Jane Mayer, an honoree at today’s New York Women in Communications' Matrix Awards, nicely summed up the progress that females have made in the media world.
|Mayer Photo: Sharlene Spingler
The New Yorker staff writer recalled her time at the Wall Street Journal, where she became the then-Dow Jones & Co. paper's first woman White House correspondent.
Though chief White House reporter, Mayer said her superiors wouldn't allow her to travel to the Reykjavik Summit in 1986 at which Reagan and Soviet Union boss Mikhail Gorbachev were to hammer out an arms control call. Their reason, according to Mayer, "Girls don't do throw-weights." Instead, Mayer was assigned a story about First Lady Nancy Reagan’s favorite dress designer.
Mayer noted that many observers didn’t exactly think the U.S. leader was up to speed on nuclear arms capabilities, which proved to her that gender doesn’t automatically make one qualified to discuss throw-weights. The Iceland meeting failed to result in an arms deal.
Mayer also recalled the WSJ and the mainstream media back then banned the use of the word "I" in copy. The only exception at the WSJ was if that first person singular pronoun was followed with the words "was shot in the groin."
She does feel there is an overuse of "I" in today's "selfie culture." The best journalist, in Mayer's view, "applies her skills to give power to other voices."
Mayer sees her daughter's aspiration to become her generation's next Samantha Power, America's dynamic United Nations Ambassador, as indicative of the can-do attitude of the current generation of young women.
When asked why she considers Power, a 46-year-old mother of two young children, a role model, younger Mayer responded because "she's a bad ass and beautiful."