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.
It’s Women’s History Month, and JAWS has much to celebrate. We are witnesses to history, and we have made history.
None of us knew Ida B. Wells or Nellie Bly, but we have the privilege of hanging out with our living icons, women like Betsy Wade, and Edie Lederer, and Linda Deutsch. We also get to hang out with each other, and who knows what the future will make of our work, and our travails?
Can you believe the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) is already next month?
A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes at the Journalism and Women Symposium to put together the programming for CAMP.
From selecting a neat city and comfortable hotel, to bringing together an impressive lineup of speakers and all the logistics in between, it’s been work, but also collaborative. A lot of our members have volunteered countless hours to put all these pieces in place.
By Linda Kramer Jenning, JAWS Board Member
A friend, also a member of JAWS, told me recently about an unnerving experience on the Metro. Someone stood up and offered her a seat.
She did not think that she looked old enough to warrant the offer. She’s trim and fit. When we talked about it, she explained that she didn’t feel “old inside.”
I know what she means. Busy writing a story or grading papers or taking a break to go to spin class, in my head I don’t feel my age. However, I am happy to claim a senior discount whenever I can. I also like the fact that decades in journalism means I had notes from covering Hillary Clinton in the 1990s that I could dig up to use in a recent column.
It’s not easy figuring out how to age in our profession.
By Amy Resnick, JAWS Treasurer
My favorite professor told me more than 20 years ago that to be a good journalist and a good consumer of news, you had to study bylines. Learn what different journalists stand for and learn who you trust. What I love about JAWS is that it has enabled me to go even further, to meet the women behind so many of the bylines I have read and get to know them and trust them and to be part of a community that includes them.
By Pamela Moreland, JAWS Board Member
In a world when goods and services are at your fingertips 24/7, isn’t it time that you’re to be able to order JAWS gear anytime, anywhere, from any mobile device?
Yes, it is time. And soon, that dream will be a reality.
For almost a year, the JAWS board has been working on a plan to create the JAWS Marketplace, an online home for JAWS goods. From coffee mugs to T-shirts, reusable canvas bags to iPhone covers and yoga pants, the JAWS Marketplace will be the digital headquarters for merchandise emblazoned with JAWS logos.
By Angela Greiling Keane, JAWS Board Member
I joined an amazing group of women one recent weekend in Washington to hear from the talented Jill Geisler about honing leadership skills. It was the second in what I hope will be a longer series of JAWS leadership trainings for which Jill has generously given her time.
One thing that struck me about the participants was that most of them, like myself, weren’t freshly minted college graduates. Most were seasoned, midcareer professionals looking to up our game and our careers through newsroom leadership. Jill’s message was one of empowerment, showing us not just how to be journalism leaders but also how to frame the experience many of us already have to show our aptitude for management or for leading from positions we’re already in.
By Merrill Perlman, JAWS Board Member
We’ve all heard the horror stories: A woman is harassed in the workplace, or complains about unfair treatment. Instead of the situation’s being remedied, SHE is punished, shunned, fired or made to feel so uncomfortable that she eventually leaves, even if others acknowledge the problem. Her calling out the problem becomes the problem more than the problem itself.
It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it’s not legal. But it happens.
So what to do? There are ways to fight harassment in the workplace (and online). It’s one of the many topics that will be covered at this year’s Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP), to be held Oct. 28 to 30 at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center in Virginia. In addition to panels like this, we plan discussions of stresses for journalists face, whether in the newsroom or on an international beat.
By Liz Seegert, JAWS Board Member and Co-chair Mentoring Committee
One of the greatest benefits of being part of JAWS is the tremendous opportunity to interact with other women journos at all stages of their careers. Many of us benefit from these relationships through informal mentoring – like quick advice on how to use a new iPhone app, or a quick review of a potential story proposal by someone who’s written for the same publication.
Mentoring goes both ways – for example, I’ve advised other JAWSdesses about health reporting and health policy; others have helped me with tips on audio editing and staying sane while freelancing (hint: join and participate in JAWS). I love that I’m learning learn new things from women of all ages and phases of life.
JAWS also offers opportunities for more formal, structured mentoring. Mentor and mentee are paired according to skill sets, location, needs and expertise. It’s a unique opportunity to work one-on-one, sharing knowledge (because information flows both ways), solving problems and knowing someone’s got your back.
By Megan Sweas, JAWS Board Member
I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. Eat better and work out more; make new friends and spend time with loved ones; read more and write more; gain more Twitter followers—and spend less time on social media. Our goals for personal and professional improvement can seem to me to be overwhelming, sometimes contradictory and let’s face it, unachievable without a few extra hours a day. Add, “Become more efficient and waste less time” to the list!
At the same time, it’s important to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. The opportunity to do so first drew me to JAWS’ Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in 2010. I was ready to move on from my first journalism job and not sure what to do next. JAWS helped me find my path first to grad school, then to freelancing and writing a book—which had always been my answer to the “Where do you want to be in 10 years?” question.
