THE eightH AnnualWAM!NYC Conference:

Report the Facts, Frame the Future.

at Barnard College

Saturday, June 17, 2017

WAM!NYC's eighth annual conference was a full day of panels and conversing with like-minded journalists, activists and creative thinkers working in various crevices of social justice issues. As the term “fake news” infects the country’s vernacular, our aim was to reassure people that cold, hard facts are as important as ever. Our main questions were: As strong and independent media makers, what can we learn from each other? And how can we collaborate as we move forward?

Keynote speakers included activist Erika Andiola, professor Salamishah Tillet, and a conversation with journalist Alison Stewart.

9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Early-bird head shots by Sung Park (first come, first serve) + bagels and coffee. 

10 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Morning Keynote with Erika Andiola

Erika Andiola has had one foot Inside the Beltway and another in the struggle since 2012, when she quit her job as a congressional staffer in order to fight her mother's deportation. She is a self-described "Intersectional Feminist" and "Proud Undocumented and Unafraid Mexican-American." Buzzfeed called her "The Best Known Immigration Activist In The Country." Formerly Communications Secretary for Bernie Sanders, she is now Political Director of Our Revolution. The New York Times Magazine and 60 Minutes recently featured Erika in reports on how immigrants are resisting deportation. In May, immigration agents ordered her mother to check-in again.

11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION 1

PANEL: HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE ALLY IN THE MEDIA The panelists in this session come from a wide array of career paths, but they all embody the principles of allyship in different ways. Together, they tackled the questions: What does it mean to be an ally in the media? How do you elevate other voices in media while also trying to propel your own brand? In an eroding industry, how do you champion others? How can journalists and media-makers use their own privilege to ground their work and reporting?

PANEL: LOST IN TRANSLATION: DOES INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM UPHOLD A DIFFERENT STANDARD THAN THE US?   This panel sought to discuss how international journalism and. U.S.-based journalism differ and what best practices may be lost in translation. Following the 2016 Presidential election, many of us have begun to wonder if the 24-hour news cycle has distorted the job of the press in the United States. In many countries, journalists operating under hostile regimes remain the only source of unvarnished truth in the face of political deception, and they risk their safety on a daily basis just to do their jobs. In the United States, it often seems that entertainment trumps content in America. This is certainly not true of all American media or of our panelists -- together, they shed light on what journalists are doing right America, and what remains to be achieved for a robust, responsible and globally informed press.  

12:15 p.m. Lunch will be distributed

12: 45 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Keynote conversation with journalists Alison Stewart, PBS and Hasani Gittens, NBC
Ever since she started as an assistant at MTV and started producing the channel's first-ever "Choose or Lose" campaign, Alison Stewart has paved the way for women of color in newsrooms as a reporter, producer, anchor and author. Now she anchors PBS NewsHour Weekend and Charlie Rose and is collaborating with National Geographic and Jay-Z on a documentary. At the conference, she had an open conversation with Hasani Gittens, who started his career as an intern at the New York Post and has moved on to become a Senior News Editor at NBC News, about gender obstacles across media platforms, why they exist and how to overcome them.

1:45 p.m. - 3 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION 2

PANEL: NAVIGATING SENSITIVE GENDER DYNAMICS ON THE BEAT Gender imbalances can present a unique set of obstacles in the field – from flirtation or patriarchal traditions to outright denial of humanity – that women have to maneuver in order to get their stories. The people on this panel discussed how gender-related issues, helpful or not, have affected their reporting.

  • (Moderator) Susan Chira - senior correspondent and editor on gender at The New York Times
  • Poh Si Teng - Emmy-nominated producer on ISIS and militant recruitment, former reporter for The New York Times and former producer for VICE on HBO
  • Kavitha Davidson - sportswriter for ESPN Magazine and ESPNW
  • Azmat Khan - investigative war reporting fellow for New America, formerly Frontline and BuzzFeed

WORKSHOP: HOW TO EMPLOY YOUR JOURNALISM SKILLS TO NEGOTIATE A RAISE   You want to ask for a promotion but fear bringing it up with your boss? You want to raise your freelance rates but fear telling your clients? You want to advance your career but fear burning bridges? Martyna Starosta explained how to tame your fears by using your journalism superpowers: Curiosity, creativity, and courage. She broke down how to employ your research skills, interviewing techniques, and storytelling craft so you can succeed in any negotiation. Her presentation benefited full-timers and freelancers alike. 

  • Martyna Starosta - filmmaker and journalist who loves to coach colleagues on how to conquer challenging negotiations

3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION 3

PANEL: MEDIA CRITICISM IN THE TRUMP AGE: HOW THE PRESS CAN HELP ITSELF   This panel covered the difficulty in producing and consuming meaningful journalism amidst claims of fake news, how we can and should encourage more independent journalism to counteract against the corporate media structure, and how media critics are being and can be helpful without being harmful.  

PANEL: ADDRESSING IDENTITY AND OBJECTIVITY IN TRUMP'S AMERICA This panel started as an idea following the firing of journalist Lewis Wallace, a respected former reporter for NPR’s Marketplace. In January, Wallace, a trans man, wrote an blog post on his personal website titled “Objectivity is dead, and I’m okay with it.” In the post, he explored the challenges of doing journalism under an administration that is a direct affront to your identity. The piece generated widespread discussion and he was ultimately fired by Marketplace, arguably for stating his opinion off the clock, and more generally for openly expressing the challenges of objectivity as a marginalized person under Trump. This panel was a discussion about the misnomer of objectivity, in the first place, and how people reporting on beats that affect them can still do their job like professionals. We explored the complications and triumphs associated with that.

4:45 p.m. Keynote with Salamishah Tillet  
Salamishah Tillet an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and a faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She also co-founded the nonprofit A Long Walk Home. In our evening keynote, Dr. Tillet spoke about how gender disparities in media have ripple effects on marginalized communities and how those communities have always led the nation's most urgent conversations on race, class, sexuality and gender. Communities of color, women, and survivors of assault have long lived in a post-truth world in which they have been forced to contest dominant narratives simply by communicating the harm and violence they have experienced. Theirs is a legacy of resistance far older than Donald Trump.

5:30 p.m. Reception and Raffle!

The Gender Justice in Media conference was co-sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women

Click here to download the conference program.


Check out photos from this year's conference brought to you by Michelle R. Smith!