Collective wisdom moves JAWS forward

By Mira Lowe

Trailblazing journalist and author Dorothy Butler Gilliam had a memorable and tweetable quote during the Fran Lewine Memorial Interview at this year’s CAMP in Williamsburg, Va.: “Let your phone be smart, you be wise.”

As I begin my term as president of JAWS, I’m seeking to draw on wisdom — mine and yours, too — as I give careful thought to the work ahead and where we can go as a unified force. JAWS should be the leading, go-to organization for women in journalism — advocating for advancement and equity in newsrooms; spotlighting great work and achievement across all platforms; and providing support at every career stage.

In this tumultuous time for our industry and country — mergers, restructurings and press attacks — now, more than ever, we must focus on equipping our members with the knowledge, tools and support systems they will need to succeed.

We must not get distracted or lose sight of JAWS’ mission to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and to work toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.

JAWS must speak up for those susceptible to industry harm — women journalists experiencing discrimination or marginalization because of age, race, gender or motherhood.

JAWS must call attention to the expertise and excellence of women in our ranks. Despite some gains by women in hiring and promotion, research shows that men still dominate in every part of the news and digital media.

JAWS must be a haven for women facing professional and personal challenges, seeking advice and encouragement not readily found elsewhere.

I believe JAWS can be THAT organization without question.

I believe our collective wisdom can help us move forward as one. We will need your wisdom, your vision and your commitment to JAWS to make this happen. Here’s what you can do:

  • Renew your membership; encourage others to do the same or join the organization.
  • Join a committee or a task force (a call for volunteers is coming soon).
  • Give of your time to teach a webinar or lead a workshop.
  • Mentor or partner with another member on something amazing.
  • Support our fundraising efforts at whatever level you are able.
  • Participate in your local regional group. Start one if it doesn’t exist; we will help.
  • Commit to lifting this community of womenfolk in ways big and small.

To ensure that JAWS is strong enough to represent the needs of all women in journalism, we will need to reorient to focus on solutions not problems, on the future not the past. The board you elected will govern in the best interests of the entire membership while seeking your input and keeping you informed. In the coming weeks, expect the board to review committee assignments, membership and giving campaigns, and communication strategies.

JAWS is uniquely positioned to be a leader in advocating for women journalists and supporting their personal and professional pursuits.

Let’s curate a space of care and consideration as we express our truths and amplify our voices. Let’s embrace innovative ideas and seek new ways of doing things that will elevate The Symposium.

In order for us to thrive, we must evolve. Wisdom says progress is impossible without change.

Onward,