The Cohort is Poynter's bi-monthly newsletter about women kicking ass in digital media.
I’m turning 31 next week. That means I’m well into my annual routine of overthinking everything and analyzing where I’m at in my life. It’s a real blast.
This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about children — or rather, the fact that I don’t have any. I don’t feel ready to make that leap just yet. Of course, 31 means that questions from well-meaning friends and family are slowly but surely beginning to mount.
I’ve been married (to Jamie, my badass feminist champion husband) for seven happy years. I’ve also been the breadwinner for that time. Our financial situation makes the decision of when and whether to have kids even more difficult given the sad reality of U.S. maternity leave and the challenges and biases that many working mothers face. Jamie and I have been talking about how children will impact our careers and lives more and more often and are getting increasingly comfortable with the idea, but it’s still a tough subject.
A few things have made this easier to face. Just last week, I stumbled across this heartfelt essay from Amy Cao Smith, who, through her beautiful words, made me feel so much less alone. Secondly, I’ve met SO many inspiring working moms lately who have fantastic journalism careers but aren’t afraid to dish some real talk about the challenges of motherhood. Meredith, Kari, Kristen (who edits this newsletter!), Mitra, Libby, Liz, Kelly and new mom Núria are just a few of my faves.
Meeting people — virtually and IRL — who are in situations that we can learn and take inspiration from is part of what The Cohort is all about. I hope you’re meeting women who inspire you, challenge you and make you feel a little less alone, too.
In addition to celebrating kickass women, another passion of mine is improving workplace culture. Just this week, my work bestie Ren and I launched a crowdfunding project to give journalists the skills, resources and inspiration they need to help create newsrooms that are better equipped to innovate and respond to industry changes. If you feel so inclined, you can donate to our project here. (Fun fact: If everyone who’s subscribed to this newsletter donates $10, we’ll meet our goal!)
Whether the campaign is a success or failure, I’ll share observations from my first foray into crowdfunding with you when it’s all over.
Things worth reading (and listening to)
I have so much respect for The Guardian for their quantitative exploration into their site comments. The result wasn’t surprising: “articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about.” My wonderful colleague Butch Ward wrote about navigating the awkward transition from staffer to boss. $$$ Medium has a section of essays devoted to equal pay. $$$ I’m glad to know I’m not the only one annoyed by the corporatization of “empowerment.” I adored last week’s Note to Self — exploring the theory that podcasting is a feminist act. (One more reason to donate to 40 Better Hours: If we get funded, Note to Self host Manoush will share her magical tips on combatting information overload!)
As soon as I heard from Brionna Jimerson, I wished we were real-life friends. Her first email to me included an invitation to drink wine and chat over Skype, an impressive list of accomplishments and side projects, and loads of charm and personality that won me over.
At 25 she’s accomplished a lot: She’s a social media analyst at ABC News, vice president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and host of a small but growing podcast, #BooksMyJobGaveMe, essentially a book club inspired by the free reads she’s picked up in newsrooms she’s worked in. So smart.
My favorite thing about Brionna is how she makes time for life outside of work. She makes her own soy candles, tends to a rooftop garden and is mastering DIY pickling. Seriously, Brionna is like Pinterest come to life. “I view home as a sanctuary,” she said. “I find that having clear borders between work life and home life make both more productive, and that much sweeter. Since I work in digital media/news, you’re never truly ‘off,’ but honoring the weekend and spending time on my home projects resets me.”
If you have a project to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or brag on Twitter with #digitalwomenleaders.
The Cohort is part of the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Props to supermom Kristen Hare for her newsletter edits and insight.