Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Extraordinary Women Journalists Share Experiences and Insights
Reflecting on women’s history month, Monday marked the remembrance of a special alumna-—Robin Toner. The first woman to be a national political correspondent of The New York Times, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications honored her life with its 3rd symposium and 2nd award for the Toner Prize. The event was held at approximately 7:30 p.m. in the Herg auditorium.
Charlotte Grimes, the Knight Chair in political reporting, introduced speakers of the symposium and the winner of this year’s Toner Prize, Jane Mayer. Mayer is a writer for The New Yorker and the first female White House correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She also won the 2011 Toner Prize for her story, “State for Sale.” Mayer’s children, Norah and Jake, helped award the honor with a brief speech.
Other women in the symposium were Peggy Simpson, a Washington reporter for the Women’s Media Center, a New York based Website; Lynette Clemetson, the director of NPR’s StateImpact, a public media collaboration examining how state policy affects people’s lives; and Kristin Carlson, the co-author of “The Thirty,” a show focusing on local in-depth interviews for WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont. Kristi Anderson, the Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, moderated the event.
The symposium discussed women finding their place in journalism in the past, present and future.
Simpson, referencing a past job with The AP as a reporter, talked about the adversity she had to overcome being a woman. She said she had initially been deterred by some employers from working for The AP because they made you work, as Simpson put it, “as hard as a man.” This suggested, Simpson said, that women could not do the same things men could.
Mayer discussed prejudices she encountered but said she tried not to take it personally. “I tried not to take offense from stereotypes; I just tried to take the front page,” Mayer said.
Clemetson said she had also encountered problems dealing with prejudice. Speaking of her time working in Asia as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek, many were unsupportive of her travels. “You know they’re prejudice over there,” she said, describing the reactions of some. “Compared to where?” Clemetson laughed.
Carlson said she doesn’t let sexism get in her way. Though she admits she doesn’t come in contact with it much, if people underestimate her, she said they’d be surprised. “A lot of times I see being who I am—a woman—as an asset.”
Charolete Grimes closed the event with toast to Robin Toner and damn good journalism.