By Jane Isay
It’s Women’s History Month, and JAWS has much to celebrate. We are witnesses to history, and we have made history.
None of us knew Ida B. Wells or Nellie Bly, but we have the privilege of hanging out with our living icons, women like Betsy Wade, and Edie Lederer, and Linda Deutsch. We also get to hang out with each other, and who knows what the future will make of our work, and our travails?
The JAWS membership contains hundreds of women with thousands of stories. We can tell of our struggles, our solutions, the events we have covered, how we have built lives and careers to honor the facts and to tell the truth.
Now, through the medium of StoryCorps and the JAWSTalks program, we have the opportunity to tell each other our stories, to share our experiences, and to hear the quiet note of surprise, or sorrow that lie beneath the words—if we listen carefully. It’s simple:
- Download the StoryCorps app.
- Request to join the JAWSTalks Community at the following link: https://archive.storycorps.org/communities/jawstalks/.
- Talk to a fellow JAWS member in person, while recording on the StoryCorps app.
- Request to add your conversation to the JAWSTalks community.
- Join the chorus of women journalists whose voices shape our culture.
Our archive will be permanently available and housed in the Library of Congress and also on StoryCorps’ online archive. It already contains timeless conversations such as a chat between Betsy Wade and our first Betsy Wade Legacy Fund Fellow, and a reflection on the trauma that is often part of our work.
I’m passionate about this. And it isn’t easy to get it off the ground. We are busy, and we can’t always be together. But many of us are convinced that we can do this—and should. It’s a matter of tapping someone and chatting for forty minutes. It’s a matter of passing the baton (in the form of a cell phone with the app) to others, going viral with our love of stories—even our own. I’m due to chat with Andrea Stone next week. I want to know what it was like to cover Gaza in the times of trouble. Can’t wait to hear.
After our spring Board meeting in Oakland, I was seeking advice about how to make this opportunity a movement within JAWS. Mira Lowe came up with an answer. Let’s call this #JAWSForever.
Imagine that. We tape these conversations, send them to our room on the StoryCorps online archive, and our voices will last.
We can’t be Ida B. Wells, or Betsy Wade, but our stories, our struggles and insights can and will teach future generations. If people use old newspapers to wrap yesterday’s fish, and so much of the web disappears over time, our conversations and stories can be permanent.
So, download the app, have your conversation, send it to the website, and tell your friends what fun you had and how much you learned. Then pass it on.
Join the conversation that will create a living, oral history of women journalists. You can learn more about our living mosaic of stories – and contribute your own by using the hashtag and tagging @womenjournos on Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to drop us a line with any questions.