By Merrill Perlman, JAWS Board Member
It’s time to confess: I was a JAWS denier.
In the early years of JAWS, Betsy Wade and Joan Cook urged me to join. Why did I need JAWS? I thought to myself. I was already at a wonderful place in my career at The New York Times (the second woman to be the chief of a major news copy desk, Betsy, of course, being the first). I didn’t need a group of women to validate my success. I demurred, more than once, and they stopped asking.
Fast-forward to 2006, more than 15 years later. I was now the director of copy desks at The Times, the largest department in terms of people reporting to it, more than 160. There were other women in top jobs at The Times, but I had little camaraderie with them. I needed something by way of a support group, a sounding board.
JAWS D.C.: JAWS D.C. members Jane Meacham (in cap), Viola Gienger (red gloves), Beryl Adcock and her husband, David, walked in a silent march that drew hundreds, perhaps more, in Washington, D.C., in a show of solidarity with France and the values of free expression and tolerance, after the attacks in Paris. French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde helped lead the procession, which began at the Newseum and ended at Judiciary Square.
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.
By Angela Greiling Keane, JAWS Board Member
There are many things to love about JAWS, but one of my favorites is the age diversity of our members. When I first joined JAWS in 2003, that wasn’t the case. But the members at the time— the core of whom had founded the group as soulmates in solidarity in the 1980s— realized that JAWS wouldn’t be sustainable into the future if they didn’t replenish their ranks. So they set out to do just that.
I was recruited to JAWS by the indomitable Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, who at the time worked down the hall from me. I don’t remember her exact words, but whatever they were, when she invited me to a reception for JAWS that was being held in conjunction with an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Washington, I don’t recall there being a choice of whether I would attend.
Join JAWS, 39 other journalism organizations and 20,000+ journalists in supporting our slain colleagues at French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. #JeSuisCharlie
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.
Story by 2014 Fellow Elaine Rita Mendus | Video by Macrina Newhouse | Photos by Ellie Van Houtte
While online harassment has always been an issue, it has become a big topic among journalists recently, as the recent Gamergate debacle only underlined the importance of this discussion at CAMP. Veteran journalists Mary Curtis, Susy Schultz and Michele Weldon discussed the issue of harassment on the Internet, harassment prior to the Internet and ways to counter harassment.
Women in the session were asked to post on a corkboard an insulting or harassing comment left for them on a story. And every woman on the panel relayed a tale of harassment, threats or physical stalking.
By Pamela Moreland, JAWS Board Member
Molly Ivins continues to give JAWS something to talk — and think — about. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from a gathering of 30 Bay Area JAWS members and their friends at the Berkeley Rep production of “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.” Kathleen Turner, the Academy Award and Tony Award nominee, starred in the one-woman play written by the Engel sisters, Margaret (better known as Peggy) and Allison, both JAWS veterans.
Going to see Turner channel Ivins has become a JAWS tradition: Earlier this year, JAWS members in Washington, D.C., saw Turner’s star-turn in the play, and others saw her in Philadelphia in 2010.
By Pamela Moreland, JAWS Board Member
Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. All very cool. All about consumption.
Giving Tuesday is different. Founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation, it’s about giving back and making a difference. Your tax-deductible donation to JAWS on Giving Tuesday, no matter how big or small, will provide money for fellowships, mentoring programs, regional training and help in bringing great speakers to our annual conference.
We must keep up the momentum, and we need your support to do so.
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.
By Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, JAWS member
For our November regional event, Southern California JAWdesses partnered with Ms. Magazine to host a public forum on women, body image and the media at the Feminist Majority headquarters in Beverly Hills. More than 60 attendees – many of them journalism and media students from area colleges and universities – braved the early Saturday morning chill for the 90-minute presentation, “Mirror, Mirror: How Misogyny, Body Shaming and Hypersexualization in Media Skew Modern Perceptions of Female Beauty,” moderated by So Cal JAWS member Amy Lieu (editor, SoCal Connected).
Planning a trip? Renting a car? Buying a book? Ordering flowers? Do you buy from Amazon, iTunes, Hotwire, Travelocity, eBay, Best Buy, Target, Lands’ End or 1-800-Flowers? If the answer is yes, you can help the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS).
Story by 2014 Fellow Georgia Dawkins
“Emote! It’s good to cry, but don’t stay there.” That was the message from Wendy Wallbridge as she comforted a tearful woman sharing the conflict between her true self and her false self with a room full of strangers. In that moment, we were not strangers, we were kindred spirits. It was the moment where we recognized that we all shared the same fears.
