I want to talk about something I noticed a few weeks ago when Sam Freedman visited the journalism school. I would have written about this last week, as it was more timely with his visit, but last week I was too busy ranting about my writing process.
It’s not something that was necessarily his fault, but it is something that I notice every time I hear a man speak about long-form journalism. For the first five minutes of his talk, Freedman mentioned only men when he talked about other writers he admired. He later threw in some names of women whose work he admired as some of the best longform he’s ever read, but men mostly dominated the conversation.
The reason why I’m not pointing to this observation as a fault of Freedman’s is that it’s not his fault. The man is simply reflecting his own industry. There are not enough women longform journalists. This is something that Joanna Diemkewitz and Kaylan Ralph, two 2013 Missouri journalism grads have tried to solve in the first year of their longform magazine, The Riveter, which features long-form stories by women.
There are no other publications like this, and I think it’s an important part of the movement that women’s work is published and read.
This weekend I spoke with Julie Zeilinger, a junior sociology student at Barnard. Julie started a blog her sophomore year of high school called “The F Bomb” and published a book a few years later called “A Little F’d Up why feminism isn’t a dirty word.” Julie’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Barnard alumna Anna Quindlen and says she has learned from the women who came before her about the importance of stories told by women for women.
She told me she thinks websites that vet news stories for women, like Women’s eNews, are setting a great example for journalism. The more prevalent women’s voices become in the industry, the more they will show up in longform journalism.
Julie also mentioned Anna’s encouragement for the new generation of feminists, remarking that this is not a trend she usually sees in older feminists who tend to get an “ego” about the apathy they see in the generation following theirs.
This mentorship might be the key to creating a journalism industry saturated with women’s voices. Anything will help.