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Editors’ Blog: Powerful Women in the World of Journalism

Women are a major factor as to why journalism has become more hard-hitting and now includes a wide variety of different assortment of works.

This October, HCAU’s Editorial Team chose four women to highlight for their work in the world of journalism.

Jessica Bennett

Ever heard of a gender editor? Neither had The New York Times until Jessica Bennett

Bennett is currently an editor at large at The New York Times and is their first-ever gender editor, a position created in 2017 with the goal of expanding coverage of women and gender issues. Since stepping into this role, Bennett has played a key part in the coverage of the #MeToo movement, was the editor of the book “This is 18” and managed the release of the Overlooked obituaries project. 

But beyond the Times, her career as a journalist, and as an author, has always put focus on gender and social issues. 

Bennett started as a reporter at Newsweek after graduating from Boston University and she quickly proved herself as a strong reporter. Her coverage, which she worked on with two other Newsweek colleagues, documented the history of 46 women who sued Newsweek for gender discrimination back in the 1970s. This story became a book, “The Good Girls Revolt”, and then was adapted as an Amazon series. 

Bennett during her time at Newsweek also won a GLAAD award for her journalistic series on the challenges LGBTQ+ seniors face. 

As an author, Bennett has a bestselling book out entitled “Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace” and even has a publication about her resting bitch face. 

-Peyton Bigora

Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa is a Filipino-American journalist and CEO of Rappler, a website used as an online news source for those in the Philippines. Ressa worked as an investigative reporter for CNN for nearly two decades until she co-founded Rappler. However, those are not the only reasons why you should know her name. 

Ressa has undergone criticisms and countless arrests due to her following her watchdog role. Ressa published extensively on Rappler about the Philippines President, Rodrigo Duerte, and his “war on drugs”. The “war on drugs” has been an ongoing campaign during Duerte’s term as a way to murder people in the Philippines without question in the name of ending drugs. Ressa took charge to investigate and criticize the government propaganda through Rappler. 

Because of Ressa’s work against the “war on drugs” campaign and the government, she has faced many legal cases against her. In 2020, Ressa was found guilty of “cyber libel” which was seen as a test of the country’s media freedom. She posted bail but could be serving up to 6 years in prison. Ressa has described all the cases against her as “political tools” to test the media’s freedom in the Philippines. 

Due to her work, in 2018 Ressa was named Times Woman of the Year and in 2021, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her “uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines.” To learn more about Ressa and her work, the documentary, A Thousand Cuts, covers the trials and tribulations Ressa faces while reporting independently in the Philippines. Also keep an eye out for her book, “How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future,” coming out in April 2022. 

-Gianna Matassa

Jessica Yellin

Jessica Yellin is the former Chief White House Correspondent for CNN, and has reported at ABC and MSNBC as well. Yellin has also written a satirical novel titled “Savage News” that was published in 2019. Most recently Yellin has created the platform “News Not Noise” that focuses on giving succinct information on breaking news stories that impact the everyday lives of the reader. 

Yellin frequently posts quick news debriefs on her Instagram story and longer news posts on her feed. Her platform, “News Not Noise”, is almost solely on her Instagram account and has gained a following of 277,000 people in just 18 months. Yellin has been quoted as saying her platform is “an on-ramp for people who aren’t watching the news and a distilling center for people who are watching so much news they are overwhelmed.” 

On “News Not Noise” Yellin has interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and many others including activists and academics. Yellin has been quoted saying that she is attempting to show larger news outlets that there is a way to present news that people actually pay attention to that does not over-dramatize the story. She has spoken about how, in her opinion, the news intentionally manufactures panic and this is what her platform is trying to avoid. The platform’s tagline is “We give you information -not a panic attack”. 

Yellin has spoken about her time in journalism prior to “News Not Noise” and the judgment she often was given as a woman. She was quoted saying that she was told that she was “too female” to cover politics with a “too” feminine voice and a short stature. She emphasized the need for persistence and determination especially in a field such as journalism. It is important to note that Yellin has gone through the field with immense privilege as a white woman who was educated in private schools and graduated from Harvard. However, this does not minimize the importance of her work and specifically the “News Not Noise” platform in a time where news is often manipulated by the need for high ratings.

-Jordyn Habib

Yamiche alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor is the host of the political talk show Washington Week, which encourages healthy political debate on the most pressing news stories in America. Alcindor is also a White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour,  is a regular political contributor for NBC and MSNBC and was a moderator in the sixth 2020 Presidential Debate. Still, it is Alcindor’s genuine yet ferocious news reporting that sets her apart from other journalists. 

Washington Week promotes debate on the political status of America, what is unique about this program is that its debates often occur in an informal, roundtable setting. Alcindor took over the moderator role of this show in May 2021 and has more than proven that she was the right candidate for this role. Topics on Washington Week range from abortion rights, Black Lives Matter and the state of the economy. 

Alcindor is not afraid to dive into these timely and emotional topics. She stated that one of her favorite things about moderating Washington Week is being able to bring her “whole self” to her news reporting. By this Alcindor means that her network does not shy away from emotionally charged news coverage, Alcindor has pointed out that her emotional sensibilities and tearing up while on the air make her even more representative of the average American. She hopes to be someone Americans can connect with being “this millennial Black woman with curly hair and a Haitian background.”

Even though Alchindor has proven her success in the world of journalism, she is sure not to forget her roots. Her first job was at McDonald’s when she was 16, ironically, this was also her mother’s first job when she first immigrated to America from Haiti in her twenties. She continues to ground herself in the legacy of Haiti and Black Americans, stating in Elle Magazine “​​I see myself as both a legacy of Black people, who made a way out of no way, and of Haitian people, in particular those who made way for so many others to live freely.”  

-Mackenzie Riley

These four women continue to take the world of journalism by storm and use their voices to amplify the voices of others.

Peyton is a student at American University in Washington DC and is HCAU's Editor in Chief. Majoring in journalism and double minoring in political science and creative writing, Peyton intends on graduating in May 2022. Peyton's goal is to write for a major news organization as a print or online journalist. She also wants to continue traveling, exploring and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her and her work, visit https://peytonbigora.wixsite.com/website.
Gianna is currently a junior at American University in Washington, D.C., and is majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. She is the managing editor of Her Campus at American University. Gianna enjoys writing about Women's Advocacy, Politics and Pop Culture. She also loves to travel and find hole-in-the-wall restaurants in D.C.
Jordyn Habib

American '24

Jordyn is in her second year at American University double majoring in CLEG and Arab World Studies. She writes about anything in terms of politics, DC news and history, as well as pop culture. She is also a section editor for Her Campus and involved with American's high school model UN conference.
Mackenzie Riley

American '23

Mackenzie is a sophomore at American University studying SIS with a minor in Spanish. She loves writing poetry and exploring Washington DC in her free time, discovering new hidden gems. She enjoys writing about environmental sustainability, campus safety, and self care!
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