By Sarah Shemkus, JAWS Board Member
At the end of September 2011, I left my job as a staff business reporter at a daily newspaper to go freelance (and to move to a different part of the state with my new husband). I approached the new endeavor with a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed enthusiasm for all the new paths before me, for all the doors I could attempt to pry open.
The road was not easy — there have been plenty of days when my tail was decidedly unbushy — but today I am a content, independent journalist with plenty of freelance bylines to my name and little desire to return to the pressure and politics of a daily newsroom.
By Judy Miller, JAWS Board Chair for the Legacy Fund
For three decades, our members have continued to define the mission of the Journalism and Women Symposium by mentoring and supporting each other with love, respect and laughter.
The result? JAWS has become a unique and, in some ways, indefinable journalism organization out there. Sort of—you have to come to the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) to get it.
Now, thanks to the JAWS Legacy Fund and our own Nancy Day, JAWS is taking it on the road.
By Liz Seegert, JAWS Board Member
Regional gatherings are great opportunities to discuss, experiment and learn from one another. Since only about a third of JAWS members get to Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in any given year, the reality is that most of the interaction takes place locally.
Our regional groups host all kinds of events — from informal mixers at bars and restaurants to potlucks at members’ homes, to collaborative workshops and events with other journalism organizations like ONA, ACES and SPJ. So if there are women in your region who can’t make it to CAMP this year, how about bringing a little CAMP back to them?
By Gina Setser, JAWS Board Member and CAMP Co-Chair
Twenty-five plus years ago when I joined JAWS, the journalism world was filled with promise. If you were talented and worked hard, you could eventually get hired to work for a large news organization where you could, potentially, gain the freedom to research and write big, life-changing stories. If you were a talented male, it was pretty much a given. If female, a distinct possibility.
Just a couple short decades later, that’s as realistic as a trip to the moon.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned in my very fortunate life, it’s that the biggest opportunities arrive when big change happens. And if there was ever a time when a newswoman could define her own path, that time is now.
But she can’t do it alone today, any more than she could two decades ago. That is why JAWS continues to fill a critical need, and why we have tried to build a program that provides inspiration, entrepreneurial and skills training, mentoring and leadership.
So come to the 30th anniversary JAWS CAMP at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Mont., from Oct. 9 to 11, where we can work together to shape a future where all professional newswomen are treated with the respect that hard work and talent earns for them.
By Amy Resnick, JAWS Treasurer
In Montana in October, we will mark JAWS’ 30th anniversary. And I will mark my 11th CAMP.
My first CAMP was in Sundance, Utah, in September 1999. I didn’t know more than one or two women there, and I was sharing a condo with a group of women I’d never met before.
As with most JAWS CAMPs, it began with introductions over dinner on Friday and I found myself in awe. I was in a room of women who had the careers I aspired to, but didn’t know how to achieve.
I spent that CAMP listening to conversations, over meals and in conference sessions, about what women could do in journalism, and documentary film, and politics. I listened to women talk about working as editors, producers and directors.
By Sandra Fish, JAWS President-Elect
Photo credit Dan Raybon
“Little hinges open big doors,” journalist and book author Patricia Raybon said at a talk on May 21 sponsored by Colorado SPJ Pro and the Journalism and Women Symposium at the Denver Press Club.
Raybon and her daughter, Alana Raybon, are authors of the recently released book “Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother and Their Path to Peace.” It is Raybon’s fifth book.
In talking about her career – from reporter and editor at the Denver Post to journalism professor at the University of Colorado Boulder to book author – Raybon outlined the seven hinges that led her to book writing.
By Donna Myrow, JAWS Board Member
Joy Shioshita investigated the illegal incarceration of minors in mental health facilities. Her reporting efforts changed a law in California to give teens with mental health problems the right of due process before a panel of physicians.
Joy is a librarian in Berkeley, Calif.
Josie Valderrama wrote a compelling story about the L.A. Police Department’s abuse of 30 black and Hispanic teenagers playing ball in a suburban neighborhood park. Her reporting resulted in a $200,000 settlement for the teens.
Josie is finishing her Ph.D. thesis in psychology.
Minerva Chavez was a student activist and political reporter for L.A. Youth for four years.
Minerva now has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and teaches education reform at a Southern California college.
In my time at L.A. Youth, I trained hundreds of young women like the three described above.
By Sandra Fish, JAWS President-Elect
True confession: JAWS CAMP is tied for my fave journalism conference.
Of course, NICAR appeals to my affinity for data and technology. Through the years, I’ve learned so much from NICAR, from how to use Microsoft Access to analyze data in the 1990s to transitioning to open-source databases, from great Excel tricks to scraping websites using Python programming.
But another reason I love NICAR is the effort organizers make to be inclusive in terms of gender, ethnicity and age.
By Justine Griffin, JAWS Board Member
The first time I attended the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) was in Vermont in 2013. I had no idea what to expect, as I had never attended a JAWS event before or met an active member face-to-face.
I was directed to the website by a former college professor and was curious after I looked around the site for the first time. I was surprised to see photos of journalists at the annual conference dressed so casually. It didn’t seem like the regular professional meetings I’d attended before.