Get your weekend off to a smart start with this week's NYWICI must reads.
Many thanks to this week's contributors: Dimitra DeFotis, Brittany Hennessy, Giuliana Lonigro, Robbie McKeon, Eunic Ortiz, Susan Soriano, Rodeena Stephens, Tekla Szymanski, Maria Ungaro and Deirdre Wyeth. For Twitter, please use this hashtag: #NYWICImustreads
“I was just part of a cabal, fighting the injustice of it all, of how women were treated in every field.” Helen Thomas reacts almost hesitantly when I suggest that without her, women journalists might not be where we are today. No, she is not a trailblazer, she says resolutely.
But to many of us female journalists, she was. For the past 60 years, she had been the tenacious award-winning grande dame of U.S. journalism, a straight-shooter, the dean of the White House Press corps. With wit, timeless candor and a razor-sharp voice and pen she has held an unprecedented ten presidential administrations accountable since beginning her career as a copy girl on the now-defunct Washington Daily News and then as a United Press International reporter in 1943. Thomas was the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it opened its doors to women members, and for many of us, she has become a role model and then some. In 2002, she won NYWICI’s MATRIX Award for her achievements in the field of newspaper journalism. But in light of all that, what is so striking about her is her unpretentiousness.
“I am not a woman. I’m a reporter,” is her credo. “You don’t delineate someone in the profession as to whether they’re a man or a woman, but what they do.” But when she embarked on her career, female reporters were the exception, and a woman reporter covering the White House was unheard of. If she could start all over again, would she choose the same profession, I ask her. “Absolutely! Without a doubt.” The answer comes without delay, and I can hear her smile.
And yet, isn’t journalism still a ‘Boys’ Club’? “No, I think it has become more and more a women’s club! Women have come a long way. They still have a way to go in terms of equal pay and recognition. And they should not give up the fight for equality. But times have changed for female journalists." Have they really? I probe. “Mostly beautiful, blond women make it in broadcast journalism,” Thomas once remarked wryly. Does she think that still holds true today? “I’ll give you the answer: Watch television! You have to be very attractive. That’s all I am saying.”
There are many past trailblazers like Dorothy Thompson, Martha Gellhorn, Pauline Frederick, Marguerite Higgins, Doris Fleeson and May Craig that Thomas holds in high esteem. But she won’t single out her own role models or mentors. If anyone, she says, it was her parents — who were illiterate, raised nine children and wanted everyone to be educated — who made the real contribution to her life.
Media realities are changing, but for Thomas, nothing can replace experience and real dedication to truth. “Young people often don’t react enough to what’s going on in the world. You got to have a conscience. I’d rather have my nose against the windowpane than be part of the crowd. Thank God for leakers and whistleblowers.”
What is the impact of new media and blogging on journalism and the public discourse, I ask her. “It is very effective. But I wish that newspapers would be read more. You get a much better air view of what’s going on from a newspaper than from blogging. Now everybody with a laptop thinks they’re a journalist. I don’t call them media. I call them individuals who are getting their point of view across.”
And then she thinks out loud, “I hope we’ll still have newspapers.” Will we? “Absolutely!” But the notion that the public doesn’t hold today’s media in high esteem irritates her tremendously. “I don’t give a damn! I know how I try to do my job.”
A slightly longer version of this article was published in NYWICI’s print newsletter CONNECT (Fall 2006).
As nine justices on the Supreme Court started the discussion this week on one of its most important civil rights decisions of our time - gay marriage, millions have turned to social media to weigh in. If you've been on Facebook this week, you've been seeing a lot of red. The red and pink logo of The Human Rights Campaign, America's largest civil rights organization, has taken over Facebook since Monday. The logo first posted at 1 p.m. EST on Monday and since then, the HRC said it has "snowballed," going globally viral, in support of gay marriage. In addition, the top ten terms trending on Facebook this week are all related to same-sex marriage.
Social media is a proven influence on people's perceptions and decision making. Television and pop culture can also take some of the credit. Last Friday, Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post quoted a media consultant, saying the proliferation of mainstream TV shows depicting gay people has made the public more open to homosexuality. A younger, more tolerant demographic coming into adulthood is also a large factor.
