July 2013: Letter from the president

Better Kat picBy Katherine Ann Rowlands, JAWS president

I had intended to tidy my desk that quiet Saturday while subbing for another editor on vacation. But then the Asiana plane with 307 passengers and crew crashed at SFO, plunging me and dozens of other journalists into the adrenaline-pumping rush of a big news story.

There have been a lot of days like that the last few weeks, with the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage, a public transit strike in the San Francisco Bay Area, marches to protest the acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case, and ugly vandalism that left shards of glass on the conference room table of the “Oakland Tribune” newsroom in downtown. One of our photographers was also attacked and injured in pursuit of the Martin story as a peaceful protest was taken over by a violent fringe intent on doing damage to the city.

No matter what your particular stripe of journalism, everyone in JAWS can relate to the excitement of the big story. It is part of what pulls us together as we swap tales of scoring the key interview, eliciting the poignant quote, taking the compelling photo, shooting the emotional video, getting the news first and publishing the piece that really makes a difference. Our jobs are darned exciting, often frustrating and sometimes dangerous.

With my dual focus this year of being the president of JAWS and the East Bay Metro Editor for “Bay Area News Group,” I am keenly aware of how much the JAWS network has helped me in improving my skills, learning from colleagues and finding inspiration. I find it while reading the posts on our new listserv, preparing the program for our upcoming Conference and Mentoring Project, Oct. 25-27, and hearing about the fellowship applicants who are being selected for the 10 coveted spots at CAMP we support. We cheer for one another’s successes, offer advice to get through tough spots and provide a unique sense of camaraderie that I have not found in any other organization.

Brava for all the work you have done recently in pursuit of the big story. And please share on our new listserv!