Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beating the Old Boys' Club

One of the best things about WAM! is its dedication to discussing strategic change in journalism and media. It's way beyond a "this is what's happening" conference. Already in this session I'm in, which is all about working within the system for change (ie, more women's bylines, combating racism and sexism in the workplace), the panelists are discussing strategies for Not Shutting Up (which could be the unofficial theme of the weekend---or WAM! at large for that matter).

Here's some of what the panelists are saying: Be a squeaky wheel. Be outraged. Have a voice. One longtime journalist in the audience said that antifeminist stories make good copy. Don't stand for it! Email the editor. Complain. Panelist E.J. Graff said that women do not ask for what we want. Editors get one pitch for every five they get from a man. So if you're a writer/journalist, speak up about the type of stories you want to read or write.

I'm remembering now that mixed sense of heartfelt optimism and soul-crushing hopelessness I felt at this conference last year. Talking about media coverage of women (and feminism and race and and and...) is distressing, but engaging in honest conversations about how to effect change (with progressive, feminist, incredibly smart women no less!) is that wake-up call we all need---even for those of us who only get it once a year.


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