It’s our time to shine – and to bring more women into JAWS

By Rachel Sams

Many things in journalism are uncertain right now. But one thing is clear: as women journalists, it’s our time to step into our power.

And as an organization, it’s Journalism and Women Symposium’s time to shine – and to connect with women journalists who hunger for the kind of help and support we offer, but don’t yet know about us. They don’t know, in the era of #MeToo and struggles to advance in journalism as women, that there’s already a place they can go to find training, help and support.

That’s why we set an ambitious goal for JAWS at our spring board retreat: to expand our membership of about 650 to 1,000 by 2020, with a focus on growing our membership of women of diverse backgrounds, including members of color.

Bringing more women into the fold will mean more connections for our existing members. It will bring more revenue to JAWS, allowing us to invest even more in serving our membership. And it will better journalism, which is core to our mission: to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and work toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.

Bringing more diversity into JAWS at this historic moment will make our strong organization stronger. How will we achieve this growth?

    • Deploying JAWdesses attending conferences and gatherings of minority journalists as “evangelists” to let their members know about us.
    • Forging mutually beneficial partnerships with other journalism organizations (stay tuned for more partnership news soon).
    • Reaching out to more college women journalists (if you didn’t have JAWS in your college career, how amazing would it have been if you had?)

How will we achieve this growth while preserving the intimate, connected feeling you love about JAWS? Another motion we approved at our spring board retreat: to keep the intimate feeling of CAMP regardless of the size of the gathering and our membership. That intimacy is at the core of JAWS. We don’t want to change that—we want more women to benefit from it.

What are your ideas on how to do that? In this exciting era of change, what do you hope never changes about JAWS? Drop me a note at and let me know. And if you’re interested in helping with any of the initiatives above, please reach out as well.

PS – Want to spread the word about JAWS on your college campus? Pass out this flyer!

Rachel Sams is chair of JAWS’ membership committee and editor-in-chief of Albuquerque Business First.