November 22, 2017

The Cohort is a Poynter newsletter about women kicking ass in digital media.

Gratitude has saved me this year.

In the months since my husband unexpectedly died, I’ve struggled. I’ve felt hopeless and scared. I’ve been angry and lost. I’ve hit plenty of low points. But I’ve pulled myself out of those ruts time and again by finding things to be thankful for.

I know this sounds saccharine, but it works. For a few months, I kept a journal and wrote down three things I was grateful for every day. I forced myself to acknowledge that, no matter how rough a day is or how unfair life can seem, there are always reasons to be thankful.

Last week, on a particularly hard day, I looked to Twitter for some support. “Gratitude is such an important thing when times get tough,” I wrote. “Which women in journalism are you most thankful for this year, and why?”

The response was beautiful. Women and men chimed in enthusiastically, sharing names of female journalists who mentored them, inspired them, challenged them and believed in them. The tweets flooded in — resulting in a list of hundreds and hundreds of women in journalism worth being thankful for.

There were plenty of thanks for the work of well-known women in journalism such as Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Joy-Ann Reid and Ana Navarro, Katy Tur, Rukmini Callimachi, Rebecca Traister, Jessica Valenti, Christiane Amanpour and more.

There were thanks for women I hadn’t yet heard of, but have been thrilled to virtually meet. There were international shoutouts from places like Australia, Lebanon, India, England and Ireland.

Some of my favorite thanks were for journalists who helped colleagues in ways like offering book recommendations, going on crazy-long runs, advocating for newsroom diversity and being all-around inspirational.

You thanked women who cover movies, science and marijuana. You remembered those who are no longer with us. You were heartfelt, thoughtful and kind. Your tweets continued to pour in — effusive with admiration and praise.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, of course, but your generous response was notable for other reasons. Your grateful tweets came in at the same time as news about Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Charlie Rose and other seemingly never-ending sexual harassment revelations. Reporting on, reliving and, for some of us, being part of the stories about sexual harassment in the media industry has exerted an incredible mental toll. And the end isn’t in sight.

We’re exhausted.

And yet, we aren’t too tired or jaded to shine on other amazing women when given the opportunity. Despite it all, we are strong and resilient and can find plenty of reasons to be grateful.

I’m still adding names of amazing women journalists to the list as I can. I’m still floored at the enthusiasm and love that so many people shared. Needless to say, you turned my difficult day around. I can’t wait to see what else your collective gratitude can do.


p.s. I’m keeping this week’s newsletter short, so no links or profile. But don’t forget to get your applications in for the 2018 Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. The deadline is Nov. 30!

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The Cohort is part of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Special thanks to guest editor Ren LaForme, who took a break from preparing a boatload of mashed potatoes to offer smart and thoughtful feedback.

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Katie Hawkins-Gaar was Poynter's digital innovation faculty member. She ran the Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media and was one half of the duo…
Katie Hawkins-Gaar

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