014 budget and our 2014 development plan. We will continue to add documents to this area.
Journalism and Women Symposium is pleased to announce a new fellowship for women of diverse backgrounds to attend the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP), an opportunity that will be funded over five years thanks to generous support from the Financial Times.
One fellowship winner each year will receive up to $1,000 to cover the cost of registration, travel and accommodations at the annual CAMP conference. JAWS intends to make this opportunity available to women who are traditionally underrepresented in newsrooms, including women of color, journalists in the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities.
Stories that have mentioned individuals and projects related to the Journalism and Women Symposium.
Wow, what a month! I am reminded every day that JAWS is like no other place or organization. I have come to expect our robust listserv discussions on topics such as Jill Abramson’s recent firing as well as links to heart-wrenching gorgeous essays. I love reading news on book deals and jobs opportunities. We all benefit from the intimacy our fellow members have cultivated over the years. And sharing that experience with more women in journalism – especially at this time in our industry when so many need the kind of support we provide – is gratifying. As I wrote in my fellowship letter, I want JAWS to welcome those who need this community. Our membership growth over the past few years shows how relevant we are, and the financial support that has grown along with it shows that our mission is compelling.
Journalism and Women Symposium members often pen eloquent commentaries on issues and news of the day and the firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times was no exception. As our keynote speaker at CAMP in 2013, Jill Abramson announced to a cheering audience that she was becoming “the newest member of JAWS” and her tales from the trenches inspired many who heard her speak. As the first woman to lead The New York Times, she was a beacon for many. And now that Dean Baquet is in that spot as the first African American to lead the paper, he is also a beacon for those striving for diversity in newsrooms.
Our listserv has been full of interesting and thoughtful comments, but we wanted to also highlight a few of the published columns from our members. If you have suggestions for other published work on this topic by JAWS members, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) support you.
As you ascended the ranks of top newspapers, you impressed us with your investigative journalism chops. When you became the first woman to run one of the most influential news organizations in the world, you inspired us to reach for leadership positions in our careers. And when you spoke to us during our annual conference last fall, you re-invigorated us with your self-proclaimed optimism about the journalism field and the influence we can have as women in it. Now we want to support you.
At the JAWS conference, you brought us to our feet declaring yourself to be “the newest member of JAWS” and acknowledging us as your “peeps.” Well, your peeps are here for you if you need us. We are hundreds strong in newsrooms all across the country and we stand with you and will help if we can.