JAWS President’s Message: virtual CAMP, partnerships and more

By Mira Lowe

The past few months have been challenging for all of us. COVID-19 has been particularly dangerous for women and women who identify as journalists, the UN reports, as incidences of violence have increased and more reporters experience online bullying and threats. In the face of these difficult times, the JAWS Board of Directors and Committees have been pushing on and making strides. 

We’ve been working on programming and sponsorships for an online CAMP (big announcement below), building community on our membership discussion forum, creating new partnerships and delivering free training for our members.

We are also gearing up for elections for the JAWS Board of Directors in the fall and asking the membership to vote on a new values statement and policy. 

Here’s more on what we’ve been doing:

CAMP

This year’s Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP), Dec. 4-6, will be an exciting online experience designed to engage members and colleagues from across the country and different time zones. Our theme this year is “The Future of Journalism: Forging the Path Together” – because women must help create that future, if it’s to be the one we want to see. We are calling it #CAMPonDemand, because no matter where you are, you can join in the programming that interests you. 

We were able to re-negotiate our contract with the Lakeway Resort and Spa in Austin, the original site of this conference, without penalty, deferring our onsite gathering to 2022. We are already scheduled to have CAMP in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2021.

Here’s an exciting announcement: We have confirmed Emily Ramshaw and Errin Haines from The 19th* as our Opening Day speakers for #CAMPonDemand! More to come about the sessions, presenters and registration in the weeks ahead via email, social and the website. 

FUNDRAISING

Know any individual, organization, or company that might be interested in helping to sponsor CAMP? Would you be willing to send an email (we’ll help draft it) to your alma mater, asking if they’d be interested in sending their students to CAMP or getting their name in front of hundreds of women in journalism? 

Do check out our prospectus of sponsorship opportunities on the CAMP page. Please be in touch with any suggestions. 

PARTNERSHIPS

JAWS is partnering with the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) on two important safety initiatives. The first is free virtual training for journalists in hostile environments in the United States. From risk assessment to covering protests and natural disasters, this six-module certificate course is designed for women journalists with at least one year of full-time professional journalism experience. 

Second, we are working on keeping women journalists safe online. JAWS members will have access to training, support and experts in digital safety. Stay tuned. 

COMMUNICATIONS

Our new members-only discussion forum is steadily growing. We now have nearly 90 members sharing information and posting comments on various topics. If you haven’t yet joined this community, please sign up! The Communications committee will be introducing more features and unique programming in the weeks ahead. 

JAWS VALUES TOWN HALL

A special thank you to the Code of Conduct Task Force, which has worked over the past several months to review our Code of Conduct, draft a new values statement for the organization and propose a framework for corresponding policy. At our upcoming town hall – date TBA – we hope to get members’ feedback before voting a new policy into the bylaws. 

We’ll let you know the date for this event very soon. All current members will be able to review the materials in advance.

ELECTIONS

This year will be a big one – we will have seven open seats: President-elect, Treasurer and five general board members. A call for candidates will go out this month and a slate will be announced in October. Voting will be done electronically through November. The new board will be introduced at the December online CAMP.

STAFFING

On a bittersweet note, we said goodbye to JAWS Operations Manager Roxann Ellliot at the end of August. She resigned to take a full-time position at the University of Colorado. We will be forever grateful to Roxann for everything she’s done to get JAWS to this point, and wish her all the very best in her next chapter. She will always be a JAWdess to us! 

With Roxann’s departure, we will be immediately seeking a limited-term, independent contractor to work with us until the end of the year. Contact interim executive director Eloiza Atoro at director@jaws.org if you are interested. 

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Our next Membership Dialogues will be Sept. 23, 7-8 p.m. ET. Eloiza and I will be on Zoom to give a status report and answer questions. Check your email this week for a registration link to this call.

Thanks to you all for your steadfast support of our organization. We will continue to weather these uncertain times together.

Onward,

Mira