Help JAWS equip and empower women journalists

Drastic layoffs at BuzzFeed, Verizon Media, Gannett, Vice Media and many local newspapers marked a tough start to 2019. Layoffs this year have already topped 2,300 – and it’s only March.

Research has shown that corporate layoffs hit women and people of color the hardest, and in recent months, talented and prominent women, including women of color, on the cutting edge of digital news or podcasting lost their jobs.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for us to pull together and turn challenges into new opportunities for women journalists. We were proud to see our members leap into action to share job leads on social media and actively promote journalists who lost their jobs. As an organization, we extended free memberships to journalists who were laid off early this year.

Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) is dedicated to building relationships that can help each laid-off journalist plan next steps, each new or early career journalist break into media and each veteran journalist reinvent their career.

We aim to raise $20,000 by April 15 to help us continue this important work in this critical time. This funding will help us assist women journalists in making the connections and accessing the tools they need to succeed.

Amanda Eisenberg is one of many JAWS members who found that joining the organization connected her to people who could help her find her next job.

“I joined JAWS during my job hunt, and one of the first emails I received through the listserv came from POLITICO’s Angela Greiling Keane about a New York City-based reporter position,” Eisenberg said. “Greiling Keane, a JAWS member, took the time to schedule an informational interview with me to discuss my reporting experience and interests. About two weeks after our call, she reached out to share that another position opened up and I might be better suited for it. Within six weeks, POLITICO hired me as its New York City health care reporter.”

And Helen Ubiñas is among many JAWS members who have found inspiration in the organization to deepen their coverage.

At JAWS’ annual Conference and Mentoring Project, Helen Ubiñas got the idea to engage more deeply with her community through a “pop-up newsroom” project for the Philadelphia Daily News. The first incarnation was at a school where the majority of students are from immigrant families. Ubiñas met a woman who had documented the migrant caravan in Mexico.

“I wouldn’t have met her or heard her story it wasn’t for the pop-up idea I got from CAMP,” she said.

While JAWS’ 34-year history is filled with stories like the one above, we are owning up to – and working to end – the exclusion and bias that has also existed within our ranks.

This year, many members are coming together not only to work for equity in our organization, but to help transform JAWS into a model of equity across the industry. We’re especially grateful to our 2018 JAWS fellows, who shared accounts of the racism they faced at our 2018 CAMP; diversity and inclusion consultant Dr. Mary J. Wardell; and the JAWS Diversity Committee.

We are planning diversity and inclusion training for regional groups and ensuring that CAMP 2019 is focused on facing our past and defining our future. We also just took stock of current and former members’ experience in a survey on diversity and inclusion, and Dr. Wardell will release findings in the coming weeks. Our new Code of Conduct clarifies our values and states what is and isn’t acceptable in JAWS.

And we’re just getting started.

This crucial time compels us to pull together now more than ever. We need to help each other by sharing connections, job leads, creative solutions to our industry’s challenges, training and more. And JAWS needs your support to give more women the tools to succeed and to work toward a more equitable future.

If you want to elevate women journalists and believe diverse newsrooms are essential to representing our whole society and telling essential stories being missed today, help us bring about this transformation.

Donate through Network for Good or via check made out to Journalism and Women Symposium and mailed to 2885 Sanford Ave. SW, #29226, Grandville, MI 49418-1342.

If you can’t donate but want to help, you can contribute by serving as a mentor, volunteering to serve on a committee, donating silent auction items or volunteering at CAMP, and much more. Contact JAWS Secretary Rachel Sams at rachelbsams@gmail.com to get involved.