I know from those of you I’ve met in person and from reading posts from so many more on the listserv, that this is not a group of women shy about speaking up.
We recently sent out a general membership survey. This is the first one in over two years, and we need to hear from you. The survey gives you an opportunity to share what you want from JAWS, and it also seeks to gather information about our membership that will help the new board serve you better and evaluate how well we are working to fulfill our mission.
And that’s not your only opportunity to speak up.
I’m very pleased to announce that Aminda “Mindy” Marqués Gonzalez has joined the Journalism and Women Symposium Advisory Board.
Mindy is executive editor and vice president for news at The Miami Herald, the first Hispanic in that position. She started at the paper as an intern, proof to all you interns reading this that you can work your way up. I met Mindy when she interrupted her career at the Herald to serve as Miami bureau chief for People magazine, but she returned to the Herald in 2007 and served as multimedia editor, Sunday/Features editor and managing editor before being named to her current post.
Her passion was contagious. Sitting on stage after the Washington, D.C., Feb. 14 screening of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” Marlene Sanders recalled both the battles she had fought in newsrooms against sexism and the battles she covered on streets full of protesting feminists. She told us that it had been a constant struggle to convince her editors to cover the women’s movement, but she persisted and succeeded and talks about it in the film.
Marlene Sanders was a true pioneer. She died at age 84 on July 14.
As The New York Times reported, Marlene started her career with ABC and later worked for CBS. She was a “first” more than a few times throughout her career, a role model and inspiration for so many women broadcasters.
JAWS member Lynn Povich had this to share when asked about Marlene: “It’s just a small but meaningful thing,” she emailed me.
“Shortly after graduating from college in Pennsylvania last year, Elaine Rita Mendus hopped on a Greyhound bus, hoping the $2,000 in her bank account would keep her afloat until the first paycheck. There was only one city in the country that seemed moderately promising for a 6-foot-3 transgender woman in the early stages of transitioning to launch a career.
‘I figured, where else will I be accepted?” Ms. Mendus, 24, said. “New York.’
It was a rude awakening. The luckiest break she caught after a monthslong quest to find steady work was a coveted slot at one of the city’s few homeless shelters that give refuge to gay and transgender youths for a few months. It was a blessing, she said, but also ‘a really strange pill to swallow.’
Americans’ understanding of transgender people has been shaped recently by the riveting, glamorous lives of the former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and the actress Laverne Cox. The two, though, are far from representative of an economically disadvantaged community that continues to face pervasive employment discrimination, partly as a result of lagging legal protections.”
In response to the recent Tim Hunt immolation, I asked myself: Do co-workers fall in love with you? Or vice versa? Do you cry when criticized?
Well actually, yes.
I met Steve when we were working in the AP bureau together in San Francisco. We will celebrate our 38th anniversary next month. As office romances go, it wasn’t particularly torrid. We always seemed to work different shifts (the joys of the AP’s 24/7 scheduling) and after a few months he left to work at a local paper. I thought we had successfully hidden the relationship from colleagues, but they later told me they all knew. (No reporter wants to admit to being scooped).
While I can’t recall a specific instance, I know there were times in the early years of my career when I came close to tears if not actually cried while being criticized. This would happen when I felt the criticism was unfair and that I was powerless against my supervisor.
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.