Jeannine Guttman, 56, is currently working at The Rutland Herald/Times Argus as content and web editor. Before that, Guttman worked on U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) staff as Communications Director for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Former, director and vice president of The Portland Press Herald/ Maine Sunday Telegram until 2009, she worked 15 years on the paper. She worked at Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C., and covered legislatures in California and Indiana and was a congressional correspondent for State News Service.
In her career, Guttman learned that news is complicated and may not turn out to be what is expected. She mentions covering a man with AIDS, at the beginning of the epidemic, where Guttman says she faced an ethical dilemma over whether or not to use his name. She also reported on cloistered nuns, some of whom hadn’t left their covenant in decades, whom she met when she was covering the Pope’s visit to California. Guttman is an experienced leader that has survived many obstacles. She says her most difficult experience was when she had to lead her staff through layoffs and a newspaper sale in 1998. She has said, “The erosion of journalistic credibility and the rise of a news-as-entertainment culture.”
Guttman graduated from Kent State University in 1977 with a degree in journalism and political science. She is a member of JAWS and her email is: j9guttman(at)aol.com.
Guttman was interviewed by Margaret Murphy, a Journalism and Political Science major at the University of Iowa.
MM: Why did you become involved in journalism?
JG: To make a positive difference in the health of our democracy.
MM: How do you define journalism today?
MM: How has technology influenced or affected your career?
JG: It has affected everyone’s life, so in that way, it has affected the journalism of the times, both as a subject to be covered and as a tool to be mastered..
MM: How will technology affect the future of journalism?
JG: It won’t. It will affect the delivery of journalism, and the participation of our audiences. But the mission of American journalism remains the same.
MM: What one word would you use to describe the status of women in journalism today?
MM: What role(s) will women have in future journalism?
JG: Unknown; there are still too few female voices in new media.
MM: How has your experience differed as a reporter and a Communications Director? Is there one your prefer?
JG: I got to see both sides of the process. Working in the U.S. Senate was invaluable to me as a journalist.
MM: How did you become interested in covering legislatures? What about that subject do you think is most important for your readers to know?
JG: point of view of the reader, not the legislators or lobbyists or flaks. That is more difficult than it sounds and takes time to perfect. David Broder was a master at this.
MM: How has the treatment of women changed since the beginning of your career?
JG: Every place, every owner, every situation is unique.
MM: Do you think as a leader of a paper you were treated differently because of your gender? How were you treated during the newspaper sale?
JG: No difference because of the great company that I worked for, The Seattle Times.
MM: You are now a content and web editor? How did you learn these skills during your career? Have you had to adjust a lot to new technology?
JG: The technology is not the challenge. It’s just another tool. Creating and building audience with useful, valuable content – i.e., journalism – is the challenge. Original content is king; and original content is produced in newsrooms. I think we get too hamstrung by this idea. The technology is just another form of delivery system.
MM: How have you tried to balance a family and work life? Are there any special challenges in this area you think journalists face?
JG: You need to master time management.
MM: What is your paper doing to cover the floods in Vermont? What are the challenges your paper is facing?
JG: We are covering a story that we are experiencing.
MM: What was your first job in journalism? Did your gender have any influence in this?
JG: I worked as a bureau reporter in Barstow, California. Which back then was in the middle of nowhere.
MM: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like us to know about women and journalism?
JG: I appreciate so much the sacrifices of all the women before me, who blazed a path that I tried to widen for those who folllow.
This is part of a series of profiles of JAWS members by University of Iowa students. For a complete listing, see this page.