The woman’s testimony was part of an exercise at a CAMP session, “Elevating Your Voice: A New Roadmap for Self-Defined Success.” Wallbridge said that to be successful, we had to develop a different relationship with the negative voices in our head. So, as part of the session, we made a T-chart. On one side we listed all the negative things our false self told us about pursuing our dreams, and on the other, we listed the truth. She encouraged us to combat those negative voices with words from our true self. “Are you thinking about what you want, or the lack of it?” said Wallbridge.
Story by 2014 Fellow Georgia Dawkins
Shh! Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but the big secret to mentoring is asking for what you need. I know this for a fact. For the last 10 years, I have recruited mentors from various backgrounds, genders and ethnicities to guide me through life. This year, JAWS made that process even easier. Not only was I drawn to like-minded JAWdesses like a mosquito to water, but I was paired with a phenomenal female journalist. I was paired with Stacy-Marie Ishmael. She instantly made meeting me at CAMP a priority, and her commitment didn’t end at after one breakfast at the La Quinta Resort. Between BuzzFeed and the Financial Times, her time is limited, but I’m now on her schedule. I look at our newfound union and think, “Now, that’s how you do it.”
Mary Stutts, vice president of external affairs for Comcast, told CAMP attendees that many women don’t have mentors because they fail to ask. “Mentoring is conducive to developing future leaders,” says the mother of three.
Story by 2014 Fellow Melissa Ludtke
As the industrial model of conveying news via print and broadcast shares its space now with digital media, so do the 20th century’s benchmarks of newsroom ethics need to adjust to new ways of assessing the profession’s guiding principles. It doesn’t work to “simply apply the old rules to the new environment,” said Kelly McBride, who is vice president of academic programs at the Poynter Institute and led the session entitled “New Journalism Ethics” at JAWS CAMP. McBride is also co-editor of “The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century.”
No licensing board sets standards for journalists to adhere to, unlike many professions. Instead, its ethics grow “from the bottom,” and thus have evolved in that way, too, McBride observed. Consumers of news then have those ethics as guiding principles that undergird the delivery of their news. With fairness and accuracy at the center of journalism’s mission, the standards — core values — that grew out of the common 20th century practice involved truth-telling, independence (from advertisers) and the minimization of harm.
Story by 2014 Fellow Nicole Raz | Photos by Ellie Van Houtte
The numbers of women working in tech are low, and two JAWS panelists say the media’s coverage of women in tech isn’t doing much to give those numbers a boost.
“In journalism, people focus on catchy titles that are more controversial and potentially result in more people clicking, but a lot of those are negative,” said Alaina Percival, an adviser at CodePath, a mobile developer school for engineers.
Headlines like “Tech companies haven’t gotten past sexism 1.0” and “Why women leave tech: It’s the culture, not because ‘math is hard’” aren’t helping.
Story by 2014 Fellow Elaine Rita Mendus
Radio journalism is an art, and there has never been an easier opportunity to get involved because of podcasting. At JAWS CAMP 2014, radio journalism and podcast experts Gina Delvac and Katie McMurran went over a variety of information, from finding equipment, recording, editing software suggestions, and even distribution methods.
The session began with discussion over recording equipment. Delvac and McMurran suggested using XLR microphones similar to those used in normal recording studios, as well as headphones.
Story by 2014 Fellow Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil | Photos by Ellie Van Houtte
Many journalists get into the profession to make a difference – but where the rubber hits the road is in execution and having freedom to pursue data analysis and spending time with sources, according to panelists at JAWS Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in La Quinta, California.
Susan Smith Richardson, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, said that social justice journalism is “a lot bigger” than just wanting to make a difference – “we all want to make a difference with our stories,” she said – but also examines structural inequalities in society, whether through data or human stores with the aim of trying to change policies or practices.
Story by 2014 Fellow Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil | Photo by Ellie Van Houtte
In 1997, Melissa Ludtke traveled to China and adopted a baby who had been abandoned by her birth parents as a result of the country’s one-child policy. For the next 16 years Ludtke raised her daughter Maya in her home state of Massachusetts. When Maya was almost 17 years old, she returned to China to find out what life would have been like had she grown up in the rural countryside.
Ludtke, the first-ever JAWS entreprenurial fellow, sent a team of bilingual videographers along with Maya and her orphanage crib neighbor Jennie to document their journey – and the results are her forthcoming iBook, “Touching Home in China: in search of missing girlhoods.” Ludtke shared the process of creating the interactive iBook on Nov. 2.
Story by 2014 Fellow Catherine Green | Photos by Ellie Van Houtte
“We’re in an era of chaos and opportunity in journalism — we’re going to talk about the opportunity part.”
It was a fitting way for Dawn Garcia to kick off Saturday’s Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) panel on fellowships, awards and collaborative projects: the “opportunity part” is what drives her role as managing director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford University. Garcia corralled a chat with Michelle Holmes, VP of content for Alabama Media Group, Claudia Nuñez, founder and director of Migrahack, and Alison Fitzgerald, a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity.