November 2012: Letter from the president – CAMP 2012

Better Kat pic
By Katherine Ann Rowlands

What a success! I am so awed by the 226 women who came to the 2012 Conference and Mentoring Project of Journalism & Women Symposium. From newspapers and magazines to documentaries and books to radio and blogs, the work being done by JAWS members is remarkable. And the collective power of sharing our stories and learning from each other at CAMP is truly inspiring. We are making a difference in the world and this weekend was a chance to celebrate our successes and prepare for new challenges.

The beautiful Tamaya Resort and Spa near Albuquerque, N.M. turned out to be the perfect setting to renew old friendships, meet with new mentors and soak up the wisdom from some outstanding women journalists who are riding the wave of change in our industry. We put together an ambitious program this year, providing enough training, mentoring and inspiration to lift your spirits and raise your game all year long. And for those of you who could not join us, we have been sharing our learning on the JAWS website and through Facebook and Twitter @jawstweet and #jaws12.

We were thrilled to have writer, activist and women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem with us for our Sunday luncheon and our evening Wine and Whine gathering. With women’s issues dominating the landscape this year, it was a great time to hear from a leader so many of us have admired. Not ready to give up her own torch, Gloria wanted to light ours instead to keep us reporting, writing and publishing the stories that matter to women and promote equality in the broader society — which of course is what our JAWS mission is all about. Her wit, charm and intelligence kept the conference buzzing all day and into the evening.

We were also pleased to welcome Keesha Gaskins as our Eileen Shanahan Speaker for our Saturday luncheon. Given the upcoming Nov. 6 election, we were anxious to hear her thoughts about how the voter ID rules will affect turnout and voting patterns and Keesha delivered a powerful case for how these rules are disproportionately affecting the disenfranchised in our society.

For the Fran Lewine Memorial Interview, Jean Gaddy Wilson, a JAWS founder and pioneer for women journalists, told us fascinating details about her long career and efforts to improve access and opportunities for women. We also heard inspiring stories from the trenches from past presidents Megan Kamerick, Pam Moreland and Susy Schultz during dinner on Saturday night.

In partnership with the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, we provided training on how to find the economic angle of a story no matter what your beat, whether it’s City Hall or the local sports franchise. Marilyn Geewax, NPR’s national economics correspondent, showed us how to explain complex economic information in a simple, conversational way. How I wish Marilyn had been my economics professor in college!

In collaboration with ACES, the American Copy Editors Society, we were able to bring training in grammar, SEO and headline writing and other key skills to journalists in a day of training before CAMP started. These kinds of partnerships are what JAWS wants to do more of in the years ahead so that we can make quality training accessible to more women.

A stellar lineup of panelists kept campers busy with a range of topical subjects, including: Creating a Tech-Savvy Career; Journalists as Entrepreneurs; Small Town, Big News: The Future of Local Journalism; Pitch Like a Pro; The Digital Journalist: Journalism and Advocacy; Covering Indian Country and Native American Issues; Women on the Verge: Meeting the Demands of Life and Career Changes; Negotiating Your Way to the Top; Human Trafficking; and Law & Order: How the Digital World has Changed Almost Everything for Journalists.

Flash technology training was held all weekend so that journalists could drop in for short, targeted sessions to learn specific tools, whether they be beginning or advanced users. We offered workshops on everything from Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, to open source government data and cloud documents, to growing your Twitter audience and using Pinterest. Our intent is to take this kind of training on the road next year so that JAWS members in different parts of the country can benefit.

With the support of Executive Director Becky Day and a very active Board of Directors, JAWS has grown tremendously in the last few years as our nearly 600 members from around the country come together for regional training, networking parties and robust listserv discussions about women and journalism. But CAMP is the highlight each fall and our program co-chairs, Sarah Pollock and Sandra Fish, put together an impressive variety of offerings to serve our members, whether they be founders from 1985 or newcomers from 2012. Our new interactive tool ~ ~ was created by Board members Sandra Fish and Lauren Whaley to help you plan your weekend and choose the workshops, panels and speakers that suited your needs best but it’s also a good way to look back at the highlights of your experience.

This was the biggest and most ambitious CAMP we have produced to date, in no small part due to the many volunteers who helped with everything from speakers invitations, to the auction, to outreach, to technology. It was a labor of love and I want to thank all involved for making this happen.

But I also want to give special thanks to some of our generous financial sponsors, including the Ford Foundation as a major donor to convene this conference, the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford as a Gold Sponsor, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Knight-Wallace Fellowship Program at Michigan, Digital First Media, Stanford University Graduate School of Journalism and the many individuals and organizations who donated in support of our fellowship program. Building on that financial base is a goal for the coming year so I encourage you to give what you can to the Annual Fund, which kicked off this weekend with at $12,000 pledge goal and a very lively auction that brought in thousands of dollars of support for JAWS.

On behalf of the JAWS Board of Directors, we hope you enjoyed every moment and look forward to seeing you at our next conference Oct. 24-27, 2013 in Vermont at The Essex.

With admiration,