Are social and traditional media the biggest catalyst for America's change in heart? Way back in the dark ages (before Facebook was mainstream), in 2004, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that only 32 percent of voters thought gay marriage should be legal. This month, the same poll showed support jumping to 58 percent. Though on a slower pace, politicians follow the public. In 2008, President Obama and his opponents all opposed gay marriage. Within the last year, we have seen a huge shift from our officials, including President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton supporting the issue and Karl Rove recently stated that he could see a 2016 Republican presidential candidate in favor of gay marriage.
Though an image in favor of same-sex marriage proliferate social media and many of our elected officials are joining the cause outside the courthouse, justices inside are still hesitant to grant a full constitutional right for same-sex marriages in the US. Only time will tell how this is handled, despite the groundswell of support from the public and media. Will it be enough to enact change?
How has media (social and traditional) been a catalyst for changing public opinion in this issue?
“Speaking of innovation, for the first time ever, Marie Claire is a fully interactive experience,” wrote Editor in Chief Anne Fulenwider in her March 2013 editor’s note. And over at Time Inc., “This month, Real Simple is debuting an inspiring, surprising and scannable new section.”
New interactive magazines go beyond advertisers’ QR codes that encourage readers to “scan for product demo” and even further than the Love it? Pin it? SnapTag Reader App that Delta (the faucet company), for instance, is incorporating into ads.
Interactive print issues promise more than bonus content, sharable images, or shoppable photo shoots. And, they allow readers to engage—and be rewarded for it—immediately. At the same time, publishers learn what readers find most intriguing and get swift, nuanced feedback regarding print, visual, and language choices, as Mike Hofman, Executive Digital Director at Glamour, pointed out in Folio magazine’s recent Reader Engagement webinar.
The Technology Behind The Page
With a single app, readers engage with editorial and ad content throughout an interactive print magazine. Real Simple’s scannable section, The Realist, comes to life with the help of Digimarc’s free Discover app (found in both the iTunes store and the Google Play market).
And, Hearst’s Marie Claire takes advantage of the free Netpage app (available from iTunes), as did the December 2012 issue of Hearst’s Esquire. “In partnership with the technology company Netpage, we’re debuting a digital technique that makes the magazine as interactive as your iPad….The app will not only enable you to see video and animation related to stories in the magazine and to make purchases directly from the magazine…it will also allow you to clip any article or image and then save it or share it via email or Facebook or any form of social media,” explained David Granger in his editor’s note.
Digimark calls their technology “transparent digital watermarking.” And had you made an appointment with the company at SXSW earlier this week, you could have had a demonstration, according to the latest Digimark press release. By contrast Netpage explains that their Digital Twin™ platform “Works without any special printing process or digital watermarking.”
Close to a year and a half ago House Beautiful launched a Digimark mobile app called House Beautiful Connect that has reader uses within the magazine, an editor’s video for instance.
One of the leading African American producers of this 21st century is Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes. “You never know the biggest day of your life is your biggest day, not until it’s happening. You don’t recognize the biggest day of your life, not until you’re right in the middle of it.” Well, it’s happening for Shonda Rhimes. She has created one of the most popular shows on television…and social media. On any given Thursday night at 10pm EST., just login into Twitter and you will surely see “scandalous” tweets in your timeline.
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." This quote, by BelvaDavis, the first black woman television reporter, is one of my favorite quotes. Ms. Davis struggled to break into broadcast journalism at a time when few women, much less African American women, were in mainstream newscasts. Her struggle, persistence and determination paid off and Ms. Davis became one of America’s pioneering black female news reporters.
Another pioneer in African American television is Yvette Lee Bowser. Throughout her 20-year career, Ms. Bowser created more than 25 television pilots, four of which became classic programming for years to come. These shows include “Living Single, “Half and Half,” “For Your Love” and more. Yvette Lee Bowser is a trailblazer in creating such unique programs that include a cast of strong, humorous and intelligent African American characters.
The cast of African American women producers continues with Stephanie Allain Bray who is known for launching the careers of John Singleton, Robert Rodriguez and Darnell Martin. Stephanie’s career as a film producer includes a stint at Columbia and then President of Henson Films where she produced the popular Hanson brand movies, Muppets from Space and Elmo in Grouchland.
“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” This quote by Oprah Winfrey is certainly a statement that has propelled her to be one of the most powerful and wealthy people in show business. Oprah Winfrey has definitely put herself in the best place for the next moment. Oprah’s next moments included successful talk show host, launching a magazine, owning her own network and countless philanthropy projects that include opening a school in South Africa.
Women in general have had a major impact in the world of television. African American women are increasingly playing an important role in programming; as well as making their mark on screen.