Honoring Game Changers at the Women's Media Awards
The substantial impact of women in media—in all its forms—took center stage at the 2013 Women's Media Awards in New York City on October 8. Whether working in media that’s mainstream or alternative, corporate or independent, collaborative or individual, the award winners were recognized for using their platforms to promote visibility for women’s perspectives and experiences.
After Women's Media Center Board Chair Lauren Embrey kicked off the evening, host Lily Tomlin called for renewed feminist energy and representation: “It’s so important to make more women’s and girls’ voices heard in power, in the forefront, equal to men and boys. We're 51 percent of the population; we deserve to be half of the influence.”
Amplifying that influence was a theme of the evening. The awardees included:
- Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent for CNN, host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour, and Global Affairs anchor at ABC News, who received the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award. “I think we really owe it to the sisterhood that whenever we achieve something, we put that investment back into the field, and get more women empowered,” she said. “And I think women are good at that—women want to see fellow women and girls doing well, and not just to be champions themselves, but to champion other women."
- Sheila C. Johnson, a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television, who received the Visionary Role Model and Corporate Leader Award from WMC co-founder Gloria Steinem. Johnson was the executive producer of Lee Daniels’ The Butler; The Other City, which explored the staggering prevalence of HIV/AIDS in D.C.; and A Powerful Noise, which told inspiring stories of three extraordinary women. Johnson said the ongoing objective of her work is to help "bring women's stories to the screen.” She said that she wants "to be able to tell women's stories and get their problems out there, which can help problem-solve—I want to be a change maker. And we can do that through the media.”
- Lindy West, a humorist, cultural critic, body positive activist, and staff writer at Jezebel, who received the Social Media Award for her fearless—and witty—advocacy for women. “When Lindy spoke up to explain to comedians why their jokes about rape might not always be so funny,” said Women's Media Center co-founder Jane Fonda in presenting the award, “she received rape threats just for voicing her opinion on the subject. Lucky for us and for everyone, Lindy hasn’t let the negativity stop her from being funny, smart, and insightful about comedy, media, and everything else.” In her rousing acceptance speech, West said, “I hear a lot these days about the lazy, aimless ‘millennials,’ and I also hear people asking, ‘Where is the next generation of the social justice movement? Where are all the young feminists and womanists and activists?’ Dude, they're on the internet. They're working their asses off. And if you can't hear them, it's because you're not listening.” The Social Media Award is the one prize that’s a “people’s choice” award—West was chosen by Women's Media Center website visitors out of 12 nominees.
- Maria Teresa Kumar, Emmy-nominated contributor for MSNBC and President and CEO of Voto Latino, who received the Carol Jenkins Emerging Journalist Award (named for Women's Media Center's founding president). Kumar, who is a graduate of WMC's Progressive Women's Voices media training program, acknowledged the importance of that sophisticated training to boost the presence of progressive women in the media.
- The creators of MAKERS, the landmark documentary and digital archive of women’s stories. WMC co-founder Robin Morgan (who is also the host of the weekly radio show Women’s Media Center Live With Robin Morgan ) presented the Multi-Media Award for Groundbreaking Contribution to Women, History and America to Executive Producer Betsy West on behalf of the project. Said Morgan: “MAKERS is a record of who we are and what we are doing that has never existed before—it's historic.”
- Mary Thom, the longtime Ms. magazine editor and Women's Media Center features editor, who died earlier this year, was honored with the inaugural Mary Thom Art of Editing Award, which was presented by another media trailblazer, Martha Nelson, Editor-in-Chief of Time Inc., and accepted by Thom’s sister, Susan Loubet, and nephew, Thom Loubet. Nelson said, "Mary was a wordsmith, a nurturer of talent and of ideas."
Gloria Steinem received special recognition from the gathered crowd when Women's Media President Julie Burton led a toast in honor of Steinem being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year.
While each of the night's honorees clearly is leaving her individual footprint in the media, what was also palpable was the sense of the collective impact of all the game changers and change makers. Said Fonda, “If women's voices and the way women analyze and talk about the issues of war and poverty were given equal time, those issues would be addressed differently, thought about differently, and maybe we'd come closer to solutions."
Click here for a list of all 12 nominees for the Social Media Award.
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