Letter from a (Different) President

“To talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking.”

Dear Exceptional Women,

tl;dr Overdue introductions, a call to action, and an invitation to join us at our 20th anniversary spring conference on March 30, 2017

I’m Vera Chan, and honored to introduce myself as EWIP board president. Former president Stacey Kennelly will continue to help EWIP with the 2017 conference. We thank her for her tremendous energy these past six months, overseeing EWIP’s panel with Global Girl Media and Internews as well as our Fall 2016 Reception and Awards Ceremony.

I’m relatively new to EWIP, but have been criss-crossing the media landscape for some time. I’ve built worlds at a computer game software company, wrote features and A&E stories at a daily newspaper, freelanced for magazines, led global editorial projects while surviving six CEOs at Yahoo, and currently advise Microsoft’s Bing News engineering team in my capacity as “chief journalist” and content strategist. This is a pretty eclectic background for someone whose professional goal was to be the grumpy brilliant columnist in that dank newsroom corner (albeit cranking out bestsellers in her spare time).

Little wonder that EWIP’s mission has really resonated with me. Who knew that almost 20 years ago, EWIP would be so prescient as to bring women together from different disciplines across publishing? As we know too well, technology and consolidation have upended publishing: These days, editors are marketers, PR experts take on collaborative journalism, and product people monetize content. Job descriptions sometimes look like a Mad Lib reboot.

Itching to do battle and looking for fellow warriors?

Get your tickets now for the 20th anniversary EWIP conference.

Speaking of reboots, there has been a surge of women’s leadership academies, accelerator programs and institutes to make sure women are represented in bylines and corner offices. Yet, as we’ve seen in this election cycle, we have far to go in addressing unconscious bias and outright denigration.

All this means, an organization like EWIP has to retrench, re-evaluate and rethink. What do we offer at a time when a Facebook group of 35,000 women and gender non-conforming writers comes together in under a year? (Amazing work, BinderCon..) How can our voices be heard in the crowded social space that both amplifies (Twitter) and stratifies (Snapchat/Kik/Yik Yak)? What does leadership mean when six companies own 90 percent of media? And how do we move forward to unite men and women when polemics dominate discourse?

It means that the individual has become even more important, in strengthening her voice, developing her brand, and (constantly) expanding her skill set. Yet, even as we learn to stand strong on our own, we need to stand together, more than ever.

That means we want to partner with you in making EWIP a truly relevant, representative group for the next 20 years.  Watch this space for news on an enthralling conference for March 30 and social media bootcamp March 31 + an announcement about our amazing 2017 awardee. (Hint: This leader proved herself a turnaround artist in New York and LA.)

As you do your Black Friday shopping, add early bird tickets to your basket; prices go up New Year’s Day. If you feel EWIP’s camaraderie, events and workshops have helped you, get your company to buy a table so that your team can learn together.

Don’t wait until the conference to get your juices going. Share your successes and get advice in our social groups on LinkedIn (here and here), Facebook and Twitter. And, we’re looking for people who want to develop a couple ambitious projects: Reach out to us at ewip@ewip.org.

With gratitude,

Vera Chan, EWIP Board president

Chan, Vera

P.S. By the way, that quote at the top? Jane Eyre, one of the original goth heroines. Charlotte Brontë showed how a woman could bear the weight of patriarchy, false piety, and skewed economics and emerge fiercely independent, yet come to know the importance of partnering with others.

Honoring our 2016 Exceptional Women with plenty of MoJo

At the PG&E Auditorium on Sept. 27, 2016, EWIP awarded Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlain and EIC Clara Jeffery as our Exceptional Women in Publishing, a dual recognition that we haven’t done since 2004, when we honored mother-daughter Ardath Rodale and Marie Rodale.

Following hors d’ouevres catered by Fuddhism and wine, journalist Jessica Buchleitner moderated the 30-minute Q&A with these fearsome ladies. Please enjoy the video (thanks to board member Katharine Fong for her Periscope) and a slideshow glimpse of our evening. To those who joined us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you in 2017!

  • EWIP doubles down on its Exceptional Women in 2016

Below, the transcript of just the introductions:

“Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

That motto came from Mother Jones, born 1837 in Cork, Ireland, as Mary Harris. She grew up during the Irish potato famine, lost her husband and four children to yellow fever in Memphis, and saw her small dressmaking shop consumed in the Chicago fire of 1871.

It was at age 63 at the turn of the 20th century, when industrialization was changing America’s landscapes and widening the gulf between rich and poor, that this itinerant widowed Irish immigrant reinvented herself as Mother Jones. She fought for the cause of the working class, be it garment workers, bottle washers, steelworkers or copper miners, and she took her fight to the top, going toe to toe with corporations and politicians, including Theodore Roosevelt. Mother Jones believed working families had to bond together to fight corporations and politicians who worked in their own best interests.

Forty years ago, Mother Jones was reborn, during the age of Watergate scandals. Within two years of its launch, the magazine investigated the Ford Pinto, America’s best-selling compact car that killed at least 500 people at low-speed rear-end collisions. This would be the first of many exposes, domestic and global.

If you can imagine the power of Mother Jones, imagine when two women team up. Ten years ago, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlain became the co-editors of this storied progressive periodical. In the past 10 years, magazines and newspapers have downsized or disappeared altogether. In the Bay Area, where Mother Jones was founded, 30 percent of journalism jobs have been lost.

What did Clara and Monika, at a time of consolidation, job cuts and the loss of trust in the Fourth Estate? They tripled the size of its newsroom. They expanded to D.C. and New York. They reinvigorated website, where they can publish their scoops daily rather than bimonthly. Their online site increased sevenfold within three years, getting to 1.5 million unique visitors per week. Today, 10 million people visit MotherJones.com every month. Unlike many of their peers who still struggle to understand the web, Clara and Monika understand that, like Mother Jones did when she criss-crossed America, they too have to go to where their audience is.

At a time when media left watchdog reporting slip to bloggers and headline news to content mills, Monika and Clara bucked the magazine trend of the freelance model and began investing in staff journalists.

And for their efforts? Let us count just a few of the awards:

And to Monika and Clara themselves, the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing. In 2015, Monika became CEO and Clara became sole editor in chief.

In the age of publishers trying to fit their content to distribution platforms, MoJo is going straight to the readers. After its latest stunning expose on private prisons, they’ve received nearly 2,000 sustaining donors in an ambitious campaign within a month: Before this, Mother Jones magazine only racked up 2,000 donors in its 40-year existence. If MoJo reaches its goals, they will show once again that quality reader-supported journalism can not only survive in the digital space, but continue to inform and foment change. We may pray for what journalism once was, but these ladies are fighting like hell in the MoJo spirit for the living.

In the traditional of the Exceptional Women in Publishing, we are so pleased to have Monika Bauerlain and Clara Jeffery be part of our own awardee legacy that has included Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, Essence founding editor Susan Taylor, Dwell Media president Micaela Abrams and National Geographic magazine editor in chief Susan Goldberg.