Glenda Holste, 65, works as public affairs specialist for a statewide educators union, Education Minnesota. She edits the Minnesota Educator, the monthly newspaper for the union’s 70,000 members. As contributor to (http://www.workdayminnesota.org), she occasionally writes for the website produced by the Labor Education Service, University of Minnesota for state labor organizations. She also is a contributor to the Women’s Media Center.
The former associate editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial page, left the paper in April 2006. She has previously worked in the field of journalism as editor, reporter and editorial page writer and columnist for several daily newspapers. Holste is a past president of the Journalism & Women Symposium, an organization that supports the professional empowerment and growth of women in journalism. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Holste researched progressive women’s political leadership in the Minnesota House of Representatives for her master of arts degree in leadership at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she is active in alumni affairs.
Holste was interviewed by Leah McClure, a senior undergraduate student at the University of Iowa pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in both dance and journalism and mass communication.
Leah McClure: Why did you become involved in journalism?
Glenda Holste: I grew up in the journalism and j-education world. My father was a photographer and editor for the Kansas City Star. I literally learned to read from the daily newspapers (two) that came into our house. I have family roots in Boone County, Mo., where journalism education was “invented.” Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, was a family friend when my grandmother was growing up. Mary Paxton Kelley, the first woman graduate of the Mizzou school, was one of my mother’s professors at Christian College in Columbia. I attended the Mizzou j-school, helped in reporting throughout the community by extended family members who became great sources.
LM: do you define journalism today?
GH: If you are asking whether technology and business assumptions have changed the basic discipline, the answer is no.
LM: How do you feel about the status of objectivity existing in journalism today?
GH: The frame of “objectivity” has always been false. It still is.
LM: How has technology influenced or affected your career?
GH: Technology, especially when it changes as rapidly as information technology has in this decade, affects everything we do on a daily basis. For current practicing news people, the pipeline to and from our practice has widened so much that how we do the work is altered daily. What we do– inform, analyze and invite interactions with the people who make up newsgathering—fits on the continuum of good practice.
LM: How will technology affect the future of journalism?
GH: We don’t know until we get into the next big thing. Did Twitter come to mind for journalism students as a tool of the trade in, say, 2002?
LM: What one word would you use to describe the status of women in journalism today?
GH: This is too reductive to answer. Women are not a monolithic class of people.
LM: What role(s) will women have in future journalism?
GH: The same roles men have, although it still is a climb toward equal access and career advancement.
LM: What do you think the voice of women brings to journalism that differs from that of men?
GH: This question fodder for dissertations and eternal vigilance. Going back to “objectivity,” let’s call the differences women bring healthy perspectives that come from our life experiences and socialization. With different people bringing different experiences to gathering and preparing news for dissemination, we have more perspectives. One frame doesn’t fit all. There is not necessarily a “right” way to think about, gather or present news.
LM: What changes could be made within the journalism industry to help women with children balance the work-life and family relationship?
GH: Have more women bosses.
LM: What has been most gratifying for you about your career in journalism?
GH: Making social change, mostly as an editorial writer with a platform to move public and official opinion.
LM: Do you have any advice for young professionals starting out in journalism?
GH: Do it with care and compassion. Right now, Sara Ganim, a police reporter at the Harrisburg Patriot-News, shows that the same values, work ethic and sense of sound newsgathering that mattered before the digital revolution still matter greatly. Her reporting on the Penn State criminal scandal is exemplary.
LM: Is there anything else I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share about women in journalism?
GH: The profession needs strong, able and committed women.
This is part of a series of profiles of JAWS members by University of Iowa students. For a complete listing, see this page.