In the face of overwhelming odds and geopolitical conflict, women rise. It gives me great joy to celebrate Women’s History Month at Berkeley Journalism.
When I think of women blazing a trail in the field of journalism, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa comes to mind. As co-founder of the Philippines-based online news organization Rappler.com, Ressa has risked her life and faced jail time for her journalism. She has been outspoken about the role Big Tech has played in spreading disinformation around the globe.
I think of investigative reporter and founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Ida B. Wells. Born into slavery in Mississippi, Wells used her skills as a reporter to bring the horrors of lynching to an international audience and openly confronted white women in the suffrage movement who failed to make racial violence a priority.
As an Indian woman, I have faced many challenges in my long reporting career. But it is thanks to women who took notice of my talent, who personally lobbied on my behalf, that I was able to rise in this profession largely dominated by men.
The huge strides made by women in our community is a source of pride to me and to all of you. Truth-seeking, fact-based journalism helps us to identify problems and to imagine a better world.
Please read and relish this selection of significant achievements of some members of our most amazing community. May their stories inspire you to rise:
1. Rebecca Solnit (’84) released an updated edition of her scathing comic work Men Explain Things to Me along with two additional essays. Solnit explores what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women, and provides personal and hilarious insight on themes of gender and power.
2. Professor Jennifer Redfearn’s new documentary “Apart,” is a powerful film that examines the war on drugs through the lens of three women, all mothers, rebuilding their lives after years of incarceration. Listen to her recent interview with 1A here.
3. Professor Elena Conis (‘04) is a writer and historian of medicine and public health. Her 2015 book Vaccine Nation addressed the role of politics and social forces in medicine. During the pandemic, she has appeared on numerous broadcast outlets and written on the history of pandemics. Conis’ new book, “How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall and Toxic Return of DDT,” will be out in April.
4. In early March, we hosted “Reporting on Gender with an Intersectional Lens,” an event with the Pulitzer Center moderated by alum Tasneem Raja (’10) featuring journalists: Natalie Alcoba, Lawrence Andrea, Ashley Okwuosa, and Kate Sosin. The conversation was co-organized with the NLGJA and Women in Media groups at the school. Watch it here.
5. Kathy Im, who oversees the Journalism and Media program at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, joined our Advisory Board.
6. Veteran television producer Andrea Wishom Young joined the Advisory Board. Wishom Young serves as president at Skywalker Holdings. Prior to Skywalker, she spent more than 20 years at Harpo Productions.
7. Lecturer Daffodil Altan (’04), Prof. Andrés Cediel (’04) and co-producer María José Calderón (’09), and the extraordinary class of ’20 student reporters were named finalists for the 2022 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for their revealing FRONTLINE documentary “COVIDS’s Hidden Toll” on the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable workers who pick and process the country’s food supply.
9. Alum Lucas Guilkey (’19) was story producer on the new documentary Aftershock. The film premiered at Sundance and explores the maternal mortality crisis for Black women in America.
10. Traci Curry (’05) was co-director and producer of “Attica,” shortlisted for best Documentary Feature in the 2022 Academy Awards. Watch it here.
11. Niema Jordan (MJ/MPH ’16) was producer of “Bree Way,” a documentary short directed by former lecturer Dawn Porter about how the art world responded to the death of Breonna Taylor. Viewing options here.
12. Bernice Yeung was named managing editor of the Investigative Reporting Program at Berkeley Journalism. In 2020, Yeung won a Polk Award for her coverage of COVID-19’s impact on meatpacking workers. Her book, “In A Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers” exposed the prevalence of sexual violence against immigrant women and was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.
Dean and Professor
Robert A. Peck Chair
November 22, 2021
Photo: Wesaam Al-Badry (’20) November 22, 2021 Dear Berkeley Journalism Community, I write at a time of deeply felt gratitude. Gratitude for our extraordinary faculty, students and staff, all working…