Last week, I was thrilled to be honored by EWIP (Exceptional Women in Publishing). Each year, EWIP gives its award to a woman the group feels embodies its mission to educate and empower females in publishing. I was particularly moved to join a group of legendary past honorees, including Ms. Magazine‘s Gloria Steinem, Newsweek‘s Eleanor Clift, Essence‘s founding editor Susan Taylor and Marie Rodale of Rodale Press. Last year’s recipient, Dorothy Kalins, former Newsweek executive editor and founding editor of Saveur, gave me a spirited introduction.
At the awards presentation at the 2010 Folio Show, I spoke of the challenges and triumphs of running The Nation at a time of radical media transformation. My remarks are below. I am grateful to EWIP for the honor and, even more, for its tireless work in nurturing and promoting the voices of women in publishing.
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Good afternoon and thank you so much!
First, I want to say how deeply honored I am to be recognized by exceptional women in publishing.
I want to thank Dorothy Kalins for that far too generous introduction—and past presidents Linda Ruth and Thea Selby for their organization’s invaluable work. And former Mother Jones editor Deirdre English for her trailblazing path.
When I think about exceptional women in publishing, I think about my years reporting in Russia. I worked for The Nation and also at a Russian newspaper. I saw firsthand the tremendous risks involved for my Russian women colleagues to report, to publish and speak out. Anna Politkovskaya risked her life to report the truth from the war zone of Chechnya. For her fearless reporting she was gunned down in her apartment lobby in October 2006. Another young journalist, Anastasia Baburova, was shot in daylight on a Moscow street last year for her reporting on human rights abuses. With unparalleled courage, these women journalists never flinched in the face of risk. Witnessing their courage inspired me as an editor, journalist and publisher.
I learned that exceptional women take risks. Of course, one hopes the risks are never deadly. But in taking risks, my Russian colleagues, and ones I am privileged to work with and count as sisters in this country, stay true to themselves and to their principles. And that is what moves me.
We gather at a difficult moment in publishing—but one that I believe is also a moment of promise. For all of us exceptional women in publishing—and all of you should call yourselves that, not just me as your award winner—it’s a hard time to do what we love. The crisis for magazines, newspapers and periodicals of all kinds is real, and as we leave from this gathering, many of us face defining moments in the lives of our own publications. The risks we have to take are much different than those faced by the women I knew in Moscow, but exceptional women take all kinds of risks—and I believe that one measure of risk today is defined by thinking big and going for it. Staying true to the heart and history of the publications we run. Embracing the complexity and challenge of new platforms and technologies.