Journalism department and others host workshop for female reporters

Angelica Tejada

Just in time for Women’s History Month, the Sandra Kahn Wasserman Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College hosted an event called “From Voting Rights to #MeToo: Women Journalists and Activism” on March 2. 

The event presented the work of Miriam Michelson, a female journalist and activist from the 1890s, and translated issues faced by women journalists during the women’s suffrage movement up to today. 

Professor Lori Harrison-Kahan from Boston College, who was one of the panelists, recently republished the writings of Michelson in her book titled, The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson. 

The published work by Miriam Michelson, from both her work as a journalist and as a fiction writer, was read out loud by journalist Joan Michelson, the second panelist, who is a Baruch alumna and the great-great niece of Miriam Michelson. 

 Choosing this topic for the event “seemed quite natural,” Joan Michelson said. 

“Well, it’s so relevant because it’s about women getting the right to vote and we’re in a presidential election year and women are the largest voting block in the United States. So, women literally decide elections.” 

Both Harrison-Kahan and Joan Michelson wanted attendees to leave the event feeling inspired by Michelson’s work and the #MeToo movement. 

“What I hope, and I think from speaking to students it sounds like they got it. It’s just inspiration. This idea that women’s voices really matter, and we need to continue telling these stories. If you come away feeling inspired, that’s the message,” said Harrison-Kahan. 

Michelson utilized her fiction writing to disguise real-life situations she would find herself in with male colleagues within the journalism field, which weren’t allowed to be published in the newspapers. 

“History is still relevant today and we can learn from history,” Joan Michelson said.

 “We can see the ways that people coped with circumstances at different times in history can give lessons for how we should or how we could respond today to situations.” 

“From Voting Rights to #MeToo” was co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Center, the department of journalism and the writing professions, the department of English, the department of history and the women’s and gender studies program.

“Besides this event being mandatory for a class, I read that it was about women in the field of journalism and since I’m in the field, I wanted to get inspired,” junior Asmy Fayad said. 

Miriam Michelson’s work that was presented during the event showcased a different style of journalism that wouldn’t be traditionally used today. 

“I learned that women could, or anyone could, write about something that is newsworthy but to make it like provide feelings,” Fayad said. “I always think of it as just writing news, but you can actually use humor to get to people’s minds.”

Harrison-Kahan shared her process of republishing Miriam Michelson’s work and highlighted that it got done by a team. 

“The important thing to think about is that I didn’t write this book alone,” Harrison-Kahan said. 

“I actually had six students research assistants who helped me find the articles and decide what we were going to publish. So just to really think about how these projects are collaborative and that you don’t have to go do it alone.” 

The message that was emphasized by the panelists was to be brave when stepping into the journalism field, especially as a woman. 

“Miriam Michaelson would not have done a centile of what she did if she just didn’t completely go for it. So don’t wait for permission, just kind of go and do,” Joan Michelson said. “And the other part is that I hope the audience members come away feeling like they have a voice and that it’s important to show that voice. Whatever that voice is and whatever resonates for